Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica are the two most widely known and cultivated species of the Cannabis L. genus. Scientifically speaking, they are very similar - their core genetics are shared and they can be easily interbred to produce new hybrid strains. Yet, they differ quit a bit when it comes to their growth properties and psychoactive effects.
Cannabis sativa is growing wild in countries that lie between 30 degrees north and 30 degrees south of the equator. Columbia, Mexico, Jamaica as well as Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries have given rise to potent and sought-after sativa strains.
Cannabis indica has its roots in the sub-tropical areas of the world. As the name suggest, cannabis indica was first described based on plants found India. Originating close to the Hindu Kush mountain range, that‘s where the stage for many of the „Kush“-strains was set. Indica plants come from the regions of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Morocco and Lebanon – all countries quite renowned for producing much sought-after cannabis, and specially hash.
Properties of Sativa vs Indica
Owing to their geographical environment, both sativa and indica strains have developed unique plant properties. One of the most striking features of cannabis sativa is its humongous, tree-like growth. This is down to the way it has evolved. Due to most wild strains originating form equatorial regions, cannabis sativa has learned to make the most of the shorter, but regular, periods of light the equator receives. It has resulted in a plant that continues to grow at every opportunity, continuing to stretch up towards the sun well into its flowering phase. This results in a tower like structure with elongated, elegant and airy buds that stretch up the branch.
It is also why they have characteristically long and thin “finger” like leaves – to reach out for as much light as possible. Due to their much larger size, sativa strains tend to produce more bud sites than indicas, creating huge yields; but the flip side of this is that the large growth takes time, meaning sativas also take a lot longer to flower.
Indica plants, on the other hand, grow a lot more squat and compact, somewhat bush-like. This is because in its natural habitat, there is less of a fight for sunlight - it‘s not as dense as in the equatorial jungles, so there has been no evolutionary need for the indica strains to stretch towards the sun. This has resulted in cannabis plants that grow short in stature, and bush outwards to form a christmas tree like shape. Their buds are also a lot more compact than their sativa counterpart, and the flowering time of an indica is generally much quicker. It is this, combined with compact growth, that makes them so popular with cash croppers – you can grow more in a small area and they will produce flowers much faster.
High vs. stoned
Both sativa and indica strains make for some potent medicine. But their highs are quiet different, giving each its place in the stash of the connoisseur. The sativa high is often described as a strong cerebral and energetic buzz. It‘s an uplifting social high, inspiring creative ideas and outbursts of laughter. Ideal for daytime use, many recreational users seek out the sativa high - it is partly why breeders have focuses many years on boosting the THC content.
The indica high is somewhat the opposite of the sativa high - indicas get you stoned. The effect is a physical, body-centered sedation, versus the heady buzz of the sativa. A stronger dose will make for a good couchlock, numbing you into a profound relaxation. Perfect for the evening unwind, indica calm you down from stress and relief the mood. Medical users are particularly looking into indica strains because of its relaxing qualities. When using cannabis to restore health, rest is a very important part of the process, and indicas are the strain of choice to put you to bed.
In today's market you will find that most strains are hybrids, a mix of both sativa and indica, though they will often have one dominate over the other.