What’s the Real Meaning of ‘Landrace’?

‘Landrace’ was once an obscure technical term employed only by botanists and other experts who understand what it means. Now it’s used worldwide by non-experts who mostly clearly don’t.

Confusion has been the status quo since cannabis aficionados latched on to this jargon a few years ago, three years of which I’ve since spent doing what I can to drive home that the core meaning of landrace is in fact ‘domesticate.’ In other words, a landrace is a creation of people for products they want. As Dr. Ernest Small writes in Cannabis: A Complete Guide: “The term landrace (land race) refers to populations of domesticated plants that were selected over many generations by farmers in a region.”

But Google ‘landrace’ – in the context of cannabis – and you still get deluged with claims that these are wild plants. That’s not just wild in the sense of untamed but wild in the sense of naturally arisen and spontaneously created by nature alone, independent of humanity. And not only is that not what landrace means but more or less precisely the opposite: Landraces are created over many generations by communities of farmers.

The equation that’s led to the current confusion and chaos seems to be land + race = wild. This widespread mistake is a problem, not least because it erases the central role of the peoples who created these foundational strains and – in the context of cannabis – the marginalized farmers who’ve kept this ancient biodiverse heritage alive through the nightmare of prohibition.

Misleading as it is ugly, the English ‘landrace’ translates terms such as the German ‘Landrasse’. Rasse and its equivalents in other languages of mainland Europe carry two related meanings: race and breed. By contrast, race in its equivalent sense in contemporary Standard English only ever means race. ‘Land race’ is occasionally the orthography in academic literature, a spelling that like the term itself is a relic of an archaic sense of ‘race’ (see Merriam-Webster link above) and serves to sow further confusion.

This confusion drags other stuff with it. Folks are taking that ‘race’ to mean, well, race, when popular understanding of the science of race is stuck somewhere back in the 1930s. With ‘land’ to drive this misconstrued meaning home, the connotations of landrace become perhaps a touch concerning, not least given the long history of racializing cannabis to ‘other’ and degrade marginalized social groups – the very same communities who’ve born the brunt of cruel and misguided drug laws. Recall the history of the name marijuana. Or Xinjiang, where the ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Uyghurs by the Chinese state began in the 1930s with the targeting of cannabis cultivation. This plant has been relentlessly coopted for racist agendas.

God only knows, in our addled era, what deranged notions ‘landrace’ is now reinforcing as it cycles through countless iterations on the Internet. Suffice to say, cannabis should be about anti-racism, not perpetuating the deranged race fantasies of bigots and white-supremacists, none of which have any basis whatsoever in science.

It seems for now, however, this rather ugly and very misleading word has found a new home in popular cannabis jargon, adding a new dose of chaos and confusion to the more familiar nomenclature nightmares.

27 responses to “What’s the Real Meaning of ‘Landrace’?

  1. Thank you so much for all this explanation. Today, I felt like searching the web for original, native cannabis seeds; I was lucky enough to find you: The Real Seed Company ! I can’t wait to grow Kumanoni strain which appealed to me the most. I am planning on going deep in the wilderness and planting it there. Anyways, I was searching the web and ended up on a fairly ignorant website, that however allowed me to discover your beautiful website, and the word landrace clearly did not make a good impression on me, as it was depicted as “difficult to grow” type of seed: however, as an authentic genetic material craver, I couldn’t help but dig in a little more and I am glad I actually did ! Determination pays off, especially if it’s on the side of Life, and authentic genetic material 😉

    I would like to speak with you some time a little more, as I am well aware that you probably know alot about this sacred Plant. If you are too busy, that is fine; I am happy to have found this website !

    Kind regards,

    Kilian Mathey

    • hi Kilian, thanks for getting in touch. If you have any questions, you can email realseedco@gmail.com

      We test all our seeds, and if they test at below 80%, we won’t sell them, with the exception of wild-type seeds. Most should be close to 100% germination. Just never use the silly techniques suggested on forums. Nothing more complicated than water,warmth, and seedling compost is necessary – albeit the chlorine in tap water and/or a tiny amount of peroxide may help eliminate pathogens.

      A lot of chancers are jumping on the “landrace” train. Most are spreading nonsense information, presumably because they’re not much interested beyond the obvious incentives.

      Any other questions, just ask


    • Im a mixed woman with about 5 different “races”, (idk why I felt necessary to add that comment lol.) Absolutely admire this. And completely sympathize. It’s unfortunate we cannot even use an appropriate name without it being negative, offensive, or political. I heard ‘landraces’ and was immediately intrigued.

      • Thanks for commenting. ‘Landrace’ wasn’t a problem when it was confined to experts who understand genetics and known what the word means. That’s no longer the case, unfortunately.

        We’ve had 3 years of this word landrace being grower jargon among aficionados, and it’s been 3 years of utter confusion.

        For examples of that, see below:

  2. There is no historical, etymological, scientific, nor factual basis for Real Seed Company’s (Angus) argument that the term landrace is rooted in and perpetuates racism.

    Angus begins his essay “Landrace: a Dirty Word by tracing the origin of the term landrace to Danish pig breeders invoking the Nazis.
    “‘Landrace is a nasty-sounding word that brings with it not just the stink of pigsties but 1930s Europe,’…‘It’s enough that in our era there are smokers who are Nazis. Now you can’t even speak about these plants without sounding like Himmler yourself. Landraces! …should I salute? Various authoritative dictionaries state this unappealing word originated among Danish hog breeders of the 1930s. Along with the stink of pigsties, it certainly brings with it all the dark resonances of that godforsaken era.”
    The Real Seed Company “LANDRACE: A DIRTY WORD” January 29, 2021 https://landrace.blog/2021/01/29/landrace-a-dirty-word/
    This is a historically inaccurate mischaracterization of the origin of the term landrace as it is used in cannabis scholarship and the broader cannabis community. The term landrace as it is used in this context does not refer to danish pigs or the racial politics of the 1930s. The term landrace as it is used in the cannabis community has its origins in international conservation discourse dating back to the 1890s (Zeven 1998). The term continues to be used in this context in both international conservation discourse and the cannabis community (see: McPartland and Small 2020, McParland and Guy 2020). There is no evidence that the term landrace has its origins in nazism, the term landrace as it is used in the cannabis community conforms to the original meaning and use of the term that can be traced from its origins in international conservation discourse in the 1890s to the present day. Worse, Angus even cites Zeven 98 paper and makes passing reference to the fact that the term landrace in crops dates to the 1890s. Yet, he makes no mention of the terms origins in international conservation discourse as outlined by Zeven, nor does he acknowledge the continuity of this useage from the 1890s when it was first introduced as a subject for international consideration to the use of the term in contemporary cannabis community and scholarship.

    From the opening paragraphs of his essay Angus constructs a strawman argument that relies on the wrong definition of the term landrace, tracing the origins of the use of term to Danish pig farmers, who are imagined, without any evidence, to have been influenced by the racial theories of Nazi Germany. This is the historical origin and context that Angus argues the term landrace has emerged and is perpetuated by the continued use of the term by academics and the cannabis community. The only problem with this argument is that it has no basis in reality.
    An essential element of Angus’ argument is that the term ‘race’ in ‘landrace’ naturalizes the concept of race as a biological reality.
    “In English, in other words – regardless of intent or what the word ‘actually means’ – academic and popular use of the term landrace both perpetuate the dangerous fantasy that race is a biological reality, a ‘fact of life’ somehow grounded in the solid materiality of bodies, organisms, and DNA.” The Real Seed Company “LANDRACE: A DIRTY WORD” January 29, 2021 https://landrace.blog/2021/01/29/landrace-a-dirty-word/

    To make this argument Angus asserts:
    “The English ‘landrace’ translates terms such as the German ‘Landrasse’. Rasse and its equivalents in other languages of mainland Europe carry two related meanings: race and breed. By contrast, race in its equivalent sense in English only ever means race. At best, this term landrace could be seen as a very bad translation.” The Real Seed Company “LANDRACE: A DIRTY WORD” January 29, 2021 https://landrace.blog/2021/01/29/landrace-a-dirty-word/

    This is simply not true. The definition of the term ‘race’ in English absolutely encompasses the concept of ‘breeds’, one doesn’t need to be a linguist or philologist to open up a dictionary and find the term ‘race’ defined as such in English:
    “race 1 (rās)

    b. A breed or strain, as of domestic animals” https://www.thefreedictionary.com/race

    Moreover the term ‘race’ in English has its origins in Continental Europe in the 14-15th century and was introduced into English from Europe in the 16th century:
    “By the time “race” emerged in the English language in the 16th century, it already had a lengthy career in French and Spanish.”As historian David Nirenberg explains, “words like raza, casta, and linaje (and their cognates in the various Iberian romance languages) were already embedded in identifiably biological ideas about animal breeding and reproduction in the first half of the fifteenth century” (2009:252).29…. Charles de Miramon, who locates the origin of “race” in France in the 14th century,…”

    JOHN HARTIGAN “MEXICAN GENOMICS AND THE ROOTS OF RACIAL” CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY, Vol. 28, Issue 3, pp . 372–395. 2013 https://stsinfrastructures.org/sites/default/files/artifacts/media/pdf/hartigan_2013_mexican_genomics_and_the_roots_of_racial_thinking.pdf

    “race 1 (rās)

    [Middle French rasse, race, lineage, race, from Old Italian razza, probably from Old French haraz, stud farm for horses…” https://www.thefreedictionary.com/race

    Prior to the introduction of the term ‘race’ from its origins in continental European languages into the English language, the English term ‘race’ was:
    “race 2 (rās)

    [Middle English ras, from Old Norse rās, rush, running; see ers- in Indo-European roots.]” https://www.thefreedictionary.com/race

    There is simply no evidence to support the assertion that there is a distinction between the term ‘race’ as it is defined and used in the English language and the term ‘race’ in mainland European languages. The term ‘race’ is explicitly defined in English as meaning ‘breed’ and the word in English traces back to 14th century France. There is also no evidence to support Angus’ claim that the term ‘race’ in English has been mistranslated. On the contrary given the fact that the original meaning in 14th century France referred to ‘breeds’ (specifically the dog breeds of the aristocracy) and this original meaning of the term has been retained in contemporary english dictionary definitions tracing the origin of the term back to 14th century France indicates the continuity between the use of the term ‘race’ in english since its adoption from mainland european dialects. The fact that the term ‘race’ in English as in European languages refers to ‘breed’ undermines Angus’ assertion that the term is rooted in the idea of biological race and highlights how these ‘races’ or ‘breeds’ are the result of complex dynamics of social-historical-cultural-environmental interactions between humans, plants and animals, over the course of history since the dawn of domestication.

    After opening the essay by misleading readers by tracing the origins of the term landrace to imaginary racist danish pig farmers in the 1930s; and, making demonstrably false distinctions between the term ‘race’ in english and mainland european languages; Angus also commits outright plagiarism by lifting a passage from the work of McPartland and Small 2020 without attribution.
    Here is the passage with the unattributed quotation lifted from McPartland and Small 2020 with only a few cosmetic changes:
    In Cannabis, Mandolino et al. (2002), for example, quantified DNA polymorphisms in ten drug- and fiber-type varieties and identified more variability between individuals within a varietal than between varietals – data that confirmed ‘the existence of a single, widely shared gene pool.’ Likewise in so-called ‘landraces’, greater variation can be found between individuals within a distinct identifiable strain than between the populations of identifiably different strains. Gilmore et al. (2007) analyzed a globe-spanning collection and found a low rate of sequence variation. All of which is to be expected in a single species with a history of cultivation and utilization stretching back, respectively, at very least some five to ten millennia.

    The Real Seed Company “LANDRACE: A DIRTY WORD” January 29, 2021 https://landrace.blog/2021/01/29/landrace-a-dirty-word/

    Here is the original:
    Mandolino et al. (2002) quantified DNA polymorphisms in ten drug- and fiber-type varieties. They found more variability between individuals within a variety than between varieties – data that confirmed “the existence of a single, widely shared gene pool.” In a worldwide collection of Cannabis, Gilmore et al. (2007) found a low rate of sequence variation (approximately 1 polymorphism per 1 kb sequenced cpDNA) – consistent with a single species.

    McPartland JM, Small E (2020) A classification of endangered high-THC cannabis (Cannabis sativa subsp. indica) domesticates and their wild relatives. PhytoKeys 177: 81–112.
    Here are two passages to highlight the changes from what Angus’ published on his blog:
    In Cannabis, Mandolino et al. (2002), for example, quantified DNA polymorphisms in ten drug- and fiber-type varieties and identified more variability between individuals within a varietal than between varietals – data that confirmed ‘the existence of a single, widely shared gene pool.’… …Gilmore et al. (2007) analyzed a globe-spanning collection and found a low rate of sequence variation…
    Compared to McPartland and Small’s original text:
    Mandolino et al. (2002) quantified DNA polymorphisms in ten drug- and fiber-type varieties. They found more variability between individuals within a variety than between varieties – data that confirmed “the existence of a single, widely shared gene pool.” In a worldwide collection of Cannabis, Gilmore et al. (2007) found a low rate of sequence variation (approximately 1 polymorphism per 1 kb sequenced cpDNA) – consistent with a single species.
    In total 45 words were lifted and used verbatim without attribution. 8 words were replaced (green highlight) 3 words were inserted (yellow highlight). The spelling of 2 words was altered (red strikethrough, blue highlight) and 21 words removed (red strikethrough).

    What’s worse is that Angus uses this plagiarized passage to argue that because the variation within groups is greater than the variation between groups there is no biological basis for the idea that there are landraces and therefore the term should be abandoned. On the contrary McPartland and Small the original authors of the passage use the term landrace throughout the paper, and they repeatedly cite Gilmore et al 2007 as evidence of genetic differentiation between landrace populations
    “Central and South Asian landraces face extinction through introgressive hybridization. Wiegand (1935) first described this phenomenon in plants. Introgression refers to the infiltration of genes between taxa through the bridge of F1 hybrids. Fertile offspring from these crosses may display hybrid vigor (enhanced fitness), and replace one or both parental populations (Ellstrand 2003). Recent phylogenetic studies of populations allegedly representing “Indica” and “Sativa” show little or no genetic differences, because these studies primarily analyzed hybrid “strains” (Sawler et al. 2015; Dufresnes et al. 2017; Schwabe and McGlaughlin 2018). These results conflict with studies of landraces collected in the 1970s–1990s, which showed much clearer genetic differences (Hillig 2005a; Gilmore et al. 2007).”
    McPartland JM, Small E (2020) A classification of endangered high-THC cannabis (Cannabis sativa subsp. indica) domesticates and their wild relatives. PhytoKeys 177: 81–112.
    And Here,
    “Landraces of South Asian heritage segregated from Central Asian landraces in an allozyme analysis (Hillig 2005a) and cpDNA haplotype study (Gilmore et al. 2007). “Sativa” and “Indica” were segregated with STR loci (Knight et al. 2010), RAPD markers (Piluzza et al. 2013), and nDNA SNP haplotypes (Henry 2015; Lynch et al. 2016).”
    McPartland JM, Small E (2020) A classification of endangered high-THC cannabis (Cannabis sativa subsp. indica) domesticates and their wild relatives. PhytoKeys 177: 81–112.
    With further reference to the previous passage here,
    “Allozyme and DNA studies that segregated Central Asian and South Asian domesticates are detailed in the genetics section of Variety 1.”
    McPartland JM, Small E (2020) A classification of endangered high-THC cannabis (Cannabis sativa subsp. indica) domesticates and their wild relatives. PhytoKeys 177: 81–112.
    McPartland and Small’s thesis explicitly states that their taxonomic investigation is specifically focused on distinct Central and South Asain landraces in hopes that identifying these vulnerable populations at risk of extinction can help further conservation efforts to prevent the extinction of these intraspecific taxa.
    The goal of this investigation was to identify “practical and natural” taxa within C. sativa subsp. indica. Our decision to cleave the subspecies into four varieties raises debates regarding nomenclatural priorities, nested hierarchies, and practical applications. We address these issues in Suppl. material 1: SF.13. Our emphasis has been on the domesticates, representing landraces of South Asian heritage (C. sativa subsp. indica var.indica), and Central Asian landraces (C. sativa subsp. indica var. afghanica). Several features tend to differentiate these taxa (Table 1). They are best segregated by their THC/CBD ratios and terpenoid profiles.
    McPartland JM, Small E (2020) A classification of endangered high-THC cannabis (Cannabis sativa subsp. indica) domesticates and their wild relatives. PhytoKeys 177: 81–112.
    And the author’s conclude the paper stating:
    The four Cannabis varieties circumscribed and named here merit formal recognition. Recognizing infraspecific taxa helps to identify populations vulnerable to extinction (e.g., Ellstrand 2003; Haig et al. 2006). In the wake of the United Nations Biodiversity Convention, infraspecific variation has become a focus for conservation efforts (Coates et al. 2018). Recognizing the four Cannabis varieties and their unique morphological and chemical characters also provides “prior art,” thwarting claims of originality in Cannabis utility patents.
    Collection and conservation of germplasm of indigenous populations of Central and South Asian landraces in their centers of diversity is urgently needed. The germplasm base outside their centers of diversity has become genetically contaminated by widespread crossbreeding. In the context of climate change and unpredictable future needs, in situ conservation of agrobiodiversity is much preferable for crop plants and their wild relatives, but given the precarious continued existence of unaltered aboriginal wild populations of Cannabis in Asia, preservation in seed banks is an immediate priority. Hopefully the unambiguous names provided may help prevent extinction of these taxa.
    McPartland JM, Small E (2020) A classification of endangered high-THC cannabis (Cannabis sativa subsp. indica) domesticates and their wild relatives. PhytoKeys 177: 81–112.
    Here we have two field experts McPartland and Small who have published a peer-reviewed scientific paper warning that there are critically endangered populations of landrace cannabis in central and south asia that will go extinct unless immediate action is taken to preserve these populations before they disappear completely (a paper that Angus has posted about dozens of times and appeared on podcasts to discuss the paper, so he’s well acquainted with it) and Angus has lifted a passage from this paper and removed all of the relevant context to argue there is no such thing as a landrace. Not only has Angus taken McPartland and Small research and writing and passed it off as his own, he completely mischaracterizes the original authors conclusions in the paper he has used to make his case.
    According to the MLA Handbook, 8th edition plagiarism is theft, and plagiarists are not only dishonest they are also incompetent and anything they write is suspect.
    Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines plagiarizing as committing “literary theft.” Plagiarism is presenting another’s ideas, information, expressions, or entire work as one’s own. It is thus a kind of fraud: deceiving others to gain something of value. While plagiarism only sometimes has legal repercussions (e.g., when it involves copyright infringement — violating an author’s legal right to publication), it is always as serious moral and ethical offense.
    What makes plagiarism a serious offense?
    Plagiarists are seen not only as dishonest but also as incompetent, incapable of doing research and expressing original thoughts. When professional writers are exposed as plagiarists, they are likely to lose their jobs and are certain to suffer public embarrassment, diminished prestige, and loss of future credibility. The same is true of other professionals who write in connection with their jobs, even when they are not writing for publication. The charge of plagiarism is serious because it calls into question everything about the writer’s work: if this piece of writing is misrepresented as being original, how can a reader trust any work by the writer? Once instance of plagiarism can cast a shadow across an entire career.
    MLA Handbook, 8TH EDITION, https://daytonastate.edu/cwc/files/Codex-MLA8.pdf
    Angus bases his argument on the following:
    The wrong definition of the term landrace refering to a breed of pigs that he imagines to have been named by Danish nazis despite there being no evidence of nazi involvement; instead of the more relevant definition of the term refering to localized plants and animals dating to the 1890s and international conservation discourse.
    The false assertion that the word ‘race’ in English unlike European language doesn’t mean breed and only “means race” when in fact the English term race can be defined as a breed and the term in English has its origins in continental Europe.
    An unattributed passage lifted (plagiarized) from McPartland and Small (2020) to argue that there is no such thing as a landrace, contrary to original authors’ conclusions that there are in fact landraces that are critically endangered and facing extinction.

    There is no historical, etymological, scientific, or factual basis for Angus’s argument that the term landrace has its origins in or perpetuates the idea of scientific racism. This argument is fundamentally based on an intellectually dishonest and deceptive (mis)representation of the source material.

    • Thanks for posting.

      To be honest, this argument is based on misreading or misunderstanding what I wrote. In other words, you seem to have misconstrued the piece.

      I don’t say that the word landrace is from the Nazis.

      Nor do I argue that landraces don’t exist. In the context of Cannabis, ‘landrace’ is just an outdated term for traditional domesticates.

      It’s best to look up the term ‘race’ in real dictionaries, not sites like ‘The Free Dictionary’

      You will not find ‘race’ defined in the sense breed in the online Oxford English Dictionary, because no native speaker has applied or understood ‘race’ in this sense for well over a century.

      You won’t find it in the Cambridge Dictionary either for the same reason

      The most prestigious dictionary of American English, Merriam-Webster, does still bother to list the defunct meaning ‘breed’ as ‘Archaic’, ie. no longer in use, so no longer a meaning that is understood by native speakers of English.

      Archaic : breed
      ‘Under these conditions, a race of highly … delicate, and gentle cattle had been developed.’— Henry E. Alvord

      That’s Henry E. Alvord (March 11, 1844 – October 1, 1904), so being generous, roughly 117 years ago.

      The argument about the term ‘race’ meaning ‘breed’ dating back to the 14th century (i.e. Middle English) is what’s known as an etymological fallacy.

      We’re no longer in an era where this term landrace is confined to experts who understand genetics and what the term landrace really means. The term could potentially even end up on packaging, menus, and adverts around the world. Land + race. It surprises me anyone fails to see the problem.

      • You lifted a passage from McPartland and Small 2020. Those are not your words. It is not your research. You’ve taken McPartland and Small’s words and research and presented it as your own without any attribution to the original authors. This is a textbook example of plagiarism.
        It is intellectually dishonest and lame to steal other author’s work. You have linked and cited nearly dozen other sources in this post yet you’re blatantly refusing to credit McPartland and Small for writing the passage you have lifted from their paper. This speaks volumes.

        I understand your argument perfectly well. You’ve made a strawman argument to try to argue that the term landrace is rooted in and perpetuates scientific racism. You very clearly and explicitly trace the term landrace back to the nazis. Your post starts:

        “Landrace is a nasty-sounding word that brings with it not just the stink of pigsties but 1930s Europe,…It’s enough that in our era there are smokers who are Nazis. Now you can’t even speak about these plants without sounding like Himmler yourself. Landraces! …should I salute?…”

        Even though you cite Zeven 1998, at no point in your entire post or any of the commentary that you’ve made on this subject do you mention the use of the term landrace in the context of international conservation discourse where the term landrace was initially used in the 1890s and continues to be used to this day among both academics and the cannabis community. On the contrary you’ve actively censored any mention of the use of the term in the context of international conservation discourse in the comments on your posts.

        By tracing the origin of the term landrace to pig breeders in the 1930s and the Nazis without acknowledging and discussing the actual origins of the term and its use in contemporary conservation discourse you’ve created a strawman arguement to support the assertion that the term landrace is rooted in scientific racism of nazi Germany.

        This strawman argument that you have constructed is couched in the rhetoric of etymology and tracing the term to its origins in scientific racism.

        Let’s be very clear you have tried to make an etymological argument that the root word ‘race’ in landrace is distinct in English relative to continental European languages that is irrelevant because for starters everyone of these dictionaries defines the term landrace independently of the term ‘race’ there is no need to introduce the etymology of the term ‘race’ into the discussion

        For example here is the definition Lexico,

        Pronunciation /ˈlandreɪs/
        1A pig of a white lop-eared breed, originally developed in Denmark.
        More example sentences
        ‘For these reasons, a high priority has long been set for breeding submergence-tolerant rice in the tropics utilizing the inherent variability in tolerance known to be present in the available landraces.’

        2A local cultivar or animal breed that has been improved by traditional agricultural methods.
        ‘Because of maternal inheritance of chloroplasts, we attempted, when possible, to use landraces and cultivars derived from selections to avoid loss of chloroplast information from hybridization events.’

        1930s from Danish.

        Webster’s dictionary defines the term landrace
        landrace noun (1)
        land·​race | \ ˈlan(d)-ˌrās \
        plural landraces
        Definition of landrace (Entry 1 of 2): a local variety of a species of plant or animal that has distinctive characteristics arising from development and adaptation over time to conditions of a localized geographic region and that typically displays greater genetic diversity than types subjected to formal breeding practices

        Landrace noun (2)
        Land·​ra·​ce | \ ˈlän(d)-ˌrä-sə \
        plural Landraces
        Definition of Landrace (Entry 2 of 2): a usually white, long-bodied pig of any of several breeds having large, drooping ears and developed from stock of the original Danish breed derived from a localized population of free-breeding swine native to Denmark

        First Known Use of landrace
        Noun (1)
        1939, in the meaning defined above

        Noun (2)
        1908, in the meaning defined above

        History and Etymology for landrace
        Noun (1)
        probably partly from Landrace, partly as translation of German Landrasse or Dutch landras

        Noun (2)
        borrowed from Danish, from land “country” (going back to Old Danish, going back to Germanic *landa-) + race “breed, race,” borrowed from French — more at LAND entry 1, RACE entry 1

        (If anyone is under the misapprehension that lexico is a reliable source take note of the example sentence for the first definition referring to rice as an example of how to use a term defined as a breed of pigs in a sentence, note how Lexico fails to accurately represent the origin of term landrace making no mention of the fact that the term was first defined 1908, as noted in Merriam-Webster dictionary and Zeven 1998)

        Furthermore the etymological distinction between ‘race’ in English and continental European languages simply does not exist because they all share the same origin and continue to share the same meaning in contemporary usage.

        The free dictionary definition of ‘race’ that you’ve dismissed as “garbage” comes from, The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition (2011).

        “race 1 (rās)
        5. Biology
        a. A usually geographically isolated population of organisms that differs from other populations of the same species in certain heritable traits: an island race of birds.
        b. A breed or strain, as of domestic animals”.

        It’s disingenuous to pretend that the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language is a fake or “garbage” dictionary. It is a real and valid dictionary. It’s also disingenuous to pretend that a definition published in an English dictionary in 2011 is archaic.

        This is also not the only dictionary that defines ‘race’ as ‘breed’. The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, published by Oxford University Press, the same publisher as the OED, defines ‘race’ as it relates to plants and animals as “a breed or type of animal or plant.” https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/us/definition/english/race_1?q=Race

        The Concise Oxford English Dictionary includes as the definition of race, “genus or species or breed or variety of animals or plants, any great division of living creatures” https://archive.org/details/TheConciseOxfordDictionaryOfCurrent/page/n701/mode/2up

        These definitions come from reputable dictionaries that directly refute the assertion that race in “contemporary Standard English only ever means race.” Clearly it also means breed.

        Let’s be real, before anyone gets carried away thinking Lexico.com, is a reliable source, remember lexico is not a dictionary. Lexico is “powered” by the OED but it does not accurately represent the over 100 definitions of the term race that are contained within the OED. And if anyone thinks Lexico is a reliable source for definitions, look at the definition of ‘landrace’ and the example sentence for the first entry. The definition states landrace is a breed of pig. The example sentence is about landrace rice and has nothing to do with the pig breed.

        Every single dictionary as well as all of the academic sources that have been cited in this discussion trace the same etymological origin of the term ‘race’ in the English language in this context to continental European languages. The OED traces the exact same etymological origin of the term ‘race’ entering English from continental Europe in the 16th century. The term ‘race’ in English has the same origin and meaning as the term does in continental European languages from which it comes. The term ‘race’ is also still defined in dictionaries as recently as 2011 as ‘breed’.

        The term landrace has its origins in international conservation discourse:

        “At the ‘Internationaler landund forstwirtschaft-licher (agriculture and forestry) Congress’ at Viennain 1890 for the first time the participants E. vonProskowetz and F. Schindler proposed to discuss the conservation of landraces as genetic resources, …The subject of conservation of landraces as a point for discussion, was raised again at the Congress held in 1906, but apparently without outcome. However, after 37 years, during the International Agricultural Congress at Rome in 1927 organized by the International Agricultural Institute (the predecessor of the FAO) the conservation of landraces was extensively discussed….” (Zeven 1998).

        The UN Convention on Biological Diversity has established the protection of landraces as part the international treaty framework for protecting global biodiversity. Cataloguing and characterizing landraces is essential to accomplishing International Treaty obligation under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity:

        “It is acknowledged that agro-biodiversity is a finite world resource that we know is being eroded or lost in part due to careless, unsustainable human practices. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD, 1992), the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (FAO, 2001) and the Global Plant Conservation Strategy (CBD, 2002a), recognized the requirement for the conservation of agro-biodiversity and called for conservationists to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their conservation actions. The Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD, 2002b) has established the 2010 Biodiversity Targets that draw attention to the need for conservation of the “genetic diversity of crops, livestock, and harvested species of trees, fish and wildlife and other valuable species conserved … restore, maintain or reduce the decline of populations of species” and committed the parties “to achieve by 2010 a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level as a contribution to poverty alleviation and to the benefit of all life on earth”. …. Those countries that are signatories to both the CBD and the International Treaty have an obligation and responsibility for the conservation of their potential or actual agro-biodiverse important species. Furthermore, if the CBD 2010 Biodiversity Target is to be met, along with the requirements of other relevant international, regional and national strategies and legislation, we need to be able to produce comprehensive inventories and systematically conserve landraces and other varieties ex situ in genebanks and in situ on-farm, as well as promoting their sustainable utilization.”(Negri et al . 2009. European landraces on-farm conservation, management and use. Bioversity Technical Bulletin No. 15.)

        Landraces are one of the primary focuses of international conservationists trying to prevent genetic erosion and preserve crop biodiversity. The Food and Agriculture Organization defines Genetic erosion:
        “Loss of genetic diversity, in a particular location and over a particular period of time, including the loss of individual genes, and the loss of particular combinations of genes such as those manifested in landraces or varieties. It is thus a function of change of genetic diversity over time.” (FAO, 2002)

        Landraces are the most threatened genetic resources without conservation efforts complete extinction of landraces is inevitable:

        “Landraces are the most threatened element of plant genetic resources and remain an urgent priority for conservation action for the following reasons: Landrace diversity is directly threatened by replacement by modern varieties… Unless action is taken immediately, losses of landraces will continue and complete extinction is the only possible conclusion….” (Negri et al . 2009. European landraces on-farm conservation, management and use. Bioversity Technical Bulletin No. 15.)

        It is understood in international conservation discourse that genetic erosion in the form of the loss of landraces is also a form of cultural erosion as the locally adapted landraces deeply intertwined with local communities and cultures:

        “Beside the obvious practical breeding and conservation consequences of the loss of landrace genetic diversity, scholars of human sciences are also alarmed because of the loss of crop-related culture. … The disappearance of landraces not only means local genetic erosion but also ‘local cultural erosion’, by which both biological and cultural evolution is hampered.” (Negri et al . 2009. European landraces on-farm conservation, management and use. Bioversity Technical Bulletin No. 15.)

        It is understood by experts like Loren Rieseberg that the introduction of modern hybrids into centers of diversity can result in introgressive hybridization causing genetic swamping and driving the extinction of rare taxa:

        “Hybridization may drive rare taxa to extinction through genetic swamping, where the rare form is replaced by hybrids, or by demographic swamping, where population growth rates are reduced due to the wasteful production of maladaptive hybrids. Conversely, hybridization may rescue the viability of small, inbred populations. Understanding the factors that contribute to destructive versus constructive outcomes of hybridization is key to managing conservation concerns. Here, we survey the literature for studies of hybridization and extinction to identify the ecological, evolutionary, and genetic factors that critically affect extinction risk through hybridization. We find that while extinction risk is highly situation dependent, genetic swamping is much more frequent than demographic swamping. In addition, human involvement is associated with increased risk and high reproductive isolation with reduced risk. Although climate change is predicted to increase the risk of hybridization-induced extinction, we find little empirical support for this prediction. Similarly, theoretical and experimental studies imply that genetic rescue through hybridization may be equally or more probable than demographic swamping, but our literature survey failed to support this claim. We conclude that halting the introduction of hybridization-prone exotics and restoring mature and diverse habitats that are resistant to hybrid establishment should be management priorities. (Loren Rieseberg et. al. “Hybridization and extinction” 2016)

        Numerous authors have made similar arguments regarding cannabis, as I already noted in my first post McPartland and Small have characterized Central and South Asian cannabis landraces as critically endangered. In “Cannabis : evolution and ethnobotany” Robert C. Clarke, Mark D. Merlin. 2013 argue that the Introduction of outside genetic material into centers of biodiversity and distinct isolated populations, particularly in an outcrossing wind pollinated crop such as cannabis, can result in Hybridization and Introgression of forgien genetic material into the distinct local populations causing the extinction of the local landrace.

        “…in recent years, hybrid seed produced in North America and Europe has been increasingly grown in traditional marijuana and hashish producing nations (e.g., Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, Jamaica, Colombia, and Thailand). … As exotic seed is increasingly disseminated to commercial growing regions, introduced varieties hybridize with established traditional varieties. Consequently the genetically pure local landraces are contaminated with introduced genes and become extinct…” (Clarke and Merlin 2013)

        The term landrace as it is used in the cannabis community is squarely situated within the historical and contemporary context of the terms origins and use in international conservation discourse from which it emerged and is not rooted in nazi race science or 1930s Danish pig farming. When McPartland and Small, Clarke and Merlin and other experts use the term landrace they’re using the term in this context. When people like myself use the term having read these authors we’re using the term in this context too.

      • Okiedokes, but important here is what the American Heritage Dictionary is

        Likewise, Merriam-Webster is the most prestigious dictionary of American English.

        ‘Race’ definitely isn’t understood to mean ‘breed’ or ‘strain’ in contemporary Standard English.

        Honestly, I’ve spent the past three years doing what little I can to drive into cannabis aficionados heads’ that landrace doesn’t mean ‘wild / race’ but ‘domesticate’.

        There’s a reason why that’s been necessary.

        ‘Landrace’ is no longer confined to specialists who understand what it means.

        The word could very well soon end up on packaging, adverts, and billboards around the world.

        If most aficionados haven’t yet got their head round what it means, what ideas is someone buying cannabis at a store going to take away?

        This isn’t a discussion about experts or plants

        i.e., what you’ve written above regarding the use of the term in specialist literature by actual experts is beside the point

        Most people still think race is a real thing – a biological fact of life – and the last three years of misuse of this term by aficionados demonstrate Cannabis is open to reinforcing that delusion, if this jargon gets popularized

        People hear ‘race’ in it, and about the last thing we need is for Cannabis to get further racialized

        Also – etymological fallacy: “The etymological fallacy is a genetic fallacy that holds that the present-day meaning of a word or phrase should necessarily be similar to its historical meaning. This is a linguistic misconception….”

  3. This argument is a kin to going up to someone and saying stop calling these boat races ‘races’ because race is racist.

    You’re over here talking about pigs and nazis trying convince people that landrace is racist ignoring the fact that everyone else who uses the term is talking about plants and conservation.

  4. The old stinky world of dishonesty is holding tight to the grip of the new Earth spaceship,, thinking they are on the right side of history,, and for example, advocating for hybrid strains as they perfectly know that these are spiritually sick and poor in genetics. That’s not going to work no more in this new world where people are craving for authenticity. Landraces is a very unattractive term that reduces the most beautiful traditionnal cannabis strains to 3rd class crops and make them unappealling to curious growers around the world. Fortunately, I am granted the ability to smell the stinky and lowly energy that surrounds that term — I am glad I did overlook my first impression.

    Anyways its very impressive to see such dedication and volumes of text: none of which is relevant or bringing anything to the conversation: you are speaking from a 45° degrees vision that numbs you and prevents you from being open to the possibility that all of which you thought you knew, you actually dont know.

    Keep trying to fight what is under life and light entities protection: you will get burnt my dears

    Have fun growing sick and poor material


    • “Landraces is a very unattractive term”. Right!

      Who would want to use such an ugly word with such grim connotations to describe such a beautiful plant?

      Fwiw, I’m not against modern hybrids. Variety is the spice of life. But what I am against is wiping out millions of years of biodiversity by reckless uncontrolled introduction of these plants to places such as the Himalaya.

      • Yeah. I am obviously not against breeding: but the intention in which it is done can be disastreous,, seeing how capitalism works most of the time: sacrificing delicous taste, medium thc rates for poor taste and high thc, or vice versa; one does not manipulate sacred plants for profit only !

        Hey I am looking forward to grow Kumaoni !

        Kind regards

  5. You started by arguing that the term landrace is rooted in and perpetuates scientific racism.

    To support this assertion you attempt to trace the origin of the term to the race science of 1930s Europe, specifically the Nazis.

    To further your claim that the term landrace is racist you asserted that the term race in English ONLY EVER means biological race and not breed, and that ALL native English speakers understand race to mean biological race and only that, citing Hawkes 1983 definition of the term landrace.

    You also attempted to use genetic studies to make an analogous argument to that made by geneticists who criticize racial categorization of humans applying this logic to cannabis to argue that because difference within groups is greater than between them that there are no biologically distinct populations, citing Adam Rutherford, Ernest Small and lifting a passage from McPartland and Small.

    You were very explicit early on that “THE ISSUE” was “keeping the dangerous concept of race alive IN THE FIELD OF SCIENCE”.

    This is the argument that I have responded to:

    In response to your claim that the term ‘landrace’ is rooted in scientific racism of 1930s Germany I have cited the specialist literature tracing the origin and meaning of the term ‘landrace’ from its first use in international conservation discourse in the 1890s to the present citing numerous field experts from Zeven to Negri, and McPartland and Small. I have pointed out that this is the actual origin and meaning of the term and that there is no evidence nor basis in fact for the assertion that the term ‘landrace’ is rooted in or that it perpetuates scientific racism. You have conceded this point and tried to change the subject instead of defending your argument.

    In response to your claim that ‘race’ in English “ONLY EVER” means biological ‘race’ I have cited numerous dictionaries that define ‘race’ as ‘breed’ from American Heritage Dictionary 1st edition to the 5th edition (1969, 2011) to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary 10th edition published by Oxford University Press (2020), to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary published by OUP (1919), and I can also cite Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary published by G. & C. Merriam Co. (1913) and Webster’s New World College Dictionary, 4th Edition (2004). I can also cite Roget’s 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition (2005) which includes ‘breed’ as a synonym for ‘race’ as does Lexico.com. The source material makes it abundantly clear that the term ‘race’ has been defined as and used synonymously with the term ‘breed’ in English at the time of and after the term landrace was first used in the 1890s and defined in 1908. ‘Race’ was defined in both continental European languages and English as ‘breed’ at the time the term ‘landrace’ was first defined and it is defined as such to this day in multiple dictionaries and reference guides cited above.

    In response to your attempt to use the genetic studies to try to debunk the use of the term landrace in cannabis I have cited the McParland and Small paper at length showing that you have both plagiarized their work lifting a passage from their 2020 paper without attribution, and that you have consistently mischaracterized their findings to argue there is no such thing as a landrace. The argument that because genetic diversity is greater within than between populations that therefore there is no such thing as a landrace is contrary to the conclusion of McPartland and Small and the entire scientific literature focused on the preservation and maintenance of crop biodiversity.

    You made a series of assertions; these assertions have been thoroughly debunked and refuted. The origins of the term landrace in scientific literature traces back to the 1890s international conservation efforts, not racist science of the nazis. The term ‘race’ was defined as ‘breed’ at the time landrace was first used and defined and this definition can be found in numerous dictionaries and reference guides to this day, contrary to the assertion that race ONLY EVER means biological race in english. Cannabis landraces are genetically diverse and distinct populations that are critically endangered by the introduction of foreign and hybrid genetic material into centers of diversity, acknowledging this fact does not perpetuate scientific racism it complicates and challenges outdated scientific racism in the same way contemporary genetics has because landraces are phenotypically and genetically diverse yet distinct populations that don’t conform to outdated notions of monotypic racial categories and outdated theories of racial purity.

    Instead of defending your initial argument about how the term landrace has its origins in and perpetuates scientific racism framing ‘the issue’ as the danger of keeping race alive “in the field of science” you are now simply trying to change the subject shifting the focus of the discussion to concerns about the use of the term landrace on packaging and marketing. It’s ironic that you started by citing McPartland and Small repeatedly telling people that they used domesticate instead of landrace and encouraging people to read scientific literature to now argue the “specialist literature by actual experts is…a total and utter irrelevance.”

      • I have quoted and accurately summarized the argument. Let’s be honest you’ve repeatedly mischaracterized the source material and demonstrated your bad faith engagement with this subject matter, it’s not like you have any credibility at this point. Essentially every statement you have made has been proven to be demonstrable false.

  6. Pingback: Endangered Varieties of subsp. indica: A Few Thoughts | The Real Seed Company: The Honest Online Source for Cannabis Landraces Founded 2007·

  7. Damn. I got excited when I saw landrace. That was why I bought them. I knew they were going to be some strains from areas of the world that have been propagated by people and passed generationally. Which does not make them a landrace. Seriously the word is not that bad. I realized it is a description. Anyways. The RIF guy just wants to argue. It seems his supremecy is rubbing off on cannabis. Opinions are opinions. Words are misused all over. The word Race is always misused. Racism misused. Maybe everybody should lighten up. Stop reading screens. Go outside. Smoke an old domesticate. Stop arguing about mundane opinions. Draw a picture. Write a poem. Dictionaries are culturally biased anyhow. Definitions reflect the time period.cannabis use to be defined as a hard drug. Think about it. We should be talking about low germination rates.

  8. “landraces” does seem to imply a natural origin for distinct populations taking away from the human intercourse with the plant across generations.
    It’s just as easy and much nicer to say traditional strains/cultigens and doesn’t take away from anyone.

    • hi – thanks for commenting. I totally agree. An equation forms: “land” plus “race” = wild.

      Erasing the role of farming communities in the creation of these plants is a real problem. And that’s exactly what the widespread misunderstanding of this term “landrace” has done – erase people from the picture. In reality, these plants are creations of people, often people from marginalized, impoverished, and oppressed communities such as in the Hindu Kush or Himalaya.

  9. In humans as, as I understand the word race refers to residents of a particular country ie the Italian race. It was used to distinguish different countries residents. However, like cannabis, the boundaries in Europe have never been set in stone today’s English are really from Present day France.They came and exterminated the people living there. I would bet that a black Frenchman ( a no no word to some ) would say he’s a Frenchman. cannabis has migrated with humans throughout the world and changed by humans to fit their uses what ever they may be.
    Look at Hawaii cannabis was brought from many countries acclimatized to the local climate. How long it has been there is debatable. A friend showed me a book on Hawaiian plants written in the ‘60’s the author stated that the cannabis growing there was very potent and mentioned that it was illegal. Yet breeders sell Hawaiian land races.

    • hi Jim, thanks for commenting

      Just on this aspect of your comment: “today’s English are really from Present day France. They came and exterminated the people living there.”

      Assuming you’re referring to the Norman Conquest, it’s worth noting the Normans weren’t exactly from France so much as of Norse Viking origin. There is evidence for extensive oppression of the then English under Norman rule. But “extermination” is not even slightly accurate for the type of violence. See the link below.

      English is a Germanic language and the ‘Anglo-Saxon’ migrations to England came from various regions of northern Europe. Modern inhabitants of the British Isles exhibit a complex genetic map at odds with the familiar narratives about native ‘Celts’ etc.

  10. Battle of the BIG BRAINS^…

    I agree with Angus here. I use the following: Locality Cannabis, Traditional Cannabis, Vintage Locality Cannabis, Old-School Cannabis, Heirloom Cannabis, Traditional Heirloom Cannabis, Vintage Heirloom Cannabis,…

    I got the word “traditional” from Angus. Well done! I never liked the term “landrace” from the moment I first discovered it. I immediately realized that it was an outdated Germanic expression and felt that it only added to the confusion when talking about these plants, where we have an opportunity to spread awareness of these special plants.

    The funny thing though is that, due to the hostile racial politics in the states, around here if you deny race (as a valid belief system), you will likely be accused of being a “racist” who is “colorblind,” lol.

    Cheers! Keep up the good work Angus and remember to take it easy on us pea brains!

    • hi David, thanks for the comment, appreciated

      Race very definitely exists as a concept, but as you say or imply, racial categories have not got any biological basis when applied to humans

      On its own terms, the notion of human races is nonsense

      If you made that clear to the folks in your region but they still accused you of being “colorblind”, then that may be another case of well-intentioned antiracism becoming a problem in itself

      “Intersectional” theory has already begun to propagate antisemitism, perhaps unsurprisingly. The unspoken reasoning being that Jews are “white” so hostility to Jews is ok because it’s “punching up” etc. etc. etc.

      Currently, I’m trying to write a friendly review of a very crap book called ‘The African Roots of Marijuana’ that’s full of half-baked sociological stuff that conflates self-identified Aryan nations from prehistory or the Axial Age with European fascism etc.

      ie. campus antiracism from the States sadly often as not becomes a form of colonial discourse in itself, trampling angry feet across other times and cultures, tripping on its own anachronistic categories as it goes….

      Oh well….

  11. So after you were clowned for mischaracterizing the history and meaning of the term you’ve completely replaced the original article with out any acknowledgment or admission that your original piece was embarrassingly off base. What is it about the fact that the term Landrace emerged out of international conservation efforts that makes you so uncomfortable? Why do you try to obscure and hide this fact form your readers? Sadly, any credibility you might have on this subject has been completely lost as a result of your unwillingness to engage the subject in an open and honest fashion.

    • Hi – thanks for the comment…

      I’ve condensed the earlier version – which anyone can find archived if they want to know what it really says – down to this:

      “Folks are taking that ‘race’ to mean, well, race, when popular understanding of the science of race is stuck somewhere back in the 1930s.”

      As for conservation –

      See our ‘About Us’ for how conservation / preservation of biodiversity are central to our goals. We’re in regular contact with crop scientists, economic botanists at germplasm banks etc.

      Regarding this claim that “the term Landrace emerged out of international conservation efforts”….

      The context of the first use of the term was iirc late C19 and certainly early C20 crop and livestock breeding – eg by Kurt von Rümker (1859-1940) a Professor of Plant Production in Berlin

      As the term is now misused and misunderstood throughout the world of Cannabis, and in the context of ubiquitous public misunderstanding and obsessions about ‘race’ more generally, I think it’s clear to most sensible people that the term is at very least very problematic…. Pretending otherwise does nobody any favours….

      The rest of the comment is just silly stuff, but thanks for posting anyway

      All the best,


  12. this “reading is fundamental” guy is just too funny.. spending hours and writing an entire book just to try to make someone look bad who has nothing but good intention.. lmao

    anyways, thanks for the article, and thank you for your work, preserving these strains and keeping “natural” cannabis alive and accessible for others. It’s really a shame that 99.9% of cannabis seeds available have been bred (and crossed) for generations under artificial light (with synthetic nutritions). It’s just ill. And almost nobody sees a problem there. I think it’s safe to say that no human would like to be locked up in a basement under LED lights, his kids never seeing sunlight ever and so on.
    I understand that indoor growing has its pros, like protection from bad weather. But overall it is just unnatural, likely creating creating retarded plants in a subtle way. I believe there are studies who show that the plants production of cannabinoids for example is influenced by all kinds of wavelengths that you don’t get from artificial light.
    Hopefully next year cannabis will be legal in Germany so I can grow these strains and see the difference myself 🙂

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