Durban Poison strain – an energetic landrace sativa

Durban poison strain: graphic of africa over sea of cannabis colas

In a world of dessert strains and shelves filled with hybrids, it’s exciting to find true landrace like the Durban Poison strain. A landrace strain is a cannabis plant that evolved over generations in its natural habitat.

These strains are the backbone of all modern cannabis varieties. Hindu Kush comes from the Kush Mountains, Acapulco Gold comes from Central and South America, and pure sativa Durban Poison originated in South Africa.

Durban Poison is a strain coveted for its cerebral high just as much as its complex terpene profile and naturally high concentration of THCV. But the aromatics aren’t the only complexity of this sativa strain. It also has a history.

Durban Poison strain: graphic of Africa over cannabis clones

Origins of the landrace strain

High Times writer and legendary cannabis cultivator Ed Rosenthal is said to have brought the first Durban Poison seeds to the U.S. Of course, the history of this plant dates far beyond his find (all the way back to Durban, South Africa), but here’s a solid view of its journey to the U.S.

On a tour of Amsterdam in the 1970s, the writer and weed expert visited Transvaal coffee shop, named after a South African province. The cannabis coffee shop was owned and operated by some white South Africans who imported cannabis from the southernmost African country.

The Durban Poison tried that day had an “even, mellow high,” according to a statement provided by Rosenthal to GreenStatel. The horticulturist noted that growing Durban was seasonal in South Africa due to the country’s distance from the equator. However, Rosenthal suspected Durban Poison could thrive in California’s temperate, consistent Mediterranean climate.

Luckily, the bag contained some seeds, which Rosenthal promptly plucked up. He brought the bag of seeds back to California, where he and his writing partner, Mel Frank, started experimenting with stabilizing the genetics. According to Rosenthal, he gave seeds to “many people.”

The original seeds were quick to grow and quick to ripen. However, they were intersex, a common trait of landrace strains. Frank eventually passed Durban Poison strain seeds to Skunkman Sam, who bred it out after many growth cycles. In the mid-80s, Skunkman Sam moved to Amsterdam from California, bringing the new Durban back to her homeland.

That’s how the seeds found their way to Neville Schoenmakers, the cannabis breeder who founded The Seed Bank of Holland. The perfected landrace strain skyrocketed in popularity soon after it returned to Amsterdam. By 2010, the plant was getting the first prize for Best Sativa at the High Times Cup.

Durban Poison aesthetics: the look, smell, and effects

From an unmistakable scent to effects that may fuel a spark of creativity, Durban Poison is blessed with beautiful traits. There isn’t another strain that matches Durban Poison’s sweet, fresh scent.

This sativa strain has an unmistakable aroma that starts with pungent lemon and pine overtones, only to have a surprising mint on the back end. The buds will be pine tree-shaped and light green with light orange pistils sprinkled evenly around the nug. Real Durban is sticky icky, leaving residue on the fingers that break the little trees apart.

Soon after toking on Durban, effects may initially settle in the nasal region. The vibes quickly cruise to the eyes before enveloping the head and mind with a buzz compared to a double shot of espresso. Many who consume a Durban Poison strain find themselves busy for a few hours before realizing weed has something to do with it.

Genetics impact how a plant grows, but the environment also plays a role. Every Durban Poison plant won’t be identical based on its cultivation temperature, airflow, and more. But despite differing test results, every Durban Poison strain has a few things in common. One of those things is the minor cannabinoids it produces.

Durban Poison strain: graphic of Africa over cannabis plants

Durban Poison cannabinoids

The cannabinoids in Durban Poison often include THCV and other minor cannabinoids. As for THC, Durban Poison generally tests over 20 percent. Test results from three separate cultivators tested by different cannabis labs show that the sativa also contains noteworthy concentrations of THCV and CBG. Results from Heylo by Confident Analytics found relevant quantities of CBC in Durban Poison grown by Washington cannabis brand Ravengrass.

THCV is often the most coveted minor cannabinoid in Durban Poison. It could also be the reason behind the crisp, clear effects the plant may deliver. Some of this could also be related to the terpene profile, which can differ from flower to flower.

Durban Poison terpene profile

Heylo lists caryophyllene, a-Maaliene, and humulene as the top terpenes in Durban Poison, but results from Sofresh farms in Oregon highlight different terp stars. This cut produced 15.4 percent terpinolene followed by five percent beta-ocimene, and almost three percent myrcene. The varying results could be attributed to plant environment or terpene testing methods, which haven’t been standardized throughout testing labs.

Durban Poison strain: final words

This strain of cannabis is desired by many– and rightfully so. Durban Poison seeds have traveled the globe. From its home in the Durban province of South Africa, to Amsterdam coffee shops, to the sunny hills of California, and back again– this strain is a world traveler.

Cannabis connoisseurs are thankful for that journey. The crisp caffeine-like effects preceded by a delightful sensory experience tantalize the palate from numerous angles. It doesn’t matter if the specialty cannabinoid content or exotic terpene profile is to thank, Durban Poison is a strain worth the hype.

Cara Wietstock is Senior Content Producer of and has been working in the cannabis space since 2011. She has covered the cannabis business beat for Ganjapreneur and The Spokesman Review. You can find her living in Bellingham, Washington with her husband, son, and a small zoo of pets.