Find out what is the difference is: Indica vs Sativa cannabis plants even though legally and scientifically they are all Cannabis Sativa L. How to tell the difference between Indica and Sativa in matters of appearance, size, effect and flower time? ? There is a lot of misinformation around sativa and indica weed strains. Check out Leafly's guide to learn about the difference between indica and sativa strains. Here are all the differences between indica and sativa hemp seeds and why everyone is talking about them. > Click here!
What is the difference between indica and sativa?
This article outlines the differences between sativa and indica cannabis plants. Read on to learn more about the origins of sativa and indica, plus how they differ in growth patterns, appearance, and the effects they produce after consumption.
The two most well known types of cannabis plants are Indica and Sativa. The differences between Indica dominant cannabis strains and Sativa dominant cannabis strains are many and varied.
Indica strains have a different range of effects on the body and mind than Sativa strains. Both have different medicinal benefits.
An Indica strain is generally associated with a sense of deep body relaxation. Sativa strains tend to provide a more energizing experience.
Scientifically (and legally), there is no difference between Indica and Sativa cannabis plants. And all cannabis plants are considered to be Cannabis Sativa L..
There are a multitude of different growth-patterns, qualities and effects within the ‘spectrum’ of cannabis.
The differences between Indica and Sativa are largely due to the fact that cannabis displays a remarkable ability to adapt to a wide range of different environments.
Since all branches of the cannabis family tree can interbreed freely (including industrial hemp and Cannabis ruderalis J.), some botanists consider all forms of the plant to be members of a single polymorphic species.
What are the origins? – Indica vs Sativa
Cannabis Indica L.
Most indica varieties come from central Asia and the Indian subcontinent – Afghanistan, Pakistan, northern India, Tibet, Nepal, and so on.
Cannabis Sativa L.
Sativas generally originate in the equatorial regions – Thailand, southern India, Jamaica, Mexico, and so forth.
The difference in physical appearance between Sativa and Indica
Indicas are compact and stocky, with dense, heavy, fragrant buds.
Cannabis plants produce nodes at regular intervals along their stems, and these nodes are the sites at which leaves, branches and flowers (buds) form. Indica buds tend to grow in dense clusters around the nodes of the stem and branches, with relatively short spaces (known as internodal gaps) between each cluster.
Given the same conditions, sativas grow taller than Indicas.
Sativa buds tend grow larger than Indica, as they run along the length of a branch instead of clustering around the nodes. However, they will usually weigh less than Indica when dry, due to their lower density.
Sativa buds also tend to have a less striking odour, both when growing and when dry.
Flowering time – Indica vs Sativa
Indicas are the faster flowering varieties and usually have a flowering time of 45 to 60 days.
A major difference between indica vs sativa is that sativas take longer to flower. They will usually need between 60 and 90 days to finish blooming.
However, they need less time for vegetative growth prior to flowering than Indicas do, so the overall time required for Sativas is about the same as for Indicas (and sometimes less in terms of ‘light hours’).
The difference in size between Indica and Sativa
Indicas gain height quite rapidly once flowering begins, but they shouldn’t grow out of control in normal circumstances.
An Indica may be expected to increase its vegetated height by a factor of 50-100% during its flowering period.
In tropical regions, the days tend to be relatively short – close to 12 hours long all year round – so Sativas are adapted to grow and flower at the same time instead of having distinct vegetative and blooming stages as Indicas do.
In a 12/12 indoor flowering cycle, sativas will grow and flower at the same time as they would in their native environment.
Sativas can increase in height very rapidly once flowering begins and will often continue to gain height throughout their blooming phase.
It is normal for sativas to gain 200-300% (or even more) of their vegetative height while flowering.
The difference in effect – Indica vs Sativa
Perhaps the most profound, yet trickiest to describe, difference between indica and sativa cannabis strains is their effect. This can be especially difficult to grasp for people who have never used psychoactive substances. Plus, new evidence suggests the cause of the difference is not what we always thought!
There are various posts on this blog about the physical, historical or geographical differences between the two main types of our favourite plant, but this article focuses on the differences between the effects of indica and sativa cannabis strains. (For simplicity’s sake, we will take ‘indica’ to mean ‘indica-dominant’ and sativa to mean ‘sativa-dominant’ in this context.)
‘Being stoned’ on indica vs ‘being high’ on sativa
Experienced cannabis users often refer to the effects of indica as ‘being stoned’, and the effects of sativa as ‘being high’, so that their audience knows what sort of state of mind they are in. Examples of this could be “I really don’t want to move off this couch right now, I’m so stoned I feel like I’m sitting on a big warm cloud”, and “I’m so high, do you want to bake biscuits or just watch some comedy? Because I’m so high. No, seriously, stop laughing, I am so. High.”.
This is all very well if you have experienced these states yourself, but they are not the easiest thing to accurately describe to those who have not! Writers from Charles Baudelaire to Jack Kerouac have wrapped their minds and words around the altered states created by cannabis, and attempted to take their readers with them to the worlds that they have explored whilst under its influence.
It can be difficult both to explain and to comprehend the difference between indica and sativa highs
A great deal of how the words of a psychonaut will be interpreted, and how successful they are in imparting the subjective truth of their experience, depends on the reader themselves. If the reader has not experienced anything comparable to the different psychoactive effects of indica, sativa, or both, can they really understand what the writer means?
Luckily, this article is not required to compete with the likes of Kerouac and Baudelaire, merely to try to explain to both the initiated and the inexperienced what the various results of consuming sativa or indica can be. It should also be pointed out that one is not objectively ‘better’ than the other; one of the great things about cannabis is how it seems to have an application for every occasion!
The typical effects of indica
Indica cannabis strains are associated with a feeling of relaxation in the body, as though stress is flowing out of the muscles. If you feel tense, or as though you are overwhelmed by pressure, consuming some indica can release this discomfort and replace it with a soporific ease. Imagine the feeling of sinking into a warm bath, or relaxing after a good massage.
Thoughts slow down, time seems to slow down, and, in classic ‘stoner’ fashion, it is possible that you will become so relaxed that you forget what you were doing, or were about to do! An often-referenced difference between indica and sativa effects is that indicas produce a feeling of sleepiness and passivity, whereas sativas induce an urge for activity.
It is interesting to note that due to prohibition, most illegally grown and sold cannabis is indica, since there is less risk associated with its quicker turnover and larger yields. The negative media portrayal of the ‘lazy, apathetic stoner’ could in part be due to the prevalence of indica among people forced to acquire cannabis illegally. With the major changes in legislation happening (especially in the US) and the new availability of sativas, in a few years’ time we may see a new stereotype – the ‘giggling, get up and go’ cannabis user. Which brings us to:
The typical effects of sativa
Sativa cannabis strains are associated with a feeling of rising or being uplifted in the head and mind. Creativity may begin to flow to the extent that you suddenly realise you have been staring into space as idea after idea goes through your mind, and concepts which previously seemed to have no connection join together to create new inspiration. There are numerous anecdotal reports, and even some science, on the tendency of cannabis to enhance pattern recognition. There are no studies on whether sativas produce this effect more than indicas, but this may well be the case.
Things can also strike you as funny, or far funnier than usual. Sativas have the power to render you helpless with laughter, suddenly gifted with a new appreciation for the absurd. An energetic desire to do something can seize you; what that ‘something’ is relies very much on the individual. Athletes may go for a run or work out. Artists may create, musicians may play music, gardeners may garden, and so on. The inspiration granted by the effect of sativas will manifest in what comes to hand for you.
The effects of indica vs sativa: the plot twist
Cannabis sativa L. was first classified in 1753 CE; Cannabis indica Lam. in 1785 CE. These classifications were not based upon effect, but botany. Modern cannabis authors such as Robert Connell Clarke built upon these classifications in their early works. They added more information about the type of high or stone that would be experienced from sativas and indicas.
Research into the effects of cannabis led to the discovery, and then synthesis of, CBD in 1963 and THC in 1964. For decades, it was thought that sativa cannabis strains contained higher levels of THC and indica cannabis strains contained higher levels of CBD. The restrictions of prohibition meant that this information mostly spread by word of mouth, but spread it did.
All the information about the different effects of sativa and indica described above has been ‘known’ since at least the 1970s, when dedicated breeding schemes and access to genetics from around the world came together. Ben Dronkers and his contemporaries were instrumental in honing and refining wild landrace strains into the building blocks of the modern cannabis seed industry – indicas, sativas, and hybrids.
The plethora of cannabis hybrids grows exponentially year by year, and research into the chemistry and taxonomy of cannabis barely keeps pace. Although humans have known that cannabis has a psychoactive effect for thousands of years, we have only known why – the existence of the endocannabinoid system – since the late 1980s.
The objective science of cannabis is still in its infancy. Compared to the subjective experience of millions of cannabis users, it’s practically still gestating. What is all this leading to? The revelation that there is barely any difference in CBD and THC levels between sativa and indica.
Once again, everything we know is wrong
With the publication of ‘Cannabis: Evolution and Ethnobotany’ in 2013, the vernacular definitions of indica and sativa (despite being built upon the work of Linnaeus and Lamarck) were called into question for both accuracy and usefulness.
The terms ‘broad leafed hemp/drug’ and ‘narrow leafed hemp/drug’ were proposed instead, to more properly describe four main types of cannabis rather than two. In practice, this has still yet to catch on. (Sensi Seeds continues to use the vernacular terms and definitions because these are most easily found, and understood, by our audience.)
In the last two years, research based on scientific rather than anecdotal evidence has been published that contradicts everything we thought we knew about the difference between not just the appearance and evolution, but also the effects of indica and sativa.
An exercise in futility
Dr Ethan Russo is a neurologist, psychopharmacology researcher, and Medical Director of PHYTECS, a biotechnology company researching the human endocannabinoid system. In this compelling interview from 2016, he holds nothing back in his assessment of the current popular understanding of the differences between the effects of indica and sativa:
“…the sativa/indica distinction as commonly applied in the lay literature is total nonsense and an exercise in futility … it is necessary to quantify the biochemical components of a given Cannabis strain and correlate these with the observed effects in real patients.”
Dr Russo goes on to say that monoterpenes are behind the different effects of different types of cannabis. The sedative effect associated with indica strains and their supposed high CBD, low THC content is due to myrcene. The uplifting feeling we associate with the putative high THC, low CBD sativas is thanks to limonene (also found in citrus peels).
Dr Ryan Vandrey, a behavioural pharmacologist at Johns Hopkins who specializes in cannabis and cannabinoids, disagrees with Dr Russo’s assessment, citing limited science on the topic. This article explores the different scientific viewpoints and available research on the subject in 2016, and this one from 2018 adds more detail about terpenes.
Mapping a complete biochemical fingerprint
If you want to really get into the science, ‘Cannabis: From Cultivar to Chemovar II—A Metabolomics Approach to Cannabis Classification’ from 2016 seems to be the most in-depth study so far. It postulates that the use of chemovar mapping – creating a kind of complete biochemical ‘fingerprint’ for each strain, based on its cannabinoid, monoterpene, and sesquiterpene profiles – is the best way of determining nomenclature.
This study also has a conclusion which holds some hope for the retention of the simple, familiar distinctions of sativa and indica. “… vernacularly labeled Sativa and Indica accessions could be well separated into two distinct groups, which means that true differences seem to exist in chemical composition between these two types of cannabis”.
Rather than basing these classifications on the THC:CBD ratio, other cannabinoids, and terpenes, are used. The less well-known cannabinoids cannabichromene (CBC) and cannabigerol (CBG) were found to be “slightly but significantly higher” in the strains named as sativas. For “the identification of (vernacular) Indica [sic]” types, the different terpene composition and the presence of hydroxylated terpenes are described as “good chemical markers”.
We are only just delving into the deep science of cannabis
This fits not only the scientific, but the anecdotal evidence. Experience incontrovertibly tells us that different types of cannabis produce different effects; the only problem is, we thought we knew why but we’re only just beginning to scratch the surface of the topic.
You could think of it as being like the evolution of planetary science. Humans have always seen the sun moving across the sky. The theories as to why it does so have evolved from the Earth being flat with the sun embedded in a moving dome above it, then the sun circling a spherical Earth, then a spherical Earth circling the sun in one tiny galaxy out of a potential number of two trillion galaxies.
Despite what we have learned about it, the sun has continued to travel across the sky in the same way; despite what we learn about cannabis, different types will continue to have different effects upon us.
Thanks for reading all of what was originally going to be a short and simple article! What do you think about the different effects of various types of cannabis? Have you ever experienced a sativa high from buds that were supposed to be indica, or vice versa? Let us know in the comments below!
Laws and regulations regarding cannabis cultivation differ from country to country. Sensi Seeds therefore strongly advises you to check your local laws and regulations. Do not act in conflict with the law.
Indica vs. sativa: understanding the differences between weed types
When browsing cannabis strains or purchasing cannabis at a dispensary, you’ll notice that strains are commonly broken up into three groups: indica, sativa, and hybrid. Most consumers and budtenders use these weed types to predict effects, but are they accurate?
Science is pointing to a better way of determining the effects a cannabis strain will have on you: cannabinoids and terpenes, the compounds that make up a particular strain’s chemical profile.
So why do smokers and budtenders alike still use indica, sativa, and hybrid instead of the cannabinoid and terpene model?
There’s a big push in the cannabis industry to disavow the indica/sativa/hybrid classification system because it is not based in data and science—the terms are botanical names that refer to a plant’s structure, not the effects it produces.
However, most of the cannabis industry, including shops where you buy weed, is still stuck in classifying strains as either indicas, sativas, or hybrids for one main reason: It’s easy. Give a consumer three options—up, down, or in-between—and you can easily explain how a certain strain will make them feel and sell a product. Like it or not, the indica, sativa, hybrid classification system is still entrenched in the world.
Both models have value, and consumers of all levels can use both. For an easier, more general way to pick a weed strain and its effects, the indica/sativa/hybrid model may work for you. Once comfortable with cannabis, you may want to dig into the nuances of weed a bit more, and learn about chemical profiles, cannabinoids, and terpenes—our preferred method.
Let’s look at the differences between indicas and sativas, and the usefulness of the two classification systems.
Indica vs. sativa: understanding the basics
The common understanding of indicas and sativas is that indica strains are physically sedating, perfect for relaxing with a movie or as a nightcap before bed, and sativa strains are energizing with uplifting cerebral effects that pair well with physical activity, social gatherings, and creative projects. Hybrid strains are thought to have a mix of indica and sativa effects.
But indica doesn’t always mean “in da couch” and sativas don’t necessarily energize all consumers. The origins of the two terms are actually rooted in botany, not effects, and describe the physical structure of a plant. On top of that, every person has a different body chemistry, so a strain can affect each person differently.
However, even today, the belief that indicas, sativas, and hybrids deliver distinct effects is still deeply rooted in mainstream cannabis culture. If you’ve ever been to a dispensary, you’ve likely heard a budtender begin a strain recommendation by asking which of those three types you prefer, but the science doesn’t support that.
The origin of indica and sativa
In 1753, Carl Linnaeus published Species Plantarum, classifying all cannabis plants under one group, “Cannabis sativa L.,” with “Cannabis” as the genus, “sativa” as the species, and “L.” indicating Linnaeus’ system. “Sativa” comes from the Latin “sativum,” meaning “cultivated.”
French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck updated the naming in 1785 with two distinct species: “Cannabis sativa,” a taller, lankier, and more fibrous plant, and “Cannabis indica,” a shorter, stouter, and more psychoactive plant, its name meaning “from India,” where it was thought to originate.
These definitions largely refer to each weed type’s physical structure and are still used today.
Typically thought to be energizing, sativas originally grew in warm, humid climates, growing long and lanky so they can dry out and not absorb so much humidity. Their warm climate also means they can take a long time to grow and flower, or produce buds, because the weather won’t get cold and rainy at the end of the growing season.
Typically said to be relaxing, indicas originally grew in cold, northern climates. They grew short and dense because of their environment, and their growing life cycle is shorter so they can get harvested before the cold and wet of fall and winter set in.
As a side note, what we call “hemp” refers to the industrial, non-intoxicating varieties of cannabis harvested primarily for fiber, seeds, CBD, and novel cannabinoids such as delta-8. Hemp’s fiber can be used to make materials and textiles, its seeds can be eaten, and CBD and other novel cannabinoids can be extracted from it. Legally, hemp is any cannabis plant with less than 0.3% THC.
Indica, sativa, and hybrid vs. cannabinoids and terpenes
Weed is incredibly nuanced. Each strain has its own chemical profile that will interact differently with each person’s body chemistry—the same strain could affect you and your smoking buddy completely differently.
As weed nerds here at Leafly, we prefer the more complex and specific model of determining a strain’s effects by looking at its mix of cannabinoids and terpenes (more below). But the indica/sativa/hybrid model is a basic, quick and easy way to get a general sense of how a strain will hit you. Just know that it isn’t exact.
Leafly’s own strain database uses the cannabinoid and terpene model, compiling the chemical profiles of thousands of strains using data from cannabis testing labs all over the country.
This method is a little more complex, but don’t let data scare you—once you find a strain you like, you can dial in your cannabis experience and find a strain that’s best for you.
How to use the indica, sativa, hybrid method
Had a long day and want to chill out? Need to do some spring cleaning or get a project done? Talking to your local budtender, they will tell you:
- Indicas are calm and relaxing, great for chilling out at the end of the night, watching a movie or listening to music, taking a nap, or just staring at the wall.
- Sativas are energetic and will make you productive. They’re great for physical activity, going for a hike, completing a task, cleaning, and anything that requires focus.
- Hybrid strains offer a mix of indica- and sativa-like effects.
Broadly speaking, you’ll see a lot of consistency to the idea that indicas are relaxing and sativas are energetic in Leafly’s own Top 100 cannabis strains: Most of the strains in the “sleepy” and “relaxed” categories are indicas, while most of the “energetic” strains are sativas.
Easy, right? Now let’s dial in that process.
Cannabinoids and terpenes
So if indica and sativa aren’t the best predictors of effects, what are?
The better way to pinpoint effects of different weed strains is to talk about their mix of cannabinoids and terpenes, or the chemical compounds in it. These compounds combine to create the entourage effect, leading to the feeling of being high.
What are cannabinoids?
The cannabis plant is composed of hundreds of chemical compounds that create unique effects, and the primary ones are cannabinoids. THC and CBD are the two most common cannabinoids and are the main drivers of cannabis’ therapeutic and recreational effects.
- THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is the compound that most think of when talking about weed—it’s what makes you feel high, and relieves symptoms like pain and nausea.
- CBD (cannabidiol) is a non-intoxicating compound known to alleviate anxiety, pain, inflammation, and many other medical ailments.
What are terpenes?
If you’ve ever used aromatherapy to relax or invigorate your mind and body, you understand the basics of terpenes, the aromatic compounds commonly produced by plants and fruit. They can be found in lavender flowers, oranges, hops, pepper, and of course, cannabis. Secreted by the same glands that ooze THC and CBD, terpenes are what make cannabis smell like berries, citrus, pine, fuel, etc.
There are many types of terpenes found in cannabis, but these four are the most common:
One question yet to be answered by research is how terpenes—and different combinations of terpenes—shape the effects of different cannabis strains. So while cannabinoids are the primary step in determining how a strain will make you feel, for example, whether you want THC or CBD in a strain, or both, terpenes add a lot to effects as well.
How to use the cannabinoid and terpene method
When choosing a cannabis strain, instead of thinking in terms of an indica or sativa, the better way is to think of weed is in terms of cannabinoids and terpenes, or a strain’s chemical profile (another name for this is “chemovars”).
Cannabis strains are broken down into three broad chemical profile types, or chemovars:
- Type I: high THC, low CBD
- Type II: balanced, or equal parts of THC and CBD (like 1:1 cannabis strains)
- Type III: high CBD, low THC
These terms are out there in the industry, but aren’t commonly used—you likely won’t hear a budtender using them, and most customers don’t walk into a weed shop asking for a “type II” strain; they’ll ask for a “balanced” or “1:1” strain.
Step 1: Pick a cannabinoid
To use the cannabinoid and terpene model to pick a strain, start by considering how much THC and CBD you want in your strain.
THC-dominant strains (Type I) are high THC/low CBD, and are great for people seeking a potent euphoric experience. These strains are also selected by patients treating pain, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and more.
Balanced THC/CBD strains, or 1:1 strains (Type II), contain similar levels of THC and CBD, offering mild euphoria alongside symptom relief. These strains tend to be a good choice for novice consumers seeking an introduction to cannabis’ signature high.
CBD-dominant strains (Type III) are high CBD/low THC, and are widely used by those highly sensitive to THC or patients needing clear-headed symptom relief because of their low levels of THC. If you tend to feel anxious with THC-dominant strains or dislike other side affects associated with THC, try a strain with high levels of CBD.
Step 2: Pick some terpenes
Take note of the terpenes in some of your favorite strains. You can find a strain’s terpene profile in Leafly’s strain database, and many products include this information as well.
For example, GSC is primarily composed of caryophyllene, with smaller amounts of myrcene, and limonene. If you like GSC, you may like strains with that similar mix of terpenes, such as GMO Cookies or OG Kush. Conversely, if you find a strain you don’t like, it’s highly likely you won’t like strains with that similar terpene profile.
Step 3: Use Leafly’s strain database
As previously mentioned, Leafly’s own strain database is based on the cannabinoid and terpene model. It’s the more accurate of the two models because it relies on data from cannabis testing labs.
Weed has to be tested before it can be sold in a dispensary, ostensibly for pesticides and contaminants, but sometimes also for its cannabinoid and terpene levels. Leafly uses that data to power our strain database and strain search tool, giving consumers a variety of related strains to choose from and explore once they find a strain they like.
More considerations when choosing between indicas and sativas
Other factors play into how a strain will affect you. Consider the following when looking for a cannabis strain or product.
Everyday smokers will have a much higher tolerance than occasional smokers and can often consume a lot more weed, or stronger weed, without feeling effects. If you don’t smoke a lot, remember the saying: “start low, go slow.”
A strain’s potency and how much you consume, known as dosage, will greatly affect a cannabis experience.
Many popular strains at dispensaries can be potent, and a strain packing 25% THC might not be as enjoyable as one with 16% THC. There’s no shame in opting for a low THC percentage—find the right level for you and your ideal experience.
Additionally, taking a couple puffs and smoking an entire joint will produce much different effects, and a different intensity of effects. If your tolerance is low, consider a low-THC strain in low doses.
Everyone’s body chemistry is different, and it’s hard to know how a strain will affect each individual. Even if you consume as frequently as someone else, your bodies could react to cannabis much differently. A friend may be able to burn down a whole joint, but maybe a puff or two are sufficient for you.
If you’re susceptible to anxiety or other negative side effects of THC, try a strain high in CBD.
Set and setting
Aside from tolerance, dosage, and body chemistry, your mindset and environment when consuming weed—known as set and setting—are crucial to enjoying cannabis. If you’re having a bad day or are nervous about trying weed, consuming it may give you negative effects. Additionally, if you’re not a social person, smoking in a big crowd may also give you negative feelings.
Set and setting depend entirely on the individual. Some people thrive in social settings, some don’t. Some prefer smoking in the comfort of their home, while others enjoy consuming out in nature.
How you consume weed will also determine how a strain affects you. One puff on a vape is generally thought to be lighter and deliver less effects than one puff of a joint. Doing dabs will produce intense effects immediately, and generally isn’t for beginners.
If you want long-lasting effects, consider edibles, and again, start low, and go slow.
Be mindful of any medical conditions you have, or if you are taking any medication, and how they might interact with cannabis. When in doubt, talk to your doctor or a medical professional before trying cannabis. They may have suggestions or recommendations for you to complement your existing medical or health regimen.
Desired effect, mood, or experience
If you’re hoping for a specific experience, like relaxing or watching a movie, or if you’re looking to treat an ailment like insomnia or nausea, use Leafly’s strain lists to help select a strain, or ask your local budtender for recommendations on what you’re looking for.
Remember that not all indicas are sleepy or heavy, and not all sativas are energetic or uplifting.
Note favorite and least favorite strains
Keep track of what weed strains you like and don’t like to explore (or avoid) similar strains. If you like a strain with a certain cannabinoid level and terpene profile, you’ll likely enjoy another strain with similar levels.
Additionally, strains in the same family, or with the same lineage, often have similar chemical profiles—GSC is derived from OG Kush, and is parent to GMO Cookies, Sherbert, and many more, so they’ll all have similar terpenes.
Summary of sativas, indicas, and hybrids
What is a sativa?
While not all sativa marijuana strains will energize you, most consumers notice a tendency for sativas to produce a “head high,” an uplifting, stimulating effect. They also often report sativas as being helpful in mitigating stress or anxiety, and many consumers enjoy sativas to sharpen focus and boost creativity or motivation.
Common effects associated with sativa strains include feeling happy, uplifting, euphoric, and energetic. Sativas are often thought of as “daytime” strains, used for feeling productive, creative, and focused, and for getting chores done.
Popular sativa strains
There are many sativa strains to try, and you’ve likely heard of some of the most popular. Most dispensaries should stock at least some of these sativa weed strains as they’re generally a crowd favorite.
What is an indica?
Not all indica strains will put you “in da couch,” but nevertheless, many consumers associate indicas with body effects, for example, heavy limbs or a tingly face. They also report indicas are helpful in aiding relaxation and curbing insomnia.
Common effects associated with indica strains include feeling relaxed, euphoric, happy, and sleepy. Indicas are commonly known as nighttime strains, used for relaxing and unwinding at the end of the night.
Popular indica strains
There are many indica strains, many of which you may be familiar with. Check your local dispensary for these popular indica weed strains.
What are hybrid strains?
Hybrid strains are bred from both indica- and sativa-descended plants. Due to the long history of crossbreeding cannabis, strains that have pure indica or pure sativa lineages are rare. Most strains referred to as “indica” or “sativa” are, in fact, hybrids, with genetics inherited from both types.
Since hybrid weed strains derive genetics from both indicas and sativas, their effects pull from both indica and sativa strains. Common effects include feeling happy, euphoric, uplifting, energetic, relaxing—it all depends on which hybrid you consume and what effects its parent strains produce.
Looking at a hybrid’s lineage—its parent strains—may give you a better sense of what kind of effects it will produce. For example, if it has more indica in its lineage, it might have effects more associated with those strains, but this is not always the case.
Popular hybrid strains
There’s certainly no shortage of hybrid strains on the market, and some of the most popular you’ll come across are also the most iconic.
Popular strains by strain type and effect
|Strain Name||Strain Type||THC||CBD||Helps with|
|Sour Diesel||sativa||18%||less than 1%||creativity, depression, anxiety|
|Green Crack||sativa||17%||less than 1%||energy, stress, euphoria|
|Lemon Haze||sativa||18%||less than 1%||happiness, fatigue, pain|
|Charlotte’s Web||sativa||less than 1%||13%||pain, stress, anxiety|
|Candyland||sativa||18%||less than 1%||socializing, relaxation, energy|
|Purple Punch||indica||19%||less than 1%||relaxation, stress, euphoria|
|Pennywise||indica||8%||8%||relaxation, anxiety, pain|
|Northern Lights||indica||16%||less than 1%||stress, pain, anxiety|
|GMO Cookies||indica||25%||less than 1%||pain, insomnia, relaxation|
|Bubba Kush||indica||17%||less than 1%||appetite, pain, insomnia|
|GG4||hybrid||20%||less than 1%||relaxation, happiness, stress|
|Sour Tsunami||hybrid||less than 1%||12%||pain, stress, anxiety|
|Sherbert||hybrid||18%||less than 1%||happiness, creativity, relaxation|
|Cannatonic||hybrid||5%||10%||pain, focus, stress|
|Blue Dream||hybrid||18%||less than 1%||relaxation, euphoria, happiness|
Indica vs. sativa FAQs
Here are answers to some common questions about indica and sativa marijuana.
Is there a difference between indicas and sativas?
“Indica” and “sativa” are botanical terms referring to a plant’s physical structure. As far as effects, indicas are thought to be sedating and relaxing, while sativas are thought to be uplifting and energetic.
Do sativas give you energy?
While there is no scientific evidence that sativas give you energy, they are believed to be uplifting and euphoric.
Do sativas give you a body high?
Sativas are commonly thought to provide a head and body high, although every consumer’s body chemistry is different.
Do sativas give you the munchies?
Sativa strains may help stimulate appetite and give you the munchies, but it depends on your body chemistry.
Will sativas keep you up at night?
Sativas are thought to be energizing so they may keep you up at night, but it depends on your body chemistry.
Do indicas make you sleepy?
In general, indicas are thought to be relaxing, which can make you feel sleepy.
Do indicas give you a body high?
Some indica strains are known for delivering heavy body highs.
Will indicas make me feel paranoid?
If you’re prone to anxiety or paranoia when sober, indica or sativa strains may cause negative effects, but it depends on your body chemistry.
Will indicas turn my eyes red?
Indicas or sativas may make your eyes turn red, depending on your body.
- Scholler DJ, et. al. Use patterns, beliefs, experiences, and behavioral economic demand of indica and sativa cannabis: A cross-sectional survey of cannabis users. Exp Clin Psychopharmacol, 2021. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33856822/
- Clarke RC, Merlin MD. Cannabis Evolution and Ethnobotany. UC Press, 2013. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/275175754_Cannabis_Evolution_and_Ethnobotany
- Russo, EB. Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects. Br J Pharmacol, 2011. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21749363/
- John M McPartland JM, Small E. A classification of endangered high-THC cannabis (Cannabis sativa subsp. indica) domesticates and their wild relatives. PhytoKeys, 2020. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32296283/
This article was originally published September 20, 2018 and is often updated for accuracy and clarity.
Cannabis indica or sativa? Here are the main differences
The difference between cannabis indica and sativa (and their seeds)
Take a look at our auto-flowering, and feminized seeds offer, and you will undoubtedly notice the different types of “Genetics” for each product. It specifies whether the cannabis seeds have indica or sativa predominance. The terminology “Indica” and “Sativa” often determine the buyers’ choice.
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These two genetics have very different characteristics: both in terms of aromas and effect. Besides, they are also different in terms of the growth and development times of the plant.
The difference between indica and sativa cannot be reduced to the simple fact that “the sativa gives euphoria, and the indica relaxes”, but it is necessary to better explain all the peculiarities of these plants.
Furthermore, it must be considered that each strain has its unique characteristics. The Green Tiger seeds and the OBG Kush seeds are not the same plants. They do not have the same effects and taste although they both have a genetic 20% sativa and 80% indica (we rarely found varieties 100% indicates or 100% sativa).
Each cannabis strain has its unique aromatic profile, effect, growth, shape and colour of flowers. Therefore, it makes no sense to limit yourself to always buy the same strain and genetic. That is why marijuana enthusiasts love – usually – tend to diversify.
Despite this fact, there are general characteristics that indica and sativa have in common. Let’s see which ones, starting with the origins of these two macro-categories.
Origins of cannabis indica and cannabis sativa
Cannabis indica and sativa are varieties originating from entirely different regions. Several studies have determined that Sativa is a cannabis native from tropical climate regions such as Colombia, Thailand and Mexico. Indica, on the other hand, was born in areas with colder temperatures, especially in winter, such as India and Nepal. That’s why, not surprisingly, the cannabis indica is often called Indian hemp.
These two species were classified in the second half of the 18th century (the sativa by the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus and the indica by the French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck). Besides, in 1930, the Russian botanist Dmitrij Janischewsky identified a third subspecies of cannabis: the cannabis ruderalis.
Indica and sativa are therefore not the only existing cannabis varieties (although they are the most common). There is also a third variety called ruderalis, whose flowering is automatic after about 20-40 days after germination. Therefore, flowering does not depend on the seasons but on the age of the plant. As you can imagine, autoflowering cannabis seeds are born precisely from the union between the ruderalis and an indica or sativa.
Now that you know a few more details about the discovery of the types of cannabis. Let’s go deeper into the topic of the article: the difference between indica and sativa.
Let’s start with the seeds.
Are there differences between Cannabis Indica seeds and Cannabis Sativa seeds?
Usually, the cannabis seeds are large, ovoid and have numerous black or dark brown streaks over their entire surface. The cannabis sativa seeds, on the other hand, are smaller, round and with little or without stripes.
However, consider that most of the species on the market are hybrid. It is why seeds can have mixed characteristics and not 100% reflect this difference – even if they tend more to one genetics rather than another.
That being said, we know that the main inequalities between indica and sativa are noticed during the stem and flowers growth.
But be careful: here we are explaining the potential of marijuana seeds and the characteristics of the various strains. However, we advise you against planting seeds. European law strictly prohibits the germination of THC marijuana seeds (i.e. classic marijuana, not CBD). Depending on the size of the cultivation, growing these seeds is considered a criminal or administrative offence. For this reason, our online shop only sells autoflowering and/or feminized collectable seeds.
The differences between the cannabis indica and the cannabis Sativa plants
The stem of cannabis indica, or Indian hemp, grows slower than the sativa plants. However, at the opposite, it blooms faster than its “sister”.
The differences between the two species are clear from the stem characteristics:
- Cannabis Indica plant: its stem has a shape that looks like a small Christmas tree, and develops large and short, decidedly squat marijuana leaves. Besides, its height rarely exceeds 150 centimetres if grown outdoors (slightly lower if grown indoors).
- Cannabis Sativa plant: its structure is slenderer than the indica, so much so that it can reach up to about 5 meters if grown outdoors in favourable conditions (it will not be as tall if it grows indoors). Also, it has a candelabrum structure and very long and tapered leaves.
These characteristics are less accentuated in hybrid strains. Still, it is possible to note, from the features of the plant, if a variety of marijuana has specific genetic-characteristics that tend more to the indica rather than the sativa and vice versa.
Let us now look at the flowers and effects of the two species.
Flowers and effects of Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis indica
Generally, the indica plants generate cannabis flowers (also called buds) that grow in clusters around the nodes of the branches and stem. These flowers are very close to each other. The cannabis sativa buds, on the other hand, tend to grow all along the branches and are larger than those of indica.
Cannabis indica flowers usually have extremely relaxing effects, sometimes anticipated by a short spurt of euphoria, especially in hybrid varieties. However, the sativa inflorescences typically stimulate a burst of intense laughter and energy and often increase the creative talents of those who hire them.
For these reasons, the indica varieties (or most indica genetics) are often appreciated by those who need relief from physical pain and/or relaxation. Also, some marijuana connoisseurs say that the sativa is perfect against anxiety, depression or, more generally, moments of sadness.
Where to buy the best collectable cannabis seeds?
You can buy high-quality feminized seeds and autoflowering seeds (also fast-flowering ) on SensorySeeds.
The seeds in our online shop come from one of the best seed banks: BSF Seeds, famous all over the world for its attention to the product and the generation of seeds of the highest quality.
What are you waiting for? Take a look at our varieties of marijuana seeds on Sensoryseeds.com now!