What is skunk? Unfortunately for some smokers ‘skunk’ has simply become another generic word for cannabis, but true Skunk is a quite independent strain with its origins dating back to the 1970’s. Skunk remains a top quality strain that offers an excellent ‘high’ with good yields, it is also a forgiving strain which can grow well under a range of conditions indoors, outdoors and in greenhouses. Even today, the combination of qualities which made Skunk famous are still used as a benchmark against which other strains are measured.
In some countries, such as the UK, the term ‘skunk’ no longer necessarily refers to a specific strain but is a general term which refers to good quality marijuana of perhaps unknown genetic origin. Young people in several countries are increasingly calling their home-grown ganja ‘skunk’. Not only is the generalisation ‘Skunk’ inaccurate, it also undermines the true genetic identity of the weed.
In order to preserve the true Skunk heritage Dutch Passion have trademarked their original Skunk #1 name. The other ‘quality’ seedbanks are also quite clear which of their strains have true skunk lineage. The remaining seed suppliers may be supplying reasonable quality strains that use the ‘skunk’ name but this does not necessarily mean that the strains still resemble the original skunk.
Back in the mid 1980’s David Watson, aka Sam The Skunkman, landed at Amsterdam airport with some seeds from his breeding work in California. At the time Sam was reported to be on the run from the US authorities following a bust in California for growing. Fortunately for the home growing community, Sam didn’t leave the USA empty handed. He had brought cannabis seeds from some of his best breeding work with him to Amsterdam. In the mid-1980’s, the small community of breeders in the Amsterdam cannabis scene knew each other. Seeds/cuttings were often traded and used in efforts to create new and improved varieties. New genetics were warmly received by the early pioneers in the Dutch cannabis seed industry, including Dutch Passion who became the first company to offer feminized skunk seeds in the late 1990’s. Sam The Skunkman had worked with Sacred Seeds in Santa Cruz, California during the 1970’s. The warm southern California climate was perfect for cannabis growing and the team produced some excellent results. Skunk is generally thought to be a hybrid between two Sativa varieties, Colombian Gold and Acapulco Gold. An Afghani Indica is also thought to be included in the genetic mix. Skunk was, and still is, recognised for growing with great consistency and stability. Some growers won’t grow anything else.
When the Dutch growers saw Skunk they instantly loved the combination of heavy yields, sticky buds and a powerfully pleasurable high. What’s more Skunk seeds were easy to grow under a wide variety of conditions. The unmistakable rich skunk aroma appealed to everyone. Soon Skunk was the talk of the coffeeshops and a legend was born. Tourists would return home from the coffeeshops with fond memories of the Skunk which they enjoyed in Amsterdam. The attractive features of Skunk made it popular with cannabis breeders. Within a year or two of Sam The Skunkman arriving in Amsterdam there had been numerous phenotype selections, crosses and hybrids. Skunk had most definitely arrived. Skunk was a popular variety in it’s own right, but it was also one of the main varieties used for hydribisation projects over subsequent years. The heavy yields, consistent growth and naturally high THC levels made the genetics a natural choice for breeders to work with. Feminized skunk seeds always seem to deliver top quality buds with a great feel good high.
The Acapulco Gold and Colombian Gold strains were top quality sensimillas of their day and even today they would still be highly appreciated though are difficult to find in their original form. These strains were popular with breeders in the 60’s and 70’s and old timers will remember them for their great unbeatable ‘highs’. Incidentally, it is quite ridiculous that some of the modern anti-cannabis prejudice is based on the so called ‘fact’ that todays dope is very strong whilst that grown 30 or 40 years ago was comparatively weak. That is simply not true, ask anyone that can remember how good the weed was back in the 1960’s. Acapulco Gold even manages to get several mentions in songs from bands such as Rush, Soda Stereo, The New Riders and more recently the rapper MF Doom. Colombian Gold was a similarly iconic and highly potent strain.
People have been enjoying good quality weed (10%+ THC levels) for thousands of years. Strong weed is not just a modern phenomena, there has always been strong weed. But unfortunately the anti-cannabis crusaders like to have a ‘key’ argument to maintain the illegality of the worlds favourite herb. 20 years ago they claimed cannabis should be illegal since it is a sinister ‘gateway drug’ that leads invariably to heroin. That argument was of course debunked as utter nonsense, so it has now been replaced with a new argument.... “modern weed should not be smoked since it is several times more potent than that used by the hippies in the 1970’s”.
Again, the argument is false and like so much anti-cannabis rhetoric the arguments are based on hype and prejudice rather than logic and fact. No wonder the cannabis community are doing their best to replace bigoted intolerance with science-based fact. Remember too that cannabis has been used medically and recreationally for thousands of years without killing anyone. It has only been illegal for the last century and during that time its popularity has, ironically, boomed like never before and is showing no signs of diminishing. If cannabis was made illegal to limit its use then the strategy has backfired in spectacular style and the approach needs a radical overhaul. In the 21st century cannabis is used safely and responsibly by more people than ever before, all the anti-cannabis laws are doing at the moment is criminalising large sections of society.
But back to the original question, what is skunk? We use the words ‘painstaking and careful’ to describe the creation of skunk since this strain was developed to preserve potency whilst retaining a desirably low ratio of leaves to buds. This allowed the strain to deliver excellent yields with long, thick bud growth. The low leaf ratio makes this an easy strain to manicure after harvest. Some of the lesser so called ‘skunk’ strains are easily identifiable by the compromises made during breeding which deliver reduced yields.
Skunk#1 was stabilised as a true breeding variety in the 70’s and has been inbred by Dutch Passion since 1978 making it one of the most consistent and predictable strains available today. The dense and luxuriously thick buds may be susceptible to mold in the last stages of flowering simply because of the sheer quantity of the buds produced. The buds themselves may vary in colour from green to a beautiful gold appearance. Despite the very obvious and characteristically strong smell the Skunk buds also possess an alluring sweet and soft scent, try running your fingers through a mature Skunk #1 female and smell the wonderful aroma it imparts. The ‘high’ is of course quite excellent and it set the world alight in the 70’s when skunk was the strain that everyone wanted to talk about and grow for themselves. Even today many feel the Skunk high is quite unbeatable. For Dutch Passion the Skunk strains sell massive quantities of seeds and this allows the seeds themselves to be mass produced at very affordable prices.
Of course, genetics of the quality possessed by Skunk#1 are popular with breeders/seed producers and Skunk has been extensively used for cross breeding. When Dutch Passion themselves have produced other Skunk varieties they have been very cautious to only use the ‘Skunk’ name when the master breeders have produced a variety which is absolutely ‘true’ to the skunk heritage. In Dutch Passions case, Skunk #11 is one example of a strain which justifiably bares the ‘Skunk’ name. Skunk #11 was the first Dutch Passion strain to sell a million seeds and remains an undisputed classic. Ultra Skunk, Skunk Passion and Orange Bud are other examples of top quality members of the Dutch Passion Skunk family.
So Skunk is not just a general term that should be used as a blanket description for all weed, it should remain a term used only for a very specific strain or family. But remember also that many of the so called ‘skunk’ varieties available today often bear very little resemblance to the true genetic heritage of this cannabis classic. If you want to try growing some original Skunk we strongly recommend that you opt for a strain from one of the proven and longest established seedbanks that can trace their skunk breeding right back to the original lines.