Where Does Kratom Come From?

Kratom is native to the rain-forest areas of Southeast Asia; Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Myanmar.  Most species are trees, some reaching heights of almost 100 feet.

The different strains of Kratom in each of these regions have distinctive traits that make them all equally special. Even though different regions grow the same plant, each region produces a distinctive variety. The varied physical, whether, and climatic conditions affects the potency of each strain.

The genus was given its name by Dutch botonist, Peter Korthals because the stigmas in the first species he examined resembled the shape of a bishop’s mitre. This genus is characterized by a globular flowering head, bearing up to 120 florets each. Mitragyna species has been used medicinally as well as for their fine timber through the areas they grow.

Maeng Da

Maeng Da is unique among kratom strains, and is generally considered one of the most potent varieties. How did Maeng Da rise to such popularity? well, the history of the strain is obscure, however, we did find some interesting information regarding it’s origins.  According to many in the kratom community, there is a unique story tied to this plant.

Red Maeng Da

Green Maeng Da

White Maeng Da

The origin of the Maeng Da strain is said to be tied to a specific plantation in Indonesia, known to themselves as the “World’s First Legal Kratom Plantation.” At this point, kratom was legal in nearly all countries besides Thailand, yet for some reason, they stuck with the name.

This plantation heavily marketed their product as “Genetically Grown”, which is why, to this day, some (incorrectly) say that Maeng Da is genetically engineered; yet there is a world of difference between genetically modified kratom, and “genetically grown” kratom.

From reports, their goal was to create the perfect Thai strain through grafting, common in other horticultural trades. Grafting is the process of inserting the vascular tissues of one plant into another in hopes they inosculate — creating  a strong, early-maturing kratom tree while combining traits of two individual plants.

The grafting process produced amazing effects for the “Worlds First Legal Kratom Plantation”, and they named the potent strain Maeng Da, the word for a large edible beetle, as well as a derogatory term for a pimp.

Over time, the strain produced from this plant was lost, and the term Maeng Da quickly changed to identify a highly potent strain of kratom, typically a strong Red Vein Thai or a strong horned variety.

While the term Maeng Da, does not necessarily mean the same thing that it used to, it is still a term used to refer to most potent strains of kratom available.


Thailand is a native home of the kratom tree, where it is known as Kakuam or Ithang. It has been cultivated and harvested by the local population for thousands of years, as kratom trees grow fruitfully in the south of the country.

Interestingly, kratom has an intimate connection with the history of opium, which is abundant in Thailand. When individuals were addicted to opium, they would often substitute it with the kratom leaf, which provided milder effects and relieved withdrawal symptoms. This provided a way for people to wean themselves off their addiction to opium by slowly taking less and less kratom every day.

It is rumored that this relationship between kratom and opium caused Thailand to pass the Kratom Act 2846, in 1943.The use of Mitragyna Speciosa (kratom) continued to grow, and it cut into the Thailand government’s highly lucrative taxes on opium traders and shops. As more people turned to kratom, a much less expensive option than opium, the government started to see declining tax revenues, prompting the kratom ban.

The recent targeting of kratom by certain agencies begs the question: Is a similar situation playing out in the USA now?

This Act made kratom and its alkaloids a controlled and scheduled substance within Thailand. Possession of the herbal product was made illegal and the law demanded that no new kratom trees could be planted, and all existing trees were to be cut down and destroyed so that no new leaves could be harvested. However, enforcement of this law was not very effective since the tree is naturally indigenous to the region. Many traditional populations, especially in the south of the nation are rumored to continue to grow and use kratom.

True Thai-grown kratom is impossible to come by due to it being illegal in Thailand, so all “Thai” kratom is grown elsewhere no matter what some vendors would like to state. That being said, Thai strains that you find on the market today are grown near Thailand. Thai and Malay kratom seem to be very similar – which makes sense, given the geographical proximity of each other. The same goes with the strain found on Sumatra, cut off from Malaysia and Thailand by only the narrow Straits of Malacca.


Borneo is the third largest island in the world. Home to three different countries: Indonesia, Brunei, and Malaysia. Because of the vast size of the island, it is home to differing climates and weather conditions, making its kratom strains fairly diverse compared to many other regions. Kratom has been used medicinally in this area for thousands of years, and the vast majority of this island’s kratom is wild-crafted; still harvested directly from wild mature trees which populate the area. Currently, this region is the world’s largest exporter of kratom, and it has some of the most ideal climates for growing strong kratom.

Red Borneo

Green Borneo

White Borneo

Sometimes users get confused between the “Bali” and “Borneo” strains, but there is a significant difference between them. While both strains come from Indonesia, true Borneo grows on the giant rugged island of Borneo, and Bali grows on the smaller island of Bali.

Although Borneo strains can vary depending on the region and type, they share many common characteristics which keep them in such high demand.


Bali is a province situated in Indonesia.

It encompasses the big island as well as other small islands surrounding it. In the recent past, Bali kratom was the standard. Most kratom companies would offer regular, super and premium Bali, and occasionally the rare “Bali Gold”. Bali kratom it still one of the most desirable strains of kratom.

Fun Fact: Most strains once advertised as Bali kratom typically weren’t from Bali, in fact, they are typically shipped from southern or western Borneo and were initially labeled Bali due to its use as a shipping hub. However, this doesn’t mean that this variety of kratom is entirely a hoax, as it still represents a particular strain that was once extremely common.


Indonesia is the ideal environment for the growth of many different strains. Indonesian kratom grows abundantly and wildly due to the ideal humidity, rainfall and sunlight, making it one of the best regions for growth and production. While Indonesia encompasses a large area, Indo strains are commonly used as an umbrella to describe the more sedative varieties, often hybrids (intentionally or unintentionally) of Bali and Borneo strains.

Kratom has grown in Indonesia for thousands of years. You will find a variety of plantations and wild farmers in Indonesia, all of which have contributed to refining and perfecting the production process.  Indo kratom is plentiful, and widely available on the market today.

Malay (Malaysian)

Malaysian kratom is one of the original, traditional products of Southeast Asia’s vast native rainforests, known world-wide for its rich history and purity. South of Thailand and Northeast of Indonesia, the forests of Malaysia are the source of several unique and powerful strains. Native cultures in Malaysia and other neighboring countries have been using the leaves for countless generations.  True Malay Kratom is one of the best-selling strains available and is carried by most high quality Kratom vendors online.

next page – Is Kratom Legal? >>

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