Have you found yourself asking indica or sativa? Which one do I get? What’s the difference? Weed is weed, right? Not quite. Each plant has a different set of characteristics and effects, understanding the difference between the two will help you find that perfect strain.
Many users report that the flower of sativa and indica cannabis plants each have their own distinct effects on the mind and body; sativas tend to give you a more energizing experience, while indicas tend to make you more relaxed.
While these broad classifications do have some validity, this is not entirely correct. The words “sativa” and “indica” refer to the physical and geographic characteristics of the cannabis plant, rather than the effects the flower provides.
In this post we will explore what makes a cannabis plant an indica or a sativa, and what is actually making you fall in love with a certain strain.
Cannabis sativa was discovered by Western society before indica, and was thought to be the only species of cannabis. Sativa originates from areas between the 0° and 30° latitudes specifically Mexico, Columbia, Thailand and Southeast Asia. Because of the warmer temperature in these regions, cannabis sativa evolved to be tall and lanky to conserve water. Sativa plants can now be found all over the world, but tend to grow in warmer environments that mimic their original home.
In 1785 Western explorers encountered the cannabis indica plant and named the plant after the location the plants were found – India. Cannabis indica evolved in the Kush Mountains of northern India and grew in the 30° and 50° latitudes. Like sativa, indica can now be found in most corners of the world.
Growth and Physical Characteristics
Indica plants tend to grow to about 3-6 feet tall and are ideal for growing indoors. The flowering time for indica is much faster than sativa at 6-8 weeks, making it a more popular plant among hobby growers.
Sativa plants can grow up to 20 feet tall. Many growers like to mix the plants, creating hybrids to tame the height. They are also the longest flowering species, taking 10-16 weeks to flower.
You can easily tell the difference between indica and sativa by the shape of their leaves. Indica leaves are deep in color and broad, while sativa leaves are lighter in color with slender leaves.
As we mentioned above, many users associate indicas and sativas with their own unique effects. The classic school of thought is that indicas tends to be more relaxing and used at night, while sativas are energizing and are usually recommended for daytime use.
The reason why a strain makes you feel a certain way, however, has more to do with the strain’s terpene profile than its indica or sativa classification. Terpenes are botanical compounds that are found in everything from pepper to lavender to hops.
Terpenes are the reason why lavender is soothing, why spicy scents can wake you up, and why that IPA beer that’s full of hops makes you sleepy. The same principles apply to cannabis! You can check out our blog post on terpenes to learn more on this subject.
Next time you’re shopping for cannabis don’t fall into the indica or sativa trap. Try something new! Tell your budtender why you want to use cannabis, and then ask what terpene profile would be best for your desired effects. You might just find your new favorite strain!