Kush: Decoding the Name and its Signature Characteristics

Chances are, you’ve heard about “Kush” strains. You may have heard people even refer to cannabis as “kush” even though that isn’t quite right. Even if you’ve never smoked cannabis before, you’re aware of the term thanks to countless mainstream rap songs. For us in the cannabis community, it has even earned the right of being used interchangeably with the word marijuana itself.

Unless you’ve done some research, you may not know what it means exactly. You’re in luck. We’re here to set things straight regarding the definition of the term “Kush” in this post, as well as the ways this term is used in popular culture.

what does kush mean

What Does “Kush” Mean When it Comes to Cannabis?

In strictest terms, Kush plants have a single definition. They all descend from indica plants smuggled from Central Asia into the Western World during the 1970s. They derive their name from the Hindu Kush mountain region, which runs through Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Pakistan.

Cannabis breeders traveled from Europe to the Hindu Kush mountain range along a dangerous route called the “Hippie Trail” to acquire seeds from the indica plants that lived only there. Then, they returned to Europe and North America to infuse these new genetics into the existing cannabis gene pool, which consisted almost entirely of sativa variants at that time.

While these intrepid breeders didn’t necessarily “discover” the strains originally (that honor belongs to Irishman William O’Shaughnessy, who studied cannabis extensively in the Victorian era), they did introduce the genetics into the modern cannabis landscape.

Without the Hippie Trail, we likely wouldn’t have indicas as we know them.

While “Kush” strains may have originally referred to genetics that came out of the Hindu Kush region, that’s not exclusively the case today. You can find strains with origins growing across the globe, thanks to enterprising cannabis breeders.

But that doesn’t mean the term has lost all of its weight. Instead, the strains today refer to any plant that possesses some part of the genome. In other words, “Kush” has effectively become something like a surname, or family name, for these types of indica strains. As a result, nearly all strains share some similar characteristics.

what does kush mean

How to Identify a Kush Strain

One of the most prevalent identifiers, for example, is the “Kush smell.” It’s hard to describe in words, but once you get your first whiff of a strain (and you know that’s what you’re smelling), you’ll never forget it. The aroma smells almost like incense, combining spicy, sweet, piney, and floral tones with an earthy pungence. 

The strains often look similar to one another, as well. They feature robust, dense nugs with a vibrant, deep green hue. Some strains tend to exhibit some purplish coloring as well. In addition, their hairs (technically called “pistils”) are usually orange- or rust-colored.

Finally, the strains are by definition indica-dominant. As a result, any strain with even a hint of genetics is likely to impart a relaxing, calming, and almost sedating type of high.

You may not be able to differentiate between the smell and signature physical characteristics of different cannabis strains at first. Don’t fret. Over time, if you take a pause to examine the sensory experiences—smell, appearance, type of high—of each strain you buy, you’ll start to pick up on the subtleties.

what does kush mean

Kush Strains Today

Since their introduction into modern marijuana breeding in the 1970s, Kush plants have lent their genetic makeup to countless strains. Some of the most popular today include:

OG Kush: This beauty is one of the very first generations of strains, derived from the original Hindu Kush genetics. A three-way cross between Chemdawg, Lemon Thai, and Hindu Kush, OG Kush is one of the best-known strains in the world today. And with its potent mix of a diverse cannabinoid profile and quintessential “Kush” taste and smell, it’s easy to see why.

Kush Mountains: Named after the mountain range that first spawned the strains, this White Walker OG and Blue Flame OG cross is one of the best modern examples of its family of strains. Be mindful, though. Kush Mountains is a heavy-hitting indica and can quickly leave you locked to the couch with a case of the munchies. Sometimes, that’s exactly what the mood calls for.

Eel River Kush: A little less in-your-face than other indica-heavy strains, Eel River Kush has a more balanced high than the other strains we’ve mentioned. Descended from Hellfire OG, this strain’s spicy, sweet, earthy, and fruity aroma and flavor instantly mark it as a member of the family.

Ready to kick back and enjoy? We’ve got plenty of kush options and other strains for you to browse in our online store.

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