curaleaf staff member looking at cannabis flower

When exploring the wide world of cannabis strains, there are many camps. You’ve got your classic oldie but goodies, with long-standing reputations. You’ve got your hot new buzz-worthy crosses. You’ve got melty indicas, and electric sativas. You’ve got easy-to-love favorites, and hard-to-find obscurities. You can look for strains with certain terpene profiles, or you can focus on certain cannabinoid ratios. So many considerations; so many enticements!

When you walk into the dispensary, do you head straight for your stand-by? Or, do you browse around and consider trying something new? Most cannabis consumers do a little of both. “Like a kid in a candy store,” is probably the most common analogy for what it’s like to shop for cannabis at the counter.

A shared first impression

Despite all their potential differences, there’s one thing that all cannabis strains have in common: a name. Often, the name is your very first impression of a particular strain. If you’ve ever found yourself thumbing through a book of baby name meanings or played around with one of those online name generators, then you know it’s true: names are intriguing!

So, how do cannabis strains get their names? Turns out, there are several ways.


Strains that contain the words “Haze” or “Kush” are nods to the plant’s family tree. Kush is of the Cannabis Indica family, whereas Haze belongs to the Cannabis Sativa branch. And, just as with your own relatives, you can trace a plant’s family tree back to a particular part of the world. Kush strains originated in the Hindu Kush mountain range in Afghanistan, while Haze has roots in Northern California. Often, you’ll run across strains that end with the acronym “OG.” Most will say this stands for O.cean G.rown, but there have been a few debates that suggest the actual meaning is O.riginal G.angster.


When we breathe in, a series of rapid chemical processes take place in our nose, sending impulses to our brain. “Ding! Ding! Ding!” These effects we experience are largely in part due to terpenes: the various aromatic oils found in cannabis strains. Different strains boast different terpenes, and each of those terpenes can trigger a certain set of impulses. This is where understanding names—and what they can indicate—comes in quite handy.

Lots of strain names contain fruit references that relate to flavor profiles (Grape Dawg, Pineapple Express, Strawberry Cough...), as well as descriptive words like “diesel.” Sour Diesel and Blue Diesel, for example, tend to emit fruity, gasoline like scents that provide a more focused energy.

As you learned above, “Kush” family strains come from particular part of the world. In addition to sharing geographic roots, they also tend to share the same earthy and botanical scents, known for their relaxing and sedating qualities.

Once you know which impulses—and therefore which aromas—you desire, some strain names can certainly help guide you through your cannabis shopping experience. Others, however, aren’t quite so medicinally telling....


Blissful Wizard, Dark Side of the Moon, Dirty Little Secret… all of these varieties were clearly dubbed out a love for fantasy, music, and comedy, respectively. Just like with wine, some people get a kick out of the naming process. These silly names are a bit irresistible, and are sure to induce a smile, at the very least.


cannabis strain

Skunk Hero, grown at Curaleaf in Mount Dora, FL

Celebrity Influence

While some stigma remains with cannabis culture, famous celebrities have made their way into the spotlight to shed a bit of light on pro-cannabis support. Tommy Chong, who remains to be an activist for the cannabis movement, is the inspiration behind the strain “Chong Star”. Then, there’s “Michael Phelps OG,” born once a photo surfaced of the 18-time Olympic gold medal swimmer smoking from a bong. While these strains don’t come with a promise of stardom or gold medals, you’re sure to feel “some type of way” as you inhale.

And, it’s quite a claim-to-fame to have a strain named after you, don’t you think?

Cross breeding

Growers love experimenting with cross breeding, and at Curaleaf, there’s no exception! Take a look at how the two “parent” names in each of our Curaleaf New Jersey crosses are reflected in the resulting child.

Kush Mints x Wedding Cake = LA Kush Cake

Platinum Delights x Goliath = Giant Delight

Nitro Cookies x Platinum Candy = Nitro Candy

Grape Pie x Platinum = Grape Marmalade

What’s in a name?

In short, a strain name can serve as a clue, a key, a compass, a good story, or none of the above. As for how memorable the name is, that likely comes down to your experience. We don’t soon forget our favorites!

Be sure to share your favorite strain (name) with us on instagram!