Indica vs Sativa: Everything You Need to Know

So you’re curious about the difference between an Indica vs Sativa. Maybe you want to know the different types of highs you’ll get from an indica vs sativa vs hybrid. Whether you're growing cannabis or just buying it, there is value in knowing what you’re consuming.


There are a staggering 2,494 cannabis strains currently recorded on the popular cannabis database Leafly. Some of these strains are classified as sativa and some are indica but the majority of them are under the hybrid category. So how are these categories different, how do they affect your high, and what should you pick, an indica or a sativa? 


All cannabis can be classified into three different species: Indica, Sativa, and Ruderalis. Each species has their own set of strains (eg. Og Kush, Purple Haze, Pineapple Express, etc.) and desirable traits (eg. a sativa high stimulates brain activity, but an indica high loosens your limbs). Strains can be bred together to form a blend of traits. This blended strain is called a hybrid. 


Today, we take a closer examination of each of these iconic plant species, their physical differentiators, and the various effects they provide.


INDICA

Background

Classified in 1785 when Jean-Baptiste Lamarck described a second type of cannabis from India. Indica grows better in the cooler temperatures and high altitude of the Hindu Kush mountain range, including regions of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Morocco, India, and Nepal.

Effects

Often referred to as a night time favorite, this strain is primary used for relaxing. Indicas decreases energy and will put you ‘in da couch’. With its higher CBD levels, Indicas are often popular for medical purposes. 

Physical Appearance

Short and bushy plant with wide leaves that are dark green, or even purple tinted. Its darker color is due to higher amounts of chlorophyll in the plant. Its buds grow in clusters and are heavy and fragrant.

SATIVA

Background

Classified in 1753, by a biologist named Carl Linnaeus. The sativa plants thrive in the warmer equatorial climates, such as Colombia, Mexico, Thailand, and Southeast Asia. Due to the plants popularity for medicinal and recreational consumption the plant is grown all over the world.

Effects

Often praised for its uplifting effect, sativa’s higher THC levels offer an energizing “head high”. Brain activity is stimulated, creating heightened senses and can offer enhanced creativity, productivity, and relief from depression.

Physical Appearance

Tall plant, loosely branched body with leaves that are long, thin, and are lighter green in color. Its buds are light, airy, and long.

Indica vs. Sativa

Sativa is a taller plant that uses less chlorophyll and as such, it usually takes longer to flower — usually between 10 to 16 weeks.Indica is a faster growing strain that usually flowers between 7 to 9 weeks. Due to their short, yet dense nature, they are well suited for indoor growing.


Ruderalis


Background

Ruderalis grows wild in the northern regions of Eastern Europe, Russia, and Asia. It can grow well in harsher climates with shorter growing seasons.

Physical Appearance

Short plant with thick stems. The plant is rugged and has fewer leaves and a light green colour. The buds are small but still chunky.

Effects

This strain has minimal THC content compared to sativa or indica. However, the cool thing about this strain is that they are classified as ‘Autos’ (automatic flowering). Autoflower strains start to flower and produce buds based on it’s age, rather than how long the light and dark periods are. Because of this, breeders often bred ruderalis with sativas and indicas to create autoflowering hybrids that reach flowering stage faster.

Hybrid


Background

Not all strains will be either Sativa or Indica. In fact, most are not 100% of either. Breeders will mix and breed different strains together to select specific traits that the breeders are most excited about. Some cannabis plants have been selected to lean more towards either sativa or indica (eg. 75% sativa with 25% indica), but many are a perfect split of 50/50 sativa/indica.

Number of Recorded Strains

1092

The Verdict


With over 2,000 cannabis options available to you, and more being created every week, picking your strain is just the beginning of your journey. The effort to find the right mix of strains that works for you is well worth it in the end, and an enjoyable undertaking. There is no real answer to whether Indicas, Sativas or Hybrids are better. It all comes down to personal preference which can only be determined through experimentation!  Have a question? What to know something else about an Indicas or a Sativas? Leave a comment below!