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What Do Kratom Names Mean?

Businesses label different types of goods that have slight differences — they might not even be noticeable — using marketing-friendly names that build brand identity and are conducive to experiencing relatively high sales figures.

Kratom vendors do the same thing.

As kratom consumers, we’ve all likely heard of varieties such as Green Maeng Da, Yellow, Red Thai, White Riau, and more.

The first words refer to the supposed color of the central vein that runs down all kratom leaves. Their latter counterparts are said to represent where these leaves were harvested.

But what, exactly, do the various names of different kratom varieties mean?

What Is a Strain?

Strains are cultivars of plants that possess slightly different characteristics from one another. Watermelons, for example, are often found in varieties such as Sugar Babies, Black Diamonds, and Charleston Grays.

Corn, soybeans, and apples often come in different strains. The same is true for cannabis. I’d think that most people associate “strains” with cannabis plants. However, strains aren’t just a cannabis thing — they apply to all plants.

Cannabis is a flowering plant that matures in anywhere from two to six or more months from the time they sprouted. The more quickly a plant matures, the easier it is to develop your own strains or cultivars of plants. For example, if a plant matured in three weeks, an agricultural scientist could manage to 17 cycles of crossing the genes of male and female plants who have favorable characteristics.

Trees take a long time to mature. Kratom trees take at least five years, as far as I know — feel free to correct me if you know better than me! — to even start to mature. Although five years of growth isn’t long enough to begin seeing wanted characteristics in kratom trees, let’s assume that five years of maturing is all you need to effectively cross-pollinate two varieties of kratom.

Given that kratom has been popular in the United States for 20 years — tops — and assuming that there’s at least one American kratommite who has imported one or more kratom trees from Southeast Asia and planted them domestically, the maximum number of genetic crosses that could have taken place is just four! That’s not long enough for the ideal breeding of new plants through cross-pollination.

Kratom’s First Name

Just like people, kratom varieties are typically given two-word names to describe them. Kratom’s first name is usually a color — almost always green, red, white, yellow, or brown — though it may sometimes take the form of non-color words like “Horned Maeng Da” or “Plantation Maeng Da,” for example. Generally, these are the only two exceptions to the color rule related to kratom’s first-name naming convention.

Last Name

Kratom surnames aren’t always geographical locations, such as “Maeng Da,” for example. Most often, however, last names typically take the form of geographic locations within Indonesia. To a lesser extent, some kratom varieties’ surnames take the form of other countries or locales throughout Southeast Asia (e.g., Green Vietnam).

If Strain Names Aren’t Representative, Then What Do They Mean?

Kratom varieties’ names should not be taken literally. Vendors maintain catalogs of various blends of kratom; their names don’t matter. The purpose of using names like “Red Vietnam” or “Yellow Riau” is to make make consumers feel confident about such varieties being legitimate. “Strain” names are largely employed as marketing strategies.

They also serve as a way to tell the difference between the various blends that vendors prepare, mix, and market — the names “A, B, C, D,” and “E” could also all serve this same purpose. Just think, which one would you rather buy — product “A” or “Red Vietnam”?

Are Varieties of the Same Name Among Two or More Vendors the Same?

Many modern kratom consumers here in the United States believe that Vendor A’s Red Vietnam is equal to Vendor B’s Red Vietnam and Vendor C’s Red Vietnam in terms of effects, contents, how they were prepared, and where these batches’ leaves were sourced from.

There’s no consistency throughout kratom vendors regarding what they include in their recipes. If there is some consistency, it’s pure coincidence.

Don’t get caught up in the names of kratom varieties. I recommend purchasing sampler packs of multiple varieties from new vendors. Take note of which ones are your favorite, if you can even tell a difference between them, that is.

Then, once you’ve found a strain you like from a certain vendor, the contents and effects of that strain will likely hold true over time with that particular vendor. This convention is true for most kratom vendors — at least those that are worth their salt.

Check This Idea Out

Assume that a large or mid-sized kratom harvester, processor, and vendor in Indonesia makes most of its money from engaging in B2B — business-to-business — sales, selling already-mixed, prepackaged, already-named batches of kratom to entrepreneurs who plan on reselling it to end-users themselves.

That vendor blends its kratom varieties following strict recipes before selling them to resellers

Most resellers won’t bother rebranding or reblending kratom sold in this capacity. While some domestic American kratom resellers do blend already-blended kratom themselves, consider this an exception to the rule.

By Daniel Garrett

I'm a self-employed writer, long-term drug user, and resident of rural Tennessee. Find me on Twitter at @DanielGarrettHR or email me at danpgarr@ut.utm.edu.

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