A Spanish term meaning “seedless,” sinsemilla refers to cannabis grown without seeds. In the wild, cannabis grows seeds along with buds so when it dies, it will grow again the following year. Growing sinsemilla cannabis was adopted in the 1960s and ‘70s to produce buds without seeds for consumers, by only growing bud-producing female cannabis plants and not allowing them to get pollinated. For those who don’t grow cannabis, sinsemilla may sound like a specific strain, when in actuality, it’s a female plant that has been prevented from being fertilized and therefore grows without seeds. Most people want to grow sinsemilla plants because it produces flower with a higher THC content, versus putting all of its energy into producing seeds. Having said this, sinsemilla plants are rare because they’re unable to reproduce until it’s fertilized.
History of sinsemilla
Cannabis can be male or female, and in the wild males pollinate females, which then produce seeds. The genetics of both male and female plants are passed down to the seeds, so that when a female plant dies—cannabis is an annual, growing and dying each year—it drops seeds, which grow into new plants the following spring.
Only female cannabis plants produce buds, so when they are pollinated, seeds grow with the buds. Sinsemilla, or “seedless” cannabis was grown to keep seeds out of female plants so they only produce buds. To grow sinsemilla cannabis, male plants are discard or moved away from females before they develop pollen sacs and can pollinate females. This allows female plants to focus their resources on bud production instead of seed production.
Growing cannabis with seeds is beneficial for the natural evolution of the plant. Plants naturally evolved within their environment, picking up traits and characteristics that helped them better survive their environment.
The biology of sinsemilla: why is it more potent?
The development of the sinsemilla growing technique sparked an increase in potency of market cannabis for two reasons. Not only does seedless cannabis contain more THC, but its advent and spread also were the first time selective breeding was used to choose specimens for their increased potency.
The exact biological mechanism describing the increased potency of seedless cannabis from seeded has not been properly studied in a rigorous, scientific manner. However, an understanding of the descriptive botany of cannabis has provided a sound explanation for this phenomenon.
Female cannabis plants begin to flower when the days get shorter in the late summer. The amount of time it takes from the first sign of showing flowers to when they are fully ripe and ready to harvest in the fall is commonly referred to as its flowering period. Wild-grown, fertilized cannabis plants produce seeds during this time, and eventually drop them and die as temperatures cool in the fall. However, unfertilized cannabis lives longer and continues to produce flowers for up to a month longer than if it were fertilized. Vegetative growth of the stem and leaves would have ceased at the beginning of the flowering cycle, so all further growth happens in the buds, which become larger and more developed.
In addition to the extra lifetime of unfertilized female cannabis, the extra available metabolic energy that would have otherwise been dedicated to seed production is also thought to be a factor for the increase in potency. Cannabinoids are a component of the sticky oleoresin that forms on the outside of the bracts, the part of the anatomy which holds the seeds. It has been postulated that a lack of hormone-directed metabolism for the production of lipids and proteins in the seed will cause an amplification of the other, existing metabolic pathways: cannabinoid, terpene, and flavonoid biosynthesis.
The increased cannabinoid production in sinsemilla is very clear when looking at available data that tracks cannabis potency from the last 20-30 years. According to an Archival Report from the Society of Biological Psychiatry, the main factor driving the increase in potency of cannabis in the United States is the increase in the proportion of high potency seedless relative to seeded cannabis.
Edible, nutrient-dense cannabis seeds are sought by small, foraging animals.
In the wild, cannabis has adopted the survival strategy of producing the maximum amount of seeds it can before death in the hopes that enough remain to sow the next generation the following spring. The seeds can make up to 50% of the mass of a dried, seeded cannabis bud, which represents a significant hardship for distribution and consumption of seeded cannabis.
For consumers, seeds are a nuisance that require users to meticulously pick through the buds by hand. Smoked seeds create an unpleasant flavor reminiscent of a coal-fired stove.
Benefits of sinsemilla
Before sinsemilla became a standard practice among cultivators, there was a good chance weed you grew or bought had seeds in the buds. Bud with seeds are generally considered lower quality—seeds lead to a harsh smoke.
With sinsemilla, the cannabis plant can divert all its energies and resources on producing buds, instead of seeds. This leads to better quality and higher potency buds, and also higher yields because there won’t be seeds in the buds. The difference in potency is so drastic that when consumers first started smoking sinsemilla, they thought it was a different species of cannabis.
Is Sensimilla rare?
Today sinsemilla isn’t so rare a thing because it’s easier than ever for growers to make sure crops of cannabis are entirely female with controlled greenhouses, hydroponic techniques, and the ability to get female clones or feminized seeds. Having an indoor environment to grow sinsemilla cannabis is ideal, as plants grown outdoors can be inadvertently fertilized by male plants growing unknown to you beyond your garden and it’s easier to administer special care.
To end, the term “sinsemilla” can be used to describe any female cannabis plants that haven’t been exposed to male plants and fertilized. With this better understanding of what a sinsemilla cannabis plant is, you’ll be able to explain the difference to friends and spot excellent samples on the spot.
Despite not being called that way anymore, it’s super easy to find feminized seeds nowadays, these feminized seeds are what will result in sinsemilla buds if grown properly.
So now that you know exactly what sinsemilla is, get your seeds ready and get growing!