Many people aren’t aware of the differences between indica and sativa, two species of cannabis that are most well-known among cannabis users. It might be difficult to tell what exactly makes one strain of marijuana sativa or indica as well as what its prominent features are.
While the two definitely share some characteristics, they have their differences as well, and in this article, we will try to make that distinction clearer.
What is indica?
Originating in the Middle East, in places such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Tibet where most indica varieties come from, the Cannabis indica plant is one of the subspecies of cannabis that has distinguishable features in terms of appearance, size, flowering cycle, as well as effects it produces.
Appearance and size
For starters, indica generally tends to have shorter stature. The stems are thick and the leaves are broad and come in deep-green hue. Indica plants are stocky and compact, with buds that grow densely and cluster around the nodes. The buds are very heavy and have a striking fragrance.
The Cannabis indica plant usually grows short. Once the flowering cycle begins, indicas start to grow in height at a rapid pace. In fact, the factor by which indicas are likely to gain in their vegetated height during the flowering season is around 50-100%. That being said, when flowering in normal circumstances, they won’t be growing out of control.
Flowering cycle and effects
The reason why indica plants are short and wide is because of their short flowering cycle. This is why they’re often the species many choose to grow as it’s faster and easier, especially when it comes to colder climates. The variety takes around 45 to 60 days to flower.
Due to its relaxing properties, indica is said to be perfect for night-time use. This is mainly due to the fact that indica possesses lower concentrations of THC and higher ones of CBD. These features also make it ideal for pain relief. It provides a body high, with many cannabis users describing the state after taking indica as ‘being stoned’ due to its sedative effect.
What is sativa?
Coming from equatorial regions and warmer places such as Central and South America and Southeast Asia (Jamaica, Mexico, Thailand, southern India), the Cannabis sativa plant generally grows in areas with hotter climates. Thanks to this, the strain has a unique appearance and size, with the flowering cycle and effects being very different compared to those of indica strain.
Appearance and size
Compared to indica, the leaves of sativa plants tend to be thinner and narrower and come in light-green color. The buds are larger, and instead of clustering around the nodes like the buds on indica plants, they run along the branch’s length. The low density means the buds will weigh less when they dry out, with a fragrance that is less intense than that of indica buds.
Sativas grow very quickly, gaining anywhere from 200% to 300% in vegetative height. However, unlike Indicas, sativas do not have two separate stages of vegetating and blooming. They will grow and flower simultaneously when provided with optimal conditions, regardless of whether they’re being grown indoors or in their native environment.
Flowering cycle and effects
A slower flowering variety, sativas will require anywhere from 60 to 90 days to finish the flowering cycle. Although they take longer to flower, they take less time to finish their vegetative stage.
Generally described as the state of ‘being high’, the effects of sativa are seen as being uplifting, energizing, and stimulating in terms of creative flow. From the medical perspective, the effects of sativa can help with pain, depression, or anxiety.
Whether it’s being used for medicinal purposes such as fighting depression or enjoyed for its creative and uplifting properties, a high-quality sativa cannabis strain that’s been crafted with care will provide real results, especially if you manage to find the one that perfectly meets your needs. And, sativa happens to contain higher concentrations of THC, which makes it ideal for day time use.
Many of the strains you can find nowadays, especially those popular ones, are hybrids gained through the process of merging sativa and indica. Due to crossbreeding that took place in the past half a century, finding ‘pure’ indica or sativa is practically impossible, and even the strains that are classified as sativa or indica are usually hybrids.
So, instead of using the terms sativa and indica for marijuana strains, classifying the hybrid strains is now done by basing their names on the strain that happens to be the more dominant one. As a result, you can find sativa-dominant or sativa-dom strains, meaning the hybrid strain is leaning more towards sativa, and the same goes for hybrid strains that are named indica-dominant or indica-dom.
As the number of states legalizing marijuana use for both medicinal and recreational purposes continues to grow, so does the number of people interested in the effects certain types of marijuana can produce, most commonly indica and sativa varieties. The two have distinct characteristics in terms of size, appearance, flowering time, and effects. Familiarizing yourself with these properties will surely aid you in choosing the right strain for yourself, so you can enjoy the effects of cannabis, whether medicinal or recreational, to the fullest.