Durban Poison

Durban Poison Qualities and Characteristics

Mental Aid
Depression, Stress, PMS
Physical Aid
Pain relief, Glaucoma, Arthritis, Multiple sclerosis, Appetite stimulant, Seizure, PMS, Headache, Migraines, Nausea, Fibromyalgia, Fatigue
Landrace sativa cultivar
Type of High
Social, Euphoric, Energizing, Uplifting, Creative, Cerebral
Lemon, Licorice, Spicy, Sweet
Lemon, Licorice, Orange, Spicy, Sweet
Side Effects
Dry mouth, Dry eyes, Dizziness

Durban Poison is a well known and much loved pure sativa landrace variety from South Africa. The history of how it came to be introduced into the wider cannabis community is a bit murky. Ed Rosenthal and Sam the Skunkman both seem to be credited with obtaining the original seeds from South Africa and then spending years shortening the long flowering time and generally improving the quality and effects. Durban Poison is known for its unique sweet citrus and licorice flavors and a functional clear-headed and social high that is hard to beat for daytime use. In addition to being a favorite recreational strain, medical users report easing of a long list of symptoms from pain and fatigue to bad mood.

Cannabinoid Profile | Average and Maximum Mass by Plant Weight

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  • Indoor flowering time: 56-70 days
  • Outdoor yield: 600-100- g/plant
  • Harvest time: (Outdoor/Greenhouse) Late September

Nirvana Seeds version: Flowering Period: 8-9 weeks. Harvest Time Outdoor: end of Sept.

African Seeds version: Flowering Period indoor: 8-10 weeks. Flowering Period outdoor: 9-13 weeks (condition dependent). Height: 2-4 m (6-12 ft). Yields: 20-30 oz (600-1000 gr).

Durban was known and loved in Holland because it was one of the few Sativas that could finish outdoors — the short-flowering versions are suitable for Northern climates. Grows very tall outdoors, but most varieties are totally manageable indoors, especially with training such as SCROG. Depends on the version, most floating around or from Dutch companies are between 8 and 10 weeks, while the African seed companies tend to be longer, going as long as 120.

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One of the building blocks of the modern cannabis genetic pool, Durban Poison has been passed through the hands of some of the most influential breeders and researchers of our time, yet remains a super-popular medical variety to this day. Durban Poison's history goes all the way back to the late 1970's in South Africa, where a young Ed Rosenthal was on the hunt for new genetics. The variety that he found was one of the earliest-finishing plants in the area (known for its equatorial Sativas), and he took home a variety of seeds from this locally cultivated genetic pool. Upon starting the seeds at home in the US, there was a fairly wide variety of expressions and flowering times, so Ed began the process of choosing his favorites and inbreeding the line to best bring out those characteristics. Ed passed some seeds from his working of the Durban line to his friend Mel Frank for further work, which focused primarily on shortening the flowering time. Mel worked with several generations of the plants, again and again choosing the most resinous yet quickest plants and crossing them with one another. The resulting line yielded two choice phenotypes, which Mel dubbed the A and B, with the A being his favorite of the two. This is where Sam the Skunkman and Amsterdam come into this saga: Sam was gifted the B line from Mel Frank and took the seeds with him (along with the line that would become the Dutch Skunk #1) to Amsterdam for his first foray into the Holland seed business. Skunkman worked the line even further, again focusing on reducing flowering time so that Durban could finish outdoors in the short Dutch summer, which ended up being the main selling point of the strain in its early days. The seed lines were originally released by The Seed Bank (the precursor to Sensi Seeds) in the 1985 catalog, and from there vaulted to prominence around the world, especially among outdoor growers. Durban has a very unique anise-kissed sweet smell and flavor that perfumes the air when smoked and leaves a sweet aftertaste lingering in the mouth. The buds are round and chunky, and the modern phenotypes that are most common also have a thick coating of short-stalked, big-headed trichomes which cover almost all surfaces. It is a wonderful variety for water hash for that reason - lots of heads and not much trich stem and cystolith hair content makes for top quality full-melt extracts. Durban is legendary for its almost electric effects package, which fills the user with a buzzing energy and a flurry of mental activity. It is the perfect variety for a productive day, as it is strong but tends to stay out of the way of most mental processes, allowing for a high level of functionality. But it would be a drag to spend a Durban-filled day doing nothing but working, as it is the type of effect that makes the user want to go outside and enjoy themselves. It increases sociability and is a perfect companion to a long conversation, a hike, or even a solo session with something like a good book or video game. Most users find themselves pacing or standing up and sitting down repeatedly because it comes with such a high dose of energy. Few strains in cannabis history have the amount of work and history behind them as the Durban Poison, and it shows in its enduring qualities. Patients who seek a true Sativa experience continue to ask for the Durban all around the country. In Colorado, it has been and remains one of the most-requested varieties on dispensary shelves, making it a nearly indispensable part of a shop's strain repertoire. For growers, its easy and fast-flowering nature combined with its above-average production and resin content levels make it a no-brainer choice to have in the garden. It has also shown great potential for crossing with other varieties, making its way into a variety of award-winning hybrids around the globe. -by Ry Prichard

According to Sam the Skunkman: South African Durban Poison was first introduced by me. I got maybe 100 seeds from South Africa and grew them in California in the late 70's. Most were hermaphrodite, small calyxs, as well as not so great buds. But I saw the potential for an early Sativa so I worked with it for a few years to clean it up. I finally eliminated most of all the bad traits, and introduced it in the early 80's. When I took it to Amsterdam it was an immediate hit, one of the few Sativa strains that can be grown outdoors in Holland most years if the weather is OK at harvest time. Every seed merchant in Holland bought some and made copies as well as Hybrids, All of the Durban Poison genetics being passed around were originally from my work until Afro-Seeds popped up a few years ago. My Durban Poison is Sativa, pure IBL Landrace created from seed lines, maintained with clones, Male and Female. There is no change in the genepool now as any seeds are produced from selected clones 20 years old. The plants had a strong licorice/anise smell and taste, as well as being quite early in maturation. The strength was med-strong, vigor strong, yield quite good, very consistent. To be honest I considered it a daytime smoke. I have heard that Afro-Seeds made or collected their Durban Poison seeds from fresh seeds every year, they did not use clones to make them, and that is fraught with problems. You can maybe select a good female seed parent by looking at and smoking the results, but what about the Male pollen parent? How do you know a new male from seed is good enough to use as a pollen parent? Or the best male to use as a parent? The only way I know is to make a clone of the male's to be tested and make crosses with the best selected females (clones), then grow out the different batches and see what males & females give the best results. If you are not doing this then the male you use could be great or a lousy male with no ability to help produce plants that are great. One thing is for sure the seeds you got years ago will not be the same as what you get today, as both the females and males used to make seeds are not the same each year. The Flying Dutchman, or Seedsman in the UK might have my SADP, but I am not sure as they may make their own to sell also. Because the variety is true breeding it is easy to make copies.

Additional Information

A landrace Sativa variety from South Africa, Durban Poison is known for its spicy/sweet anise-like smell and taste and it’s clear-headed cerebral effect. Though it’s a (normally) pure Sativa, most versions finish fairly quickly and don’t stretch like crazy. Many claim the real South African Durban Poison is very racy and finishes as long as 120 days, but that’s not the case for the versions available in seed form (Afropips and African Seeds seems to be the longest to finish). Durban is a fabulous daytime strain, with a clear, functional effects package that stimulates creativity, sociability, and overall mood. It’s very energetic and is seen as one of the more pure-feeling Sativa varieties widely available on the market. The true South African Durbans are known for being extremely racy and borderline psychedelic, but the toned-down Dutch versions that circulate the United States and Europe lose some of that edge, perhaps for the benefit of the average consumer. The primary medicinal benefits are energy, appetite stimulation, migraine relief, and anti-nausea properties.

This subtropical sativa is named after the South African port city of Durban where thousands of kilos of this dark, distinctive sativa are produced every year. Smokers everywhere know it to be a sativa like no other.