What’s the difference between Indica and Sativa?

What’s the difference between Indica and Sativa?

One of the many beautiful things about the Cannabis plant is that it comes in many different types of weed plants. Not one marijuana type is exactly the same, and they also come in both the male and female variety. Some are tall and skinny, others are short and stout, and still, others are much smaller.

The Cannabis plant is also known for its dioecious nature, meaning that it forms into distinct colonies of male and female plants. This is one of the reasons growers develop issues with male plants invading a grow room. In addition to male and female plants, growers and cultivators are likely to run into (and create!) hermaphroditic and androgynous plants.

Whichever type of marijuana you ultimately choose to grow, it is a good idea to gain some basic knowledge of the variations and the differences between the different species, as well as male and female plants. You’ll also want to understand the reasons why you’d want to separate them.

When you know these things, you can make the best decision for your own growing habits. In this article, we will cover the three species of cannabis, the role of gender in growing as well as hybrid breeds and hermaphrodites.

Historical origins of marijuana types

There is actually no official scientific evidence that explains the differences between Indica and Sativa strains of marijuana or even confirms that these differences exist. Nonetheless, they are widely accepted facts among the marijuana growing and using crowd.

There are some historical explanations for the beginnings of the Indica strain, also known as Cannabis Indica. It was first classified by Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, a French biologist, in the late 1700s. He also identified the fact that the plants were intoxicating. It was different from the regular hemp crops grown in Europe at the time, as they did not intoxicate the consumer.

Because of the differences between the European hemp crops (then actually known as Cannabis Sativa), Lamarck named his Indian discovery Cannabis Indica to establish its uniqueness from the European hemp. It was considered a therapeutic remedy of sorts in Europe during the 1800s and commonly used in Western medicine.

Cannabis Sativa

Sativa is the marijuana type that people seem to like smoking the most. This plant grows quite large, reaching up to 15 feet in some cases. While it is not a really thick plant, many growers like it due to how tall it can grow.

Their leaves are long, dainty, narrow, and considering their height potential, these are perfect for outdoor growing.  The seeds are soft to the touch, with no spots or markings on them. Do not expect this plant to flower quickly because Sativa takes its precious time, and even shifting the light cycles could have little effect on this.

Sativa is usually found below a latitude of 30° N, in places like India, Thailand, Nigeria, Mexico, and Colombia.

Sativa is often dried, cooked and consumed. While many people either vaporize or smoke this strain, it is the norm for users to use this to get high.

It also can enhance your creativity, depending on the person. This is the strain you use when you want to be up and active during the day since it raises your energy and opens you up to fresh, new ideas. If you are an artist of some sort, you may love this one. Sativa is known for a high ratio of THC to CBN the two primary active ingredients in cannabis.

Sativa gives an energizing and stimulating effect Image by Sensiseeds

Sativa dominant strains are higher in the THC cannabinoid. This makes it less likely to be used for medicinal purposes, but it is still common in Ayurvedic medicine. They also work well to combat the symptoms of:

  • Depression
  • ADHD
  • Fatigue
  • Mood disorders

Growing Cannabis Sativa

Cannabis Sativa is a type of marijuana that typically flowers for longer, has lower yields than Cannabis Indica, and has characteristically long thin leaves. They’re taller plants in general since they come from a region near the equator, which has longer summers (which is also why their flowering period naturally lasts longer).

A good thing about growing Cannabis Sativa is that the vegetative phase is shorter. There are even some Sativas out there bred to have shorter flowering phases. If you’re from a hotter climate or have trouble keeping your grow room temperatures down, then a Sativa might be for you — they can take high temperatures better than Indicas.

Cannabis Indica

Cannabis Indica is a more solid strain in comparison to Sativa, but it does not have the height Sativa achieves. Indica strains generally grow between 3 to 6 feet tall (1 to 2 meters. It is a bushy plant with round healthy leaves, unlike Sativa. However, they both have marbled colored, soft seeds. Being that Indica is a short plant, this one is perfect for indoor growing.

While Sativa takes some time to flower, Indica flowers much faster and can be influenced a lot easier by adjusting the light cycle to promote this phase. It is most commonly found above 30° N, in countries like Nepal, Lebanon, Morocco, and Afghanistan.

The buds and flowers on Indica dominant strains will usually grow very close to each other and are stickier to the touch than Sativa plants. When you want to make hashish, Indica is the plant you would choose due to the amount of resin it contains. That said, it is important to note that little scientific evidence backs these ideas. There are far more variations within the indica vs. sativa categorization, and many scientists believe that we should not generalize the psychoactive and other effects of different strains.

Cannabis Indica has lovely healing qualities, and helps with:

  • Insomnia
  • Alleviating pain
  • Inducing relaxation of muscles
  • Muscle spasms
  • Calming anxiety
  • Headache and migraine relief

Growing Cannabis Indica

Cannabis Indica is a strain of medical marijuana that is typically higher yielding, has a shorter flowering time, and has leaves that are shorter and wider than a Sativa’s. They’re smaller plants in general, but they can get quite bushy. Lots of growers prefer growing Indicas for these reasons.

Because of their shorter flowering phase, people who grow in colder climates with shorter winters may want to grow Indicas. Because of their shorter height, growing them indoors is also easy when it comes to growing Indicas.

Industrial hemp marijuana types

Industrial hemp or hemp, typically found in the northern hemisphere, is a type of marijuana originating from the Cannabis Sativa species that is grown specifically for the industrial uses of its derived products. It is one of the fastest growing plants and was one of the first plants to be spun into usable fiber 10,000 years ago.

It can be refined into a variety of commercial items including paper, textiles, clothing, biodegradable plastics, paint, insulation, biofuel, food, and animal feed.

What Determines Sativa or Indica?

Readers have already learned that the sometimes pungent aromas produced by many strains of cannabis are the result of terpenes, the special molecules in the herb that are similar in many respects to cannabinoids like THC and CBD.

While many might guess that a particular strain of cannabis is categorized as indica, sativa, or hybrid based on the presence or absence of a particular cannabinoid, or a cannabinoid in a particular volume, it is actually a terpene that determines this important status of a strain.

Myrcene, the most common terpene in cannabis, is known to help patients sleep, battling conditions like anxiety and insomnia. If present in a specific strain in a volume greater than 0.5 percent, the strain is considered an indica. If the amount of myrcene is under one half of one percent, then the strain is deemed a sativa.

This dynamic is a good example of the entourage effect, a theory that cannabinoids and terpenes work together in harmony to deliver medicinal efficacy to patients. Many terpenes buffer or enhance the effects of major cannabinoids like THC.

Physical differences between strains

Botanists use physical differences — such as variations in height, branching patterns, and the shape of the leaves — to identify different strains of plants. This is where the names “indica” and “sativa” come from.

Indica plants are shorter than sativa plants, and they have a woody stalk, not a fibrous one. Indica plants also grow more quickly than sativa plants.

There is some disagreement regarding what caused these physical differences between strains. Some researchers say that these differences are due to humans breeding different varieties, while others say that a mixture of evolving adaptations and geographic isolation is responsible.

What Determines Sativa or Indica?

Readers have already learned that the sometimes pungent aromas produced by many strains of cannabis are the result of terpenes, the special molecules in the herb that are similar in many respects to cannabinoids like THC and CBD.

While many might guess that a particular strain of cannabis is categorized as indica, sativa, or hybrid based on the presence or absence of a particular cannabinoid, or a cannabinoid in a particular volume, it is actually a terpene that determines this important status of a strain.

Myrcene, the most common terpene in cannabis, is known to help patients sleep, battling conditions like anxiety and insomnia. If present in a specific strain in a volume greater than 0.5 percent, the strain is considered an indica. If the amount of myrcene is under one half of one percent, then the strain is deemed a sativa.

This dynamic is a good example of the entourage effect, a theory that cannabinoids and terpenes work together in harmony to deliver medicinal efficacy to patients. Many terpenes buffer or enhance the effects of major cannabinoids like THC.

Physical differences between strains

Botanists use physical differences — such as variations in height, branching patterns, and the shape of the leaves — to identify different strains of plants. This is where the names “indica” and “sativa” come from.

Indica plants are shorter than sativa plants, and they have a woody stalk, not a fibrous one. Indica plants also grow more quickly than sativa plants.

There is some disagreement regarding what caused these physical differences between strains. Some researchers say that these differences are due to humans breeding different varieties, while others say that a mixture of evolving adaptations and geographic isolation is responsible.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that sativa is more energizing and indica is more relaxing, but the scientific reality is far more complicated. In fact, many different chemical compounds are involved in creating the medical and recreational effects of cannabis.

Although there may be some truth to the differences between the two plants, it is important for a person to look at the biochemical content of the individual strains in order to choose the strain most suited to their needs.

Even within the specific strains, research has proven that there is a huge possible variation in THC content, which suggests that the same is true for other cannabinoids.

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