What is a Phenotype, and why is it important?

Posted on April 5th, 2023 to Education by

We all may have heard the word “phenotype,” “pheno,” or “pheno-hunting” being thrown around when talking to our canna-nerd friends. You know the one, the guy who’s always talking about strain lineage, old school genetics, and their friend Paul who somehow has an original Northern Lights plant growing in a tent in his basement. Well, turns out your friend might be onto something. Genetics are one of the most important factors when growing cannabis, and therefore, when consuming cannabis.

So let’s get into it: the word phenotype refers to the physical and behavioral characteristics of an organism that result from the interaction between its genes and the environment. In simple terms, it is what you can see and observe about an organism. This response to their environment is why some cannabis strains grow tall and lanky, with long stalks and nodes far apart from one another, whereas other strains may grow more like short stubby little bushes, with a hearty structure and dense node growth. Or why some strains have a rapid 7 week flowering time, where others may push well into 14 weeks to reach maturity. While both of these plants are cannabis, their genetic expressions have been shaped by the necessities of their environment – be it warm and humid, temperate and dry, equatorial with long growing seasons, or closer to the poles with short unforgiving seasons. The global nature of cannabis has created a vast variety within the species, a variety which us humans have discovered we can manipulate and shape to our liking.

Enter: the modern cannabis market. As cannabis becomes more widely accepted and markets continue to develop globally, the importance of genetics and phenotypes has only grown. Consumers’ never-ceasing hunt for more potency, better flavors, and a cleaner smoke has created opportunities for breeders to hone in their craft. With a deep understanding of phenotypes, and often years of hands-on experience, breeders have been able to craft more and more desirable strains as time goes on.

While above we mentioned phenotypes in terms of plant growth and structure, much of modern manipulation has to do with the buds themselves. Breeders may find a strain that they know grows vigorously and produces high yields, and cross-breed it with another strain that has slow growth, but deliciously fragrant buds. The result: a fast growing, resilient plant, with sticky icky buds that look beautiful and tickle the nose when the consumer opens up the bag. This selective breeding process is used to create the best experience for both the grower and the consumer, allowing growers to increase their efficiency and crop yields, while also catering to the ever evolving and insatiable palette of the modern cannabis connoisseur.

Many of the top cannabis brands in the world – most notably “Cookies” – have made their name on being pioneers of cannabis genetics. They’ve crafted strains, through selective breeding and intense phenotype analysis, that have knocked fan favorites off the top spot and have become the backbone of modern cannabis genetics. Ever had a strain with the word “Cookies” in it? You can thank Berner and the Cookies fam for that irresistible flavor. So next time you spark up and puff out an extra tasty cloud of smoke, give a nod to all the breeders and growers who have spent years of their lives pheno-hunting and searching for all the flavors that get you right.

Happy tokes!

Copyright © 2024 Cirrus Glass |

Site by CannaPlanners

Are you over 21 years of age?

You are not old enough to view this website.

Shopping cart0
There are no products in the cart!
Continue shopping