In the realm of cannabis biology and science, particularly within the area of breeding, the term “recessive” refers to a type of gene that does not express itself as a dominant trait in the physical appearance or biochemical makeup of a cannabis plant. To manifest in the phenotype—the set of observable characteristics of an individual plant—a recessive gene must be inherited from both parents, meaning it is present in two copies (homozygous).

For example, certain cannabinoid or terpene profiles in cannabis plants can be the result of recessive genes.

The Impact of Recessive Genes

The impact of recessive genes is critical in understanding cannabis breeding and cultivar development. When breeders aim to isolate or enhance specific traits, such as disease resistance, growth patterns, or psychoactive properties, they must consider the inheritance patterns of these genetic traits.

Since recessive genes can be masked by dominant ones, they often require strategic breeding practices to ensure that these traits are preserved and can be consistently expressed in subsequent generations. Breeders might employ techniques such as backcrossing or test crossing to determine if a desired trait is recessive and to stabilize the trait within the breeding line.

Diversity and Cultivation

The acknowledgment and application of knowledge regarding recessive genes enable cannabis breeders to create diverse strains with a wide array of desirable traits. This genetic understanding is also essential for growers selecting strains suitable for their cultivation conditions.

It’s important for consumers to have a basic grasp of these concepts, as they directly influence the variety of cannabis products available, catering to different preferences and medicinal needs.


In summary, recessive genes, although not always visible in the first generation, play a fundamental role in cannabis diversity and the fine-tuning of strains for optimal characteristics and performance.