The hemp plant has been grown around the world for thousands of years. The plant’s origins are in Central Asia, and the first records of growing hemp are from China as early as 2800 BC.
Hemp was initially grown for its fibers and cultivated in the Mediterranean countries in the early Christian period. Traders then brought the plant to the rest of Europe in the middle ages.
Does hemp grow naturally to this day? Or can we only find hemp that humans cultivate? What are the properties of hemp, and how is it different from marijuana?
This guide will help you understand the uses of hemp, where it grows, and how it thrives in nature.
What Is the Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana?
You may wonder what the difference between the hemp plant and the marijuana (or cannabis) plant is. Even though they are both from the same species, the levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol)in each plant are different.
What is THC? It is the chemical responsible for the psychoactive properties of marijuana. A hemp plant is a marijuana plant with a tiny amount of THC in it, usually less than 0.3%. Hemp, therefore, is not used for any psychoactive properties. A cannabis plant has much higher levels of THC than a hemp plant.
CBD (Cannabidiol) accounts for about 40% of the plants’ extracts. Both hemp and marijuana plants can have CBD extracted from them. CBD is nonpsychoactive, and people use it to reduce pain and nausea. Hemp plants usually have a higher concentration of CBD than cannabis plants.
What Are Hemp’s Uses?
The hemp plant has unlimited uses. Traditionally hemp is used for making material. To make a fiber, the process involves drying and crushing the plant’s stems. This process releases a woody fiber from the plant.
The material is challenging to dye, so it usually stays the natural yellow, brown color. The fiber created by the plant can be turned into cloth, ropes, fishing nets, paper, and oil.
Hemp oil is also useful for creating and producing recyclable bioplastics. Plastics made from hemp are an excellent alternative to plastics such as PVC that are difficult to recycle. The production of paints, moisturizers, and cooking oil all use hemp oil too.
The seeds from the hemp plants are high in protein and eaten by people who want complete protein sources. Milk and oils can also be made from crushing the seeds of the hemp plant.
Where Can Hemp Grow?
The hemp plant can grow just about anywhere; it just needs the right conditions. Many types of marijuana plants grown for human consumption are modified to enhance the desired properties.
However, natural hemp can grow in many different regions all around the world. Some types of hemp grow in dry areas, some in tropical regions. The plants adapt very quickly to their environment.
There are nearly 200 different hemp strains, so as you can imagine, they all need varied conditions to thrive. As a general rule, though, if the temperatures are not too hot or too cold and the soil is fertile, hemp can thrive.
Here are some of the regions you can find hemp and marijuana plants growing in the wild:
The Middle East
The cannabis origin is thought to be in the Middle East, and the plant can still be found proliferating there to this day.
Despite dry and windy conditions, hemp plants can survive in countries such as Afghanistan. The wind helps to spread the seeds of the plants even further afield. The fertile soil of Afghanistan also makes it easy for the plant to grow.
For this reason, Afghanistan is historically one of the largest cannabis growers in the world.
Northern India and the Himalayan mountains are renowned for having wild (or feral as it is more commonly known) hemp plants growing. Although the plant is not legal in these regions, it is indigenous to the areas.
Growing marijuana and the cultivation of hemp and cannabis plants can be traced back to India’s ancient Vedic texts. These texts, which mean ‘knowledge,’ are approximately ten centuries old.
The use of cannabis has been part of Hindu rituals and religious ceremonies for centuries. The hemp plant grows wild in remote parts of northern India and Nepal. The conditions for it to grow are excellent, and the plant indigenous to this area is very resilient and able to adapt to the changing seasons.
If you visit the Himalayan mountains, you can even take a tour to see the wild-growing hemp and cannabis plants.
In North America, natural growing hemp is found all over the country. It is nicknamed ‘ditch weed.’
The plant is not native to North America. Humans brought the plants and seeds during the continent’s conquering and industrialization. The plants found in North America are most likely going from seeds that have escaped from industrial hemp farms.
Most of the USA’s southern states have ditch weed growing in abandoned and overgrown places. In Canada, the harsh winters make it difficult for wild hemp plants to survive.
The hemp plants that grow wild are definitely hemp, not cannabis, as they contain low THC levels. If you want more information about legitimate hemp farming in the USA, check out this Oregon hemp handler.
Wild Hemp Plants
Hemp has a long and exciting history, used by humans for thousands and thousands of years. As you have discovered, hemp and cannabis plants are growing wild all over the world. However, there is little information on the different strains and species found in the wild.
You shouldn’t pick wild plants, especially if you don’t have the proper knowledge about the plants’ properties.
If you are a business that requires hemp oils or seeds for your products, you should always work with professional and legal hemp growers. This way, you will get quality products, combined with expert advice.
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