Sativa vs Indica Marijuana Plants: What's The Difference?
It might strike you are a surprise, but the reality is that there are more than a thousand strains of cannabis plants. Each variety holds different characteristics that make them appropriate for some diseases or conditions and not others.
However, among the different strains, the Sativa and Indica strains are the best-known subspecies. Whether you are a “connoisseur” of the cannabis world or not, chances are high that you’ve already heard these two strains. But no matter how much the debate comes up in conversation, many people are still confused about their difference.
The majority wouldn’t be able to set them apart. While this might not sound like something you’d do as well, it is still relevant to be familiar with what to expect from each strain. For this reason, we put together this essential guide on Indica vs Sativa marijuana plants. Just so that next time you’ll need this knowledge, or it comes up in conversation, you’ll have a clear idea of their differences and characteristics.
Keep reading to find out what’s the difference between Indica and Sativa cannabis plants. Also, we will dig into why knowing the difference matters so much.
Sativa vs Indica Marijuana Plants: What's The Difference?
Before we get into the actual differences, you should know that the debate of Sativa VS Indica is an old one. For centuries, humans have been using plants and natural elements for recreation and health. And for just as long, people have cultivated them, where possible. Indeed, the word “Sativa” means “cultivated”, dating back to the 1750s, when it indicated those cannabis plants grown across Europe.
On the other hand, the name “Indica” refers to its Indian origins. Many eastern Asia regions have a long history of cultivation for cannabis’ fiber and seed.
But the distinction between the two cannabis plants has to do with their cannabinoid ratios and differences in the “high” it produces, as well as the physical structure of the plants. The Sativa strain is often associated with a “cerebral rush,” while the Indica strain has the opposite, which results in a “body high.” Overall, it is common to think of Indica as giving you a “sedating high,” while the Sativa strains tends to be more energizing.
Now let’s dig deeper into the physical differences and the effects of these two cannabis plants.
The Indica Strain
Indica plants are short, conical in shape, and with wide leaves that tend to be darker in color than the Sativa’s. Their structure and growth cycle have to do with their origin. Because of the cold and short winters in the mountainous regions in Nepal and India, the plant flowers for little time and has dense foliage.
Also, to protect themselves from the harsh environment, Indica strain plants produce thick THC resin. Plus, they naturally have high CBD levels, making Indica plants suitable for pain-killing uses and relaxation. Their small size and their high flowering speed have their benefits. Indica plants can give multiple harvests in little time and are suited for indoor cultivation. They produce thick buds that differ from the light, long, and thin buds typical of Sativa plants.
As mentioned, Indica’s effects have to do with relaxation, pain relief, and sleep aid, making it best for nighttime use. In terms of flavor, pure Indica buds have a sweet and rich fruity taste.
The Sativa Strain
Sativa plants are tall, with narrow leaves. They are native to warm climates, with long, humid, and hot summers, which explains their narrow leaves. Indeed, the narrow lives and height protect the plant against pests and humidity. This also makes them best for outdoor growing, especially in warm climates.
The Sativa strain is associated with enhanced productivity and creativity. Some also experience increased energy and euphoria. The downside is that Sativa plants need more time to grow and tend to not produce as much as Indicas. In terms of taste, you can expect earthy flavors from this plant.
Hybrid strains seem to be dominating the market of cannabis plants nowadays. Most of the varieties you are likely to encounter have both Sativa and Indica genes.
The good news is that their concentration of cannabinoids can be manipulated so that you can get all the effects you want, as long as you get it from the proper cultivator. They can be sold as seeds or marijuana clones and can be purchased from local nurseries, cultivators and some dispensaries.
However, hybrids are difficult to “label,” meaning that it’s hard to know what to expect from them in terms of effects. Also, components such as cannabinoids and terpenes (responsible for weed’s distinctive flavor and smell) might interact with each other differently. So, you can expect varying effects, even with the same strain.
While the whole hybrid strains market might have contributed to making things more complicated, the market is evolving, and now the practice of labeling hybrids is becoming the norm. If you have a good idea of what effects you are looking for, you can buy the appropriate strain to produce them for you.
The Bottom Line
As you might guess, there’s much more about these two cannabis plants than the mere physical difference. The notable variation in the effects they stimulate is something you must know, especially when looking for special experiences or needing some effects in particular.
While a connoisseur might know how to distinguish Sativa from Indica from taste alone, that is not true for most of us. For this reason, some knowledge about what to expect from each strain is necessary. However, keep in mind that cannabis plants contain more than 100 different terpenes, aromatic compounds that seem to produce several effects. Their combination changes depending on the strain, with varied results.
So, all in all, cannabis plants are much more complex than you may think. But the truth is that their complexity also plays a role in their appeal and numerous applications. While the rise of hybrids results in a whole new range of effects in various dosages, the differentiation between Indica and Sativa is still something you need to be aware of, as a simple categorization.