Cannabis Used to Grow Wild in Europe but Went Extinct Before First Farmers Arrived, Research Finds

Article by Tom Barnes, The Independent

NewsScience Cannabis used to grow wild in Europe but went extinct before first farmers arrived, research finds Scientists now believe plant was commonplace on continent in prehistoric period Tom Barnes. Cannabis is likely to have once grown wild across Europe Reuters

The growth of wild cannabis was rife in Europe during the Stone Age, but the plant disappeared from the continent before the first farmers had a chance to cultivate it, according to new research.

Scientists have previously struggled to determine where the plant grew, as its similarity to the related common hop meant usual methods of studying pollen fossils had proved difficult.

However, a group of researchers from the University of Vermont led by John McPartland now believe they may have solved the mystery, by examining what else was growing in the area.

In a study published in the Vegetation History and Archaeobotany, the team concluded that if other ancient pollen collected from a location were from plants common on grassy steppes, the sample is likely to be cannabis.

If other fossils suggest the area was woodland, it can be assumed the plant was a hop, the research states.

The new theory led the team to re-examine samples of Stone Age fossil pollen from more than 470 sites across Europe, concluding cannabis was present on dry tundra landscapes during the period.

Read the full article here.

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