I have been doing some research online about psychoactive plants, and I happened to stumble upon a plant called Leonotis Leonurus aka Wild Dagga or Lion's Tail.

Anyway, I ordered some Leonotis Leonurus seeds (about 50) online and I plan on growing them so I can use them for their psychoactive properties (they are completely legal where I'm from). However, from what I've heard, the effects of the plant are quite mild when compared to other plants such as marijuana. The chemical that makes Leonotis Leonurus psychoactive is called leonurine.

My question is, how can I breed Leonotis Leonurus plants to create more potent (more leonurine, so stronger psychoactive properties) strains? Would I need special equipment? Would I need other plants? Would it take a long time (3+ years)?

If what I'm trying to do has already been done with other plants like marijuana, surely it must also be possible to do this with Leonotis Leonurus.

  • I feel this is completely within our realm. Plant biology or botany is basic to what we know and try to teach. This is an interesting and important question to actually HELP people to think things through and not get in trouble with a bit of a dangerous plant.
    – stormy
    Commented Nov 22, 2016 at 6:25

3 Answers 3


Not only will it take you more than 3 years but also a huge plot of land.

You are effectively trying to evolve the plants using artificial selection to contain more of a particular substance.

Selection requires both mutations and a population large enough to actually select something.

You need a particular(set of) mutation(s). It is very unlikely your tiny gene pool of likely inbred seeds contains any gene you can use. So you are starting from scratch. For reference, new super-hot pepper breeds all come from crosses between already super-hot peppers. What you are trying to do is breeding a jalapeno so that it becomes a Habanero.

You first need as many random mutations as possible and this requires again numbers. Hundreds, thousands, the more the merrier. Once you have your plantation ready you need to measure their potency and cull the weaker plants yearly. It may take decades, or even longer for your plants to randomly acquire a useful mutation. So the answer is numbers and patience.

By the way, Wikipedia states that high concentrations of the psychoactive substance cause organ failure in animals. So it would not only be difficult but also possibly dangerous to your health to increase the plants' potency. Luckily for you, it is very unlikely you succeed.

  • 1
    Also necessary would be some means of preventing cross pollination, so at some point, large greenhouse isolation will probably be required.
    – Bamboo
    Commented Nov 17, 2016 at 12:17

If you are unable to go as large-scale as jbcreix suggests, here's the way I would go -

When the plant is still in a vigorous state of vegetative growth (as opposed to flower/seed development), take multiple cuttings from each plant, and carefully sort or label them.

When you harvest from you eventual plants, you should have a large body of young, developing plants that are genetically equal to each of the original plants.

Keep the harvest from each plant separate and similarly labeled. You go and quality test your harvest, trying samples from each one. The ones you deem "strongest," you plant an cultivate those plants, the other ones, maybe you plant them too, since you went through the trouble of making all the cuttings and rooting them, but you do not grow them after that.

Cross pollinate the strongest plants, plant the seeds, and then follow the same process to select out the strongest strains. If you get one that is particularly strong or very close to what you deem to be a success, you may want to keep a plant alive just for cuttings, and then pollinate the strongest offspring back with the "mother," for repeated generations to try breed out some of the genetic variability.

Not sure what the life cycle is from germination to seeds/harvest, but it will likely take you several years to selectively breed a strain like you are looking for.

  • 2
    I'm rather wondering how it will be possible to check for a stronger psychoactive strain without a professional laboratory - I've got visions of his having to sample each plant personally to see how strong it is, which can't be healthy, given the link with organ failure if taken in high doses
    – Bamboo
    Commented Nov 18, 2016 at 1:14
  • 1
    @Bamboo - I would think it would be subjective, and it wouldn't be a side-by-side comparison, because already being in an altered state would make subsequent sampling different, in circumstance, than the original. Commented Nov 18, 2016 at 13:05
  • Precisely - no way to know really, is there...
    – Bamboo
    Commented Nov 18, 2016 at 16:51
  • 1
    And while the very general comparison to marijuana is possibly applicable, marijuana does not achieve toxicity. Trying to strengthen a substance that has toxic effects is a potentially dangerous undertaking, as well. Commented Nov 18, 2016 at 18:24
  • There are ways to test the THC and CBD's of marijuana, why hasn't the same thing been done with this Lion's Tail? By the way, someone DID try to enhance the THC in marijuana, genetically not the old fashioned way by speeding up evolution. This strain if used in conjunction with opiates (someone had a tooth pulled, say, and is on Vicodin for example) can KILL that person. This was in the news 15 years or so ago. I've got an incredible doctor that knows drugs and their interactions with other drugs. He gets kids off of the drugs they are addicted to. Tried to look this up but no info...
    – stormy
    Commented Nov 19, 2016 at 19:35

This is so akin to growing Marijuana...I looked it up to find it is a schedule one drug. Not too many countries would legalize this as well as being assigned an actual LD50 number!!

It DOES have a LD50 number which means it is toxic. LD50 means 'lethal dose for half the population'...kind of grotesque cause they had to have hundreds of some poor animal to test this upon to get this number. They inject or feed a test substance on 300 rats for instance. How fast that substance takes to kill 1/2 of the population of rats (150 poor things) makes the number. The lower the number the more toxic the substance. Nicotine has one of the lowest LD50 numbers of all chemicals.

If something is actually assigned an LD50 number, gee, I would put the brakes on growing and harvesting and using until I knew more than what my friends, a magazine article have offered. A lot more.

Any plant grown to make seed to propagate its properties needs to have a STERILIZED, air tight room. Sterile soil, tested water source (not tap water). No other soil, organics, smokers, friends, insects can be allowed into the room. Of course you have to have state of the art lighting...as well.

To make a long story short, you need to learn how to grow this plant, any plant successfully before you jump into commercial thoughts. You need to know the plant down to the cellular level. You need a network where you can find the best seed producer. Do you know the best germination method for this particular plant?

Are you proficient with soils and plants? If not, get started learning the basics so that you know where to go after the basics. Do you have an airtight 'green room' to do this? You can't do it outside. One, just ONE pollen would throw everything off, others with the same plants nearby (let's say 5 mile diameter minimum) will fill the air with pollen of unknown genetics and pollinate all other exposed plants, including yours. You HAVE to have an airtight room, lots of ventilation (big fans), air being pumped out and air being pumped in through a filter. The original room will have been sterilized with bleach. You have to know the male plant from the females as soon as possible. One male with one flower or even ONE female plant with a bit of hermaphrodite genes producing ONE male flower will pollinate all the other female flowers. Talk about ruining a crop for psychoactive plant material. Now if you WANT seed, you have to have a special little greenhouse completely airtight for one couple or 2 or more females with one male. Then you have to be aware those female plants can not be around any other females plants as the pollen collected on the plant can be lifted and used by other female flowers/plants. Or you could learn how to pollinate manually (easiest, surest)...

Buy the best seed you can find. Start with ONE species. Get proficient with one species before you try another species. You have to have the best grow lights...minimum cost $300+ each fixture, each mh/hps fixture should cost $300 ish, to include ballast. T-5 fixture fluorescent should have 4 bulbs minimum and two sets of bulbs, one as blue for vegetative, and one for red spectrum for reproductive.

FANS. Regular heat maintained between 55 to 80 degrees F. Thermostats and humidity sensors. Timers for light cycles and heaters and fans and humidifiers and air pumps. Good water. Tap water sucks. Well water would be ideal. Most people have specialized filters on their well water. No one uses tap water without serious filters.

All soil will have to be purchased as bagged sterilized potting soil or growing medium. Period. You'll need to get into pH testing and augmenting. Sterilized pots with drainage...finely tuned fertilizers (NOT food...), selected bacteria and mycorrhizae spores, labeled organic additives. Be glad to help but need to know what level you are with plants. More information such as any hardware you've invested in...

Chemistry set for testing pH of soils and water. Great great potting soil, perhaps a separate bag of soil just to start plants. Tiny pots for tiny starts...4" pots to upgrade the first time, 1 gallon pots the third time...and 2 and 5 gallon pots...depending on how large/mature they need to be for the active ingredients.

One doesn't just decide to go into the business without experience. There is no way anyone can do that. But it is very much fun and what a way to become a bona fide gardener. In the marijuana world, Jorge Cervantes is the king know it all. His book, 'Cannabis Encylopedia' is a MUST HAVE. All about ONE plant but the detail it goes into can be used for any plant...One of the best books on how to grow plants ever and it is so inexpensive. Go get Shane Smith's greenhouse gardening, excellent, excellent. Surely there must be authors on Lion's Tail.

My point is if you are not a gardener, and you know if you are or aren't, if you can't grow vegetables or have NEVER HAD vegetable gardens you are putting the cart before the horse. Costly. Discouraging.

This is just straight forward advice, not a deal breaker. You most certainly can learn to GET to the level of botanical genetics but no way jose could someone just get there by having someone tell them what they need to know. Have you got house plants? Have you got a basement, greenhouse that can be converted to full time green house? Are you ready to make big mistakes in order to learn and master a crop? What do you know about ecosystems? Insects? Soils? Hardiness Zones? Water, chemistry, how plants are different than animals? Do you know what Xylem, Phloem, Cambium mean? Do you know fertilizer is not food? If one is supposed to be in total control as in a greenhouse/growhouse situation do you know how to deal with powdery mildew, or spidermite, or whatever situation you find yourself confronted?

I'm a professional plant person and I get overwhelmed with the complexity, vigilance and commitment necessary to grow a crop of anything. Trying to grow many different kinds of vegetables with different needs takes so very much thought!! I hope I haven't discouraged you but even if you were a professional plant person you just should not jump into genetics at the beginning.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.