It’s long been known that cannabis plants are indigenous to Central Asia, but a new study provides a fresh focus on where exactly this genus may have first evolved millions of years ago.f years ago.
Documents dating back to the middle ages show humans have been hypothesising about the geographical origins of cannabis for over a thousand years now, with the famed Arab polymath Ibn Wahshiyya suggesting India or perhaps China as far back as 930 CE.
But the rarity of print fossils (impressions of leaves made on other objects) in the historical record has made it difficult for the research community to identify anything more specific than Central Asia, even with the booming popularity of cannabis currently ongoing in many fields of academic and scientific enquiry.
“Despite a voluminous literature emerging in the last three decades, the classification of cannabis and its centre of origin remains under debate,” a team led by first author and medical researcher John McPartland from the University of Vermont explains in a new paper.
To overcome the lack of print fossils, scientists turned to pollen from plants of the Cannabis genus; these pollens were first studied since the 1930s to help trace out the plant’s long history.