No one would debate that White Widow is an iconic strain. After all, it spawned the entire “white family” of cannabis strains, including Great White Shark and White Rhino, to name just two. Aptly named from the frosty white coating of trichomes that cover its surface, White Widow is worthy of any marijuana enthusiast’s attention. It grows with vigor and rewards its owner with a potent batch of distinctively sweet flowers that are a pleasure to smoke.
Accolades and notable cannabis cup wins aside, White Widow has an interesting and storied history, shrouded in controversy. In fact, it’s relatively safe to say that no other strain has spawned such hard feelings. A public feud emerged between the two men who claim to be its creator, each declaring that his version of the White Widow story is the correct one. This has led to more than one version of White Widow. But which is the original and best?
What most people can agree on is that White Widow was first introduced to the public by Greenhouse Seeds in the mid ’90s and won a cannabis cup competition the following year—which immediately made the strain desirable and sought by cultivators and consumers alike. From there, the stories diverge.
One side of the argument maintains that White Widow is actually a select version of an established strain called Arnhem’s Wonder created by Dutch cannabis breeder Ingemar De Sjamaan nearly a full decade earlier, in the mid ’80s. By the late ’80s, Arnhem’s Wonder earned respect and recognition by winning the High Life Cup. Greenhouse Seeds was next to acquire these genetics. In Seedfinder EU, Arjan Roskam, the founder of Greenhouse, explains the creation of White Widow: “Ingemar (De Sjamaan) invented White Widow already in 1987 … It was called Arnhem’s Wonder and already won the first High Life cup in 1989 … For those who don’t believe this, please call Coffeeshop Catweazle or Roger from the grow shop; they worked with Ingmar for a long time. Roger has always sold the clones he had. He had a famous grow shop in Nijmegen. I bought the male and female among other plants in 1992 and only crossed them in 1994. I did not have to do any breeding on the White Widow at that time because Ingemar had already done it for us. And to this day, you can still buy original clones of the White Widow in that area of Holland.”
This account differs greatly from another member of the Greenhouse Seed team, Australian cannabis cultivator Scott Blakey, who goes by the name Shantibaba. Blakey maintains that he acquired some of the White Widow genetics while traveling in the Keralan region of Southern India. After meeting a farmer there, he sampled some of the man’s indica plants and bought some seeds that he brought back to Amsterdam. Later, he crossed these genetics to a Brazilian sativa, and the result became the White Widow strain. After internal conflict and disagreement at Greenhouse, Shantibaba left and joined Mr. Nice Seeds, where he called his genetics, Black Widow, because Greenhouse owned the White Widow name. Both seed companies maintain that the genetics go back to Southern Indian indica and Brazilian sativa.
Does your head hurt yet? All feuding and drama aside, the strain that is now available as White Widow is a wonderful strain worthy of any cannabis aficionado’s attention. (The cultivation notes below and the accompanying photo(s) are the Greenhouse Seeds version.)
White Widow maintains a consistent medium-height structure that’s quite pleasing to the eye. The sturdy plants do a great job of supporting their own weight when the buds attain a respectable size, so there is no need for adding stakes for support. When smoked, the buzz is best described by what Greenhouse accurately includes on its website: “A relaxing indica feeling that turns into a bursting sativa high. Very complex and enjoyable, fast hit and long-lasting effect.” The ratio of indica-to-sativa is said to be 60% indica and 40% sativa, a very balanced hybrid indeed.
The White Widow aroma and flavor reflect its European roots and palate preference—which sometimes differs from that of Americans (versions of American and Dutch Skunk #1 are a perfect example)—but most Americans should find a lot to enjoy. The sweetness is distinct, mildly citrusy, with subtle notes of marzipan. The phenos that Americans will likely enjoy the most also have subtle skunk and grape notes.
So, there you have it. If you’ve never had a relationship with “The Widow,” hopefully this brief introduction will seduce you into taking the plunge.