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A Practical and Natural Taxonomy for Cannabis

Ernest Small and Arthur Cronquist
Taxon
Vol. 25, No. 4 (Aug., 1976), pp. 405-435
DOI: 10.2307/1220524
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1220524
Page Count: 31
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A Practical and Natural Taxonomy for Cannabis
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Abstract

Variation in Cannabis is evaluated in the context of the confusing systematic history of this genus. Aside from some experimentally produced polyploids, all Cannabis is diploid (n = 10), and there appear to be no barriers to successful hybridization within the genus. The present pattern of variation is due in large part to the influence of man. Two widespread classes of plant are discernible: a group of generally northern plants of relatively limited intoxicant potential, influenced particularly by selection for fibre and oil agronomic qualities, and a group of generally southern plants of considerable intoxicant potential, influenced particularly by selection for inebriant qualities. These two groups are treated respectively as subsp. sativa and indica, of C. sativa, the only species of the genus Cannabis. Within each subspecies two parallel phases are recognizable. The "wild" (weedy, naturalized or indigenous) phase is more or less distinguishable from the domesticated (cultivated or spontaneous) phase by means of an adaptive syndrome of fruit characteristics. The resulting four discernible groups are recognized as varieties.

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