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Wild Hemp- What it is and Where it Comes From

Wild hemp is also known as feral cannabis, wild marijuana, or “ditch weed.” These wild hemp plants have been defined by The Drug Enforcement Agency as, “wild, scattered marijuana plants [with] no evidence of planting, fertilizing, or tending.”

The wild hemp plant supposedly arose from industrial hemp plants. During World War II, midwestern industrial hemp crops were grown. The plants have naturally re-seeded themselves in the wild to create a feral type of cannabis.

Unlike cultivated marijuana, wild hemp usually has negligible amounts of psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

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What Is Wild Hemp?

One of the oldest cultivated plant species is Cannabis sativa [1]. It should be no surprise that wild hemp has historically grown freely in nature and found many traditional uses. G. Piluzza and associates have suggested hemp oil may have health benefits for conditions such as diabetes, cancer, lupus, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, and hypertension.

Cannabis Species vs Chemotype

Classifying cannabis plants has always been a struggle. Scientists debate how many species there really are in the Cannabis plant family. Most accept that there are three Cannabis species. The three species can have very different chemical profiles (chemotypes). The species of Cannabis are Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis.

Cannabis species describe the appearance of the plant and have some links to geographic origin. The chemical profile, or chemotype, is generally a more useful way to consider cannabinoid profiles.

Chemotype I cannabis plants are the drug-type (marijuana) with THC as the dominant cannabinoid [1].

Cannabis plants of chemotype II are an intermediate type of plant with balanced THC and cannabidiol (CBD) levels [1].

Chemotype III cannabis plants have CBD as the dominant cannabinoid and include fiber hemp [1].

Hemp plants are traditionally high CBD and low THC (chemotype III) varieties classified under the C. sativa species. However, it is useful to note that modern hemp strains have been interbred.

Wild Hemp Strains

Hemp genetics can be cultivated from wild plants that are domesticated and selectively bred, or feral cannabis strains can arise by escaping the boundaries of the farm [2].

For more than 6000 years, cannabis has been traded and cultivated worldwide. It is likely that traditional C. sativa originated in China. Short and bushy C. indica hails from Indian roots. Meanwhile in Russia, the wild C. ruderalis displays a unique trait. Other cannabis plants depend on day length to cue flowering. Ruderalis holds a special trait called “auto-flowering” where plants flower based on how long they have been growing for.

Cultivated cannabis plants grow up to two meters tall. They have a main stem called a shoot. Feral cannabis often lacks the dominant central stem and keeps a smaller stature of only about 30 centimeters in height. In this way, feral cannabis looks much more like C. ruderalis despite its actual genetic lineage.

Smoking Wild Hemp- A Warning

Cannabis plants are very helpful in cleaning up the environment. Also, this means that hemp plants can take up dangerous substances. Feral cannabis plants growing in drainage ditches and roadsides are likely to contain significant levels of dangerous chemicals like lead. Smoking wild hemp and feral cannabis is a very dangerous idea because of this.

Properly cultivated CBD hemp flower and cannabis must pass testing for heavy metals, pesticides, and microbial contaminants. This ensures that products like hemp pre-rolls do not put consumers in danger of taking in those toxic and harmful substances.

Final Thoughts on Wild Hemp

Wild marijuana and wild hemp are not uncommon. These feral cannabis plants can be found in drainage ditches and roadsides, especially through the midwestern US. Wild CBD hemp flower will not be like the hemp cigarettes you can buy online.

Feral cannabis plants can take up heavy metals and environmental contaminants. Consequently, it is a very bad idea to smoke wild hemp. The flavor of a wild hemp cigarette will definitely not be as pleasing, and it could make you sick. It is much better to shop for CBD hemp flower products online and from reputable growers!

It should be no surprise that wild hemp has historically grown freely in nature and found many traditional uses. Wild hemp also has dangers to be aware of.

Wild hemp plant

Hemp
Cannabis sativa
Hemp family (Cannabinaceae)

Description: This plant is a summer annual about 3-9′ tall. It is unbranched or little branched. The stout central stem is light green; where new growth occurs, this stem is more or less pubescent, but it becomes less hairy with age. The lower leaves are often opposite, while the upper leaves are alternate. These leaves are palmately compound with 3-9 leaflets (usually there are 5-7 leaflets). On large plants, these leaves can span up to 10″ long and across (excluding the petioles), but they are half this size on smaller plants. While the lower leaves have long slender petioles, the upper leaves are nearly sessile. These petioles are more or less pubescent and occasionally reddish green. Each leaflet is narrowly ovate and coarsely serrated along the margins; the middle leaflets are larger in size than the lateral leaflets. The upper surface of each leaflet is dark green and sparsely pubescent.

Hemp is dioecious with both male and female plants. The male plants produce both axillary and terminal panicles of male flowers. These panicles are up to 1′ long; they have small leafy bracts and pubescent stalks. Each male flower is about 1/8″ (3 mm.) across, consisting of 5 sepals, 5 stamens with large anthers, and no petals. The oblong or lanceolate sepals are initially green, but they become cream or pale yellow with maturity. After these flowers have shed their pollen, the foliage of the male plant soon turns yellow and withers away. The female plants produce short axillary spikes of female flowers; these spikes are about 1″ long and covered with glandular hairs. Each female flower is about 1/8″ (3 mm.) long, consisting of a single sepal, an ovary with two styles, and no petals. The sepal wraps around the ovary, forming a beak at its apex; the 2 styles are exerted from this beak. The surface of the sepal is green and covered with glandular hairs that exude a characteristic odor when they are rubbed. At the base of each female flower, there is a single green bract that is lanceolate and longer than the flower. There are small leaves and other bracts along the spike as well.

The blooming period occurs from mid-summer to early fall and lasts about 1-2 months. Pollination is by agency of the wind. Upon maturity, the female flowers turn brown, but the foliage of female plants remains green until the fall. Each female flower is replaced by an achene containing a single large seed. The root system consists of a branched taproot. This plant often forms colonies at favorable sites.

Cultivation: The preference is full sun, moist conditions, and a fertile loamy soil. Mesic conditions and other kinds of soil are also tolerated, but the size of plants will be smaller. Hemp is little bothered by pests and disease. It tolerates occasional flooding.

Range & Habitat: Hemp occurs occasionally in central and northern Illinois, while in the southern portion of the state it is uncommon or absent (see Distribution Map). Hemp is native to central Asia and it was introduced to the United States for agricultural purposes. Habitats include borders of floodplain woodlands, borders of low-lying fields, weedy meadows along rivers, fence rows, and roadside ditches. Occasionally, it is cultivated illegally in backyards and fields. This plant is found primarily in disturbed habitats.

Faunal Associations: There is little information about floral-faunal relationships for Hemp. The wind-pollinated flowers don’t attract many insect pollinators. Mammalian herbivores avoid browsing on hemp when other plants are available.

Photographic Location: A roadside ditch in Champaign, Illinois.

Comments: Hemp has been cultivated in the United States since colonial times. The fibers of the central stem are quite strong; they have been used in making rope, paper, clothing, and other products. The foliage, flowers, and seeds of female plants contain chemicals with medicinal and recreational properties. However, since World War II, it has been illegal in Illinois and other areas of the United States to cultivate hemp. The industrial form of this plant is Cannabis sativa sativa (Hemp), while the medicinal and recreational form is Cannabis sativa indica (Marijuana). It is usually the industrial form of this plant that is encountered in the wild; it has a more robust habit of growth and contains lower levels of chemicals with medicinal and recreational properties. Hemp has a unique appearance and is easy to distinguish from other species of plants. A small specimen of Hemp superficially resembles some Potentilla spp. (Cinquefoils), especially Potentilla recta (Sulfur Cinquefoil), because of the similarity of their palmate leaves. However, the leaflets of Hemp are more elongated and tapered at their tips than Sulfur Cinquefoil. Furthermore, the flowers of Cinquefoils have 5 conspicuous petals that are white or yellow, like many other members of the Rose family, while the flowers of Hemp are devoid of petals.

Wild hemp plant Hemp Cannabis sativa Hemp family (Cannabinaceae) Description: This plant is a summer annual about 3-9′ tall. It is unbranched or little branched. The stout central