Strains & products

Counting Down the Top 5 Trending Cannabis Strains of 2018

Published on January 7, 2019 · Last updated July 28, 2020
(Julia Sumpter/Leafly)

This past year was a great year for cannabis. The popular strains and flavors that proliferated over the last 12 months offer such a variety that you can’t help but want to try them all. That is, if you haven’t already!

Looking at engagement data across Leafly, we’re able to see how interested people are in each strain, as well as where they’re shopping for these strains. Consumers who leave thoughtful reviews of strains and products also help paint a picture of which strains have been frequently purchased and enjoyed.

From pungent, gassy flavors to sweet, fruity blends, the top trending strains of 2018 offer a wide spectrum of tantalizing tastes and exciting experiences. The list below showcases strains that saw the largest growth in interest and popularity throughout the cannabis community in 2018.

(This doesn’t necessarily make them the best strains. In fact, the trendiest strains are often some of the more polarizing varieties. However, their prominence simply cannot be ignored!)

The Top 5 Trending Strains of the Year

5. Grease Monkey

(Julia Sumpter/Leafly)

Kicking off the countdown is Grease Monkey, a strain whose engagement grew nearly 270% over the course of 2018. Bred by Exotic Genetix, Grease Monkey is a cross of Original Glue with their prized Cookies and Cream. The result is a hybrid with a potent punch that makes incredible hash.

The sharp diesel flavors of Grease Monkey showcase its Original Glue lineage, but these are softened by an earthy influence and sweet finish from its Cookies and Cream heritage. The thick, soothing smoke brings an initial blast of euphoria that boosts the mood as it settles throughout the body and leaves you in a dreamy, relaxed state.

This popular hybrid originally sprouted in the Pacific Northwest where it remains a popular cultivar. The appreciation for Grease Monkey has spread far and wide throughout 2018, helping it gain popularity from Anchorage, Alaska to Baltimore, Maryland.

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4. Wedding Cake

(Julia Sumpter/Leafly)

With the all the hype over “dessert strains” recently, this is the year Wedding Cake stepped into the limelight, growing in influence on Leafly over 350% in 2018. Wedding Cake is a hybrid bred by Seed Junky Genetics that pairs the sweet doughy flavors of GSC with subtle fruity notes of Cherry Pie. A matchmaker’s dream!

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Nicknamed Pink Cookies when it was first released, this strain is celebrated for its vanilla accents and confectionary sweetness that give it the unique dessert quality that many Cookies offsprings embody.

From San Diego to Seattle, the entire West Coast is celebrating the matrimony between Cookies and Cherry Pie. Wedding Cake has even sparked a hot spot of acclaim within the thriving cannabis community of Michigan.

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3. Purple Punch

(Julia Sumpter/Leafly)

A beautiful cross of Grandaddy Purple and Larry OG, Purple Punch is known for its stunning bag appeal. The entire surface of this purple-tinged flower is coated in a thick layer of sparkling white resin that really catches the eye. Its sweet berry aroma and tart grape flavors usher in a euphoric burst that tapers quickly into sleepy relaxation.

Purple Punch also has a reputation for its long-stalked trichomes—resin glands with smaller heads and longer stalks—and is sometimes criticized for its lack of potency. Regardless, its undeniable visual appeal and sweet flavors make this strain popular breeding stock. Purple Punch has influenced other rising varieties, like Mimosa.

One of the top strains of this year’s fall harvest, the popularity of Purple Punch swelled about 475% in 2018. This gorgeous strain is widely available up and down the West Coast, as well as southwestern cities like Las Vegas, Nevada and Phoenix, Arizona.

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2. Blue Zkittlez

(Julia Sumpter/Leafly)

Interest in Blue Zkittlez, a strain popular throughout Oregon, grew almost 550% last year. This trendy strain was conceived when Dying Breed Seeds crossed the illustrious Zkittlez with the earthy, berry flavors of Blue Diamond. The result is a tasty flower exploding with sweet candy flavors.

The complex, berry-forward blend of flavors is accented with citrus notes and is one of the more memorable strains I’ve tried in 2018. Maybe it’s the name, but when I hit Blue Zkittlez all I can think of is a handful of chewy, fruity candy. Its happy, uplifting effects level off into comfortable relaxation and are appreciated by some for their arousing properties.

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1. Forbidden Fruit

(Julia Sumpter/Leafly)

Realizing nearly 825% growth in 2018, Forbidden Fruit is 2018’s top trending strain.

A Cherry Pie and Tangie hybrid bred by Chameleon Extracts, it emits a compelling blend of fruit aromas and flavors. The citrus mix is led by sour grapefruit notes that mingle with sweet cherry and berry flavors and finish with bright tropical highlights. The flavor profile reminds me of fruit salad or fruit punch.

Forbidden Fruit is a great “session strain,” often expressing only moderate levels of THC while maintaining its extremely rich terpene profile. Its relaxing, euphoric effects rise pleasantly without overpowering. Another popular strain of this past harvest season, Forbidden Fruit is especially popular in the Bay Area and Southern California.

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Other rising cultivars that populated bowls and dispensary menus throughout 2018 include these trending strains that just barely missed the top of the list.

6. Zkittlez, with engagement growing roughly 245% this year.

7. Do-Si-Dos saw over 200% growth in 2018.

8. Gelato, Leafly’s Strain of 2018, grew by more than 190% in the last 12 months.

9. Strawberry Banana increased its popularity by nearly 170%.

10. Orange Cookies’ popularity increased almost 160% compared to last year.

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Will Hyde
Will Hyde
Will is a brand builder, product expert, and storyteller with 2 decades of experience in the cannabis industry. The former co-host of Leafly's "What Are You Smoking" podcast has dedicated his life to sharing his passion for cannabis with anyone who will listen. Follow him on Instagram at @the.avid.dabber
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