Dark Heart Nursery is excited to release a one-of-a-kind variety to the cultivation community: Freakshow! Freakshow has the strangest leaf shape you’ve ever seen on a cannabis plant. It has bizarre yet beautiful leaves that are crinkled and fern-like. Though Freakshow is sometimes mistaken for a fern or marigold plant, it’s definitely cannabis!
Freakshow was created by a breeder known as Shapeshifter. Shapeshifter is a long-time grower who’s grown out many, many varieties of cannabis. So when a couple freaky little seedlings with mutant leaves popped up in one batch, he was curious and grew them out. The result? He fell in love with it, and decided to start crossing them…leading to Freakshow! Not only are the leaves visually stunning and a joy to grow, but the finished flower is special too, with a positive, uplifting, and cerebral effect.
So what gives Freakshow it’s distinctive leaf shape? Freakshow gets its leaves due to a genetic mutation that causes the leaves to form differently than normal cannabis leaves. As Dark Heart plant breeder and geneticist Dr. Kay Watt explains, “Most cannabis plants have a simple palmate leaf shape, where the leaf looks like the palm and fingers of a hand. Freakshow is different and has many smaller leaflets running along the vein of each ‘finger.'”
This mutation is not specific to cannabis either. “This mutant morphology has been documented in other plants too–where a normal leaf can become like a fern. It’s unknown what kind of mutation gives Freakshow it’s unique appearance because there are so many different genes that contribute to leaf shape,” says Watt. The image below shows mutations found in tomato plants. WT is the common “Wild Tomato” leaf shape.
Shapeshifter backcrossed his mutant plants for several generations, selecting for the mutation each time. Once he achieved some stability in the line, The Humboldt Seed Company did a large-scale seed increase of the genetics. Dark Heart’s Freakshow cut is a selected pheno from a seed hunt. The winning pheno was vigorous during veg, and pulled ahead of the others during flower. It fans out while stretching which allows ample light to bud sites. By the end of the flower period, the winner had funky citrus terps and appeared to be the highest yielder. Lab testing shows this pheno has on average around 21% active cannabinoids and 18.6% THC.
Freakshow’s flower aroma carries diesel and grapefruit notes, with hints of thyme and eucalyptus. It has a mild banana and vanilla taste that’s sweet on the palette. The effect is a clear sativa boost with a mild headband sensation and a tingly body high. Freakshow’s uplifting effect makes it a perfect daytime smoke.