North East India, Tropical Highland and Tropical Lowland regions of North-East India located between 0°N- 24°N of the Equator.
Remote location near Manipur-Burma border approximate Lat. N° 25.09, E° 94.36. Approximately 1500 meters above the sea level (5000+ ft.) The Eastern Manipur region, which borders with Burma (Myanmar) has a lush evergreen, sloping terrain. The hills aren’t the same as the ones seen in Himalayan states such as Himachal or Uttrakhand, but rather, smaller and a mix of undulating topography. Larger hills at the periphery and a huge expanse of plain-valleys of alluvial tracts possibly shaped by flooding of the region in the past. This region is inhabited by the Tangkhul tribe, a sub division of the great Naga or (Mao) tribe.
The Mao language is classified as one of the Angami-Pochuri languages which is sub-categorized as an independent dialect, taking it’s origins from the Tibeto-Burman languages, which along with other evidences, paints a gradual migration from Burma (Myanmar) into present day Northeast India. The Battle of Imphal during World war II very rarely, if ever, credits the imperative role of these Naga tribes who helped allied forces by pushing back the Japanese. This is one of the reasons these tribes were granted a special status afterwards (Article 371 A), which allows them to bear arms along with several other rights to protect their territory. Tangkhul is one of 3 main tribes in Manipur out of Meitei (Hindu) Kuki and Tangkhul, who are mostly converted Christians by the missionaries under the British colonial rule. Tangkhul people are the ones doing the mass production around the Ukhrul district that borders with Burma and a few Kuki tribes as well. However, this region is dominated by the Tangkhul tribe while Kuki tribes are more concentrated towards Churachandpur, Sikul and Metei people living mostly in and around the capital Imphal, which also strongly suggests a social and economic status among the tribes.
Manipur in General has a tropical to subtropical climate for most of the year, except the winter months when the rainfall finally takes a break after an avg. 2000+ mm precipitation during the summer and extended monsoons. The climate in Manipur is affected tremendously by the taller mountains surrounding the bordering states like Assam and Nagaland. Even though it doesn’t ever get as hot as North or Central India, the winter temperatures can still fall below 10° C during Dec-Jan, which is quite similar to North Indian states like Punjab featuring a temperate climate. The acute levels of humidity from the heavy rainfall is a huge factor in shaping the vegetation around Manipur. The hills maintain a lush green color all year around with only a very few varieties of trees showing typical fall colors, which are dotted in the middle of a sea of green on the hills. Large banana plantations can be seen thriving on the hill slopes along with endless poppy fields and countless other plant species expressing larger leaf surfaces than normal e.g. Castor Bean.
The tremendous pressure for evermore production of black market cannabis in an overpopulated country is driving these changes from region to region. The price of mass-processed material when taken off the farms is less than $10/Kilo with absolutely no hope of any hike. It leaves no other option for the farmers, but to resort to producing more by planting throughout the year and selling a larger quantity overall to make things work.
The full season crop is sown at the beginning of the summer or in mid to late spring. This particular crop goes through a normal life cycle and begins to flower around August after at least 3 months of vegetative growth. These crops can get big- up to 10-11 ft tall with heavy lateral branching, even without any stress training. Without any interference, the plant, instead of taking a Christmas tree like shape grows considerable side branches that are equally robust and plentiful. The full season crop brings in more weight than the other two types put together, which makes it their prime crop, and they only harvest these plants when they’re fully ripe around the end of January.
The plants boast a beautiful combination of lush green leaves with vibrant purple-blue streaked floral bracts packed together like an architectural masterpiece. We selected a few different variations in terms of structure, but every sample expresses the similar streaks of colors throughout the flowers. The smell is very uniform among the domesticated heirloom population in this region, which closely resembles a complex nose of a caramelized paste of sun-dried berries, such as blueberry and dried date fruit jam. The captivating blue-purple streaks on the floral bracts could be seen as one of the common traits among the domesticated populations, even when grown at various times of the year. The domesticated heirloom expresses long sleeve like colas with chunky bracts covered in resin and vibrant hues that appear in a peculiar way. It yields heavily due to it’s structure that features aggressive lateral growth naturally without any stress training.
A considerable amount of plants have flowers that look similar to this (chunky floral bracts with purple bluish streaks on the seams) within each population. This trait was easy to find and with a sample size as large as we had at our disposal at Manipur it was abundantly clear that this variety has been selected and domesticated over many generations by the Naga tribes like Tangkhul which was later confirmed by the farmers who own the production field. There were a few variations in the arrangement of the flower clusters, but all were unique and beautiful in their own right. Thanks goes to the very easy going folks at the farm who let us document these plants at ease and peace of mind.
The fresh resin from a very unlikely source, like a stick which was being used to beat and flatten the cannabis crops at the farm, yielded a good chunk for sampling the resin. The effects were quite overwhelming in a way that it immediately buckles around the forehead and induces alertness with a heightened sensitivity towards the sounds from the surroundings. The effects last for a considerable duration- easily over an hour and intensifies gradually through the first half creating an overall dreamy surreal high with a prominent massage-like feeling around the forehead. Subjectively, the effects are very immersive and engaging, with the mind often going on thought-trains in many directions.
At the pinnacle of its potential the possibilities seem to be endless in this domesticated Heirloom variety. While the trichome size is smaller compared to many other North Indian varieties, like Kashmiri or varieties from Himachal Pradesh, the high, or the effects on the other hand, are much more intense in comparison to any other variety from Northern India. The flavors are different though; it’s basically on a sweeter tangent, but in a different way the smell resembles dried berries and date fruit paste. The flowering duration is much longer than highland varieties from North India and stretches up to 16+ weeks with a few early plants finishing around 14-15 weeks.