Kush is a common term in the cannabis community, sometimes referring to the specific Hindu Kush variety, other times to just colloquially refer to weed itself. Kush is not a general term for marijuana, though. The term is used for plants with origins in the Hindu Kush mountains, a 500-mile range that extends from central Afghanistan to northern Pakistan.

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Landrace Origins: Hindu Kush

Landrace strains are locally adapted over time and able to evolve and withstand certain insects, disease, lack of water, and other conditions. They occur naturally, are not crossbred with any other variety, and are considered the original source of the plant. 

Plants from their original environments have the advantage of good genetics. They develop to be resilient and adaptive, making them superior to their human-cultivated counterparts. Landrace varieties are important for many of the hybrid strains cannabis users have grown to love, such as OG Kush.

The landrace variety of the strain is Hindu Kush, a purebred indica with strong sedative effects and a sweet, musky scent. With its strong genetics and natural resilience, Hindu Kush is also a common choice for crossbreeding plants to stabilize for growth in more harsh climates. When cultivators mix the strong genetic capabilities of the landrace strain with plants of other characteristics, they create a strain designed to thrive in the conditions the plant is being grown in.

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Pure Hindu Kush is more difficult to come by today than the large supply of hybrid strains available. If you ask your budtender for a Kush variety, you will most likely end up with many hybrid options to choose.

OG Kush OG Kush strain (iStock / HighGradeRoots)

Features of Kush strains

With so many hybrid strains available, the features of your Kush will depend on the specific variety you are consuming. Most strains will exhibit a combination of the classic features, sometimes creating a more energizing or therapeutic effect depending on what it is paired with.

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Taste and smell:

Kush smells and tastes earthy and sweet, with hints of citrus and pine. It provides a distinctly smooth hit when smoked or vaporized, and maintains an earthy scent.


Strains feature deep, dark greens with bright orange or rust-colored hairs. Large amounts of trichomes cover the buds and make Kush a popular choice for making hashish. Buds tend to be thick and dense, and the leaves sometimes exhibit a purple tone. The plants are usually stocky and short.


Kush varieties are known for their strong sedative effects. It’s probably best to save it for an evening in with no plans. It’s great for producing feelings of relaxation and euphoria, as well as couch-lock. It is also known for its thought-provoking effects, making it a good variety for introspection. Kush could be of use if you’re looking to get into a meditative state.

Popular Kush Strains

OG Kush:

This most well-known and loved strain is undoubtedly OG Kush. It typically falls between 20 and 25-percent THC, making it a highly potent variety. While OG Kush is an indica-dominant strain, it is still known to be mildly energizing and provide more of a head high rather than a body one. It can be grown indoors and outdoors in the right conditions.

Sour Kush:

This is a cross between OG Kush and the sativa strain, Sour Diesel. It is indica-dominant and produces feelings of elevated mood and relaxation. Sour Kush is potent, with a strong odor and long-lasting effects. The THC content usually ranges between 20 and 22 percent.

Master Kush:

This is an award-winning strain with blissful effects that do not overwhelm the user. Master Kush is often used for stress relief and anxiety and is known to invoke curiosity. It is also a popular choice for managing chronic pain or stimulating an appetite. This strain averages at 16% THC and is best grown indoors.

Purple Kush:

Originating from Oakland, California, Purple Kush is a popular strain that is 100-percent indica. It is a combination of Hindu Kush and Afghani strains. Its potency ranges between 17 and 27-percent THC. It has a sweet, fruity taste with earthy tones and produces a calming head high that becomes fully physical. It is a powerful sedative, and also a popular choice for pain management.

Critical Kush:

This indica-dominant strain offers a relaxing full-body high. Critical Kush is a combination of Critical Mass and OG Kush. It has deep, earthy odors with very little hints of citrus or sweet tones. It is a good strain for an evening in, as it creeps up on you and will have your whole body feeling relaxed and comfortable. These same reasons make it a great choice for relief from chronic pain and nausea. Despite its potency (ranging between 16 and 29-percent THC), Critical Kush is not known to cause paranoid thinking and is a good choice for anyone prone to anxiety from marijuana.