Gelato holds a special place in the cannabis world. Known as one of the most famous strains of all time, its legendary taste coupled with euphoric cerebral effects has inspired growers all over the world to come up with their own version of the classic. The end result? A legion of delicious Gelato phenotypes including Gelato #41, Gelato #42, Gelato #47 (Mochi Gelato), and Gelato #49 (Acai Berry Gelato).


Like so many others, this strain was created by accident. The story begins when Bay-Area based Mr. Sherbinski, who's known as a “cannabis tastemaker and curator of world-famous genetics”, accidentally pollinated a Girl Scout Cookies plant with a male Pink Panties plant in 2014. “That was not planned parenthood,” said Sherbinski in a 2017 interview. “I was mad.”

To his delight, however, Mr. Sherbinski would eventually discover that he had a gem on his hands. Sherbinksi paired up with the famed Cookie breeder Jigga and cultivator Mario Guzman. Together they crossed Cookie Fam creations Sunset Sherbet with Thin Mint GSC, a phenotype of Girl Scout Cookies. The end result? A sweet hybrid strain that would take the cannabis world by storm.

Gelato was first harvested in French Lick, Indiana – hometown to former professional basketball player Larry Bird. The name “Larry Bird” quickly became associated with the strain, which led to Bird’s jersey number #33 birthing one of the most common phenotypes available on the market today (Gelato #33 a.k.a. “Larry Bird”).

Thanks to its unique aroma and taste, Gelato is one of the most beloved strains out there. It took home Leafly’s “Strain of the Year” in 2008, and has racked up five additional awards between 2016 and 2019 at events like the Emerald Cup and the High Times Cannabis Cup. 

Vintage: circa 2014

Lineage: Thin Mint Cookies (Girl Scout pheno) x Pink Panties 

Breeder: Mr. Sherbinski, Cookies’ Jigga

Pheno Hunter: Mario Guzman

Gelato Strain Effects: Indica or Sativa?

The effects Gelato produces are very much in line with its parent strains. While Gelato is a hybrid, it’s often classified as ‘indica-leaning’. This characteristic typically results in a gentle high that puts the body at ease. The effect is typically not strong enough to induce ‘couch lock’. Gelato is potent, so it’s a strain best left to more experienced smokers.

In terms of cerebral effects, Gelato reveals the influence of its Girl Scout Cookies parent and its Durban Poison grandparent through a reported shift in perception. Users claim to experience altered states including extra sensitivity to sound and time dilation, giving this strain a psychedelic quality. The head high is euphoric and creative, making this a great strain for social and daytime use. Reported side effects include dry mouth, dry eyes and dizziness.

The potency of Gelato makes it a great candidate for patients seeking relief from a wide range of issues. Many medical marijuana patients report using Gelato to treat headaches, inflammation, muscle spasms and headaches. Other conditions that may benefit from use of this strain include depression, anxiety and PTSD. 

Gelato Strain Characteristics and Terpenes

This strain is known for the dark green and grape colors that run through it. Nugs are small, dense and tightly packed, suggesting an indica variety. Gelato is covered in bright orange hairs and a glittering of trichomes that allude to its irresistible flavor. Its purple hues are the result of high concentrations of anthocyanin pigments, which develop when the plant is stimulated by cold weather while it’s in the vegetative stage. 

Does the Gelato Strain Have a Strong Smell?

The smell of Gelato is one of its greatest appeals. A whiff may reveal sweet notes of blueberry and citrus coupled with an earthy lavender scent. Other notes including dough and yeast-like scents can be spotted, too, contributing to this strain’s unique berry pie smell. These scents are then translated into a heavy, berry influenced cloud of smoke that’s thick on the exhale. 

Gelato may have higher than typical cannabigerol (CBG) content in part due to its Durban Poison grandparent. In terms of terpene composition an average of lab analyses shows a few primary terpenes at work: caryophyllene, limonene, myrcene and linalool. Citrusy limonene is evident in smell as is linalool, which is also present in lavender. The effects of the two are opposites that work in tandem as limonene contributes energizing qualities while linalool works on relaxing the body. Caryophyllene contributes slight peppery, earthy notes and may exert other effects including neuroprotective and antioxidant effects.

Gelato Strain Grow Tips

Gelato is not considered an easy strain for novices to handle, and is typically best left to experienced growers. It can be grown in or outdoors and requires a warm, humid environment around 75℉ — a feat accomplished more easily in an indoor grow where temps can be controlled. Growers looking to develop its signature purple hue will also need to expose Gelato plants to cold temperatures just before the flowering period to stimulate production of anthocyanin pigments. Flowering occurs at eight to nine weeks for indoor grows, with an ideal harvesting time of mid-October for outdoor grows. 

Some growers have also noted Gelato is an especially pungent strain. Indoor growers may want to consider implementing odor control options such as exhaust fans or carbon filters.