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Types Of Marijuana - Sativa, Indica and Ruderalis

Types Of Marijuana - Sativa, Indica and Ruderalis

All variations of Cannabis plants are not 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 species you ultimately choose to grow, it is a good idea to gain some basic knowledge of the variations and the differences between 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.

Looking to buy weed seeds in Australia?

Historical origins

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 strain 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.

cannabis sativa leaf

Sativa leaf

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. You are not going to get stoned from using this strain, but it does have an invigorating, pick me up kind of effect that leads to feeling happier, unlike its more sedating counterpart, Indica.

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 energizing and stimulating effect

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:

mood disorders

Get high quality  Sativa strains in my webshop

Growing Cannabis Sativa
Cannabis Sativa is a strain 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.

Cannabis Indica leaf

Indica leaf

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 an Indica plant 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.

Cannabis indica stoned feel

Indica gives a stoned feeling
Image by Sensiseeds

This weed is a stoner’s favorite since it is more like a sedative and puts your entire body into a deep state of relaxation. It has so much CBN in it that this will surely take you there when you want to go far and beyond just a regular high. It has lovely healing qualities, and helps with:

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

Get high quality Indica strains in my webshop

Growing Cannabis Indica
Cannabis Indica is a strain of 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.

Cannabis ruderalis

You will rarely hear anyone talking about Cannabis Ruderalis, which is one of the primary varieties and has a pretty short stature growing between 20-25 inches in height. Similar to Indica, this plant has very thick foliage. This plant is usually found growing in northern regions of the world.

Cannabis Runderalis leaf

Ruderalis leaf

Ruderalis has an extremely early and fast flowering cycle because it grows farther north than any other types of marijuana and so doesn’t have the luxury of a lot of time to mature before cold weather hits. Ruderalis is used to produce autoflowerers. Read more about autoflowering marijuana seeds.

One of the reasons you hear little about this strain is because it is not known to be highly psychotropic. It is used primarily as a source of additional genetic material by breeders and cultivators. That way, hybrids which flower early can be bred, and certain strains can be adjusted so that they will grow in more northerly climates.

Industrial hemp

Industrial hemp or hemp, typically found in the northern hemisphere, is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant 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.


Industrial hemp fields. Picture bij Aleks

Hemp was a cash crop in America until passage of the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act, partially because hemp can grow wild in climates where winter doesn't freeze the soil and kill the seeds. According to the USDA, hemp has a low THC content and isn't worth smoking. With THC levels below 0,3% I totally agree.

What are hybrids?

In modern cannabis cultivation and breeding, there are a huge number of varieties available. Many years of intense mixing and hybridization have created a huge spectrum across these three primary varieties.

hybrid plant cannabis

Hybrid plant cannabis

The different mixes all have different characteristics, running the gamut of possibilities relating to flowering cycles, yield, CBN:THC ratios, and disease resistance, among others. In general, the purpose of a hybrid plant is to combine positive characteristics from different strains together. Here are pictures of some famous hybrids

The key differences between Indica and Sativa are the height of the plants, the length between buds, the size and shape of the leaves, the odor, the quality of the smoke, and the chemical properties themselves. In general, Indica is wide and robust while Sativa is long and thin. More about hybrids in The Difference Between Indica, Sativa And Hybrid.

Growing Hybrids
Hybrids can vary greatly, but usually, they have some of the good qualities of both Sativas and Indicas. Because of the range of genes you can find in hybrid marijuana plants, it’s hard to specify a common height, leaf shape, or other distinguishing detail. However, hybrids are often bred to have higher yields and be more pest-resistant, which is great for growers. Hybrids are extremely popular. Most of the seeds available are hybrids. To know what you can expect, be sure to read the growth descriptions before buying.

Male cannabis plants

When male-sexed cannabis plants finish maturing, the flowering process occurs all across the plant. Tiny racemes (short flower stalks) are formed at the base of the flower itself. When the flowers open, the plant releases a load of airborne pollen which sticks to and is absorbed by the pistil of the female plant.

Male cannabis plant

Male plant

This is a basic explanation of how the fertilization and reproductive process in cannabis plants works. It can be difficult to distinguish between male and female plants at times, but the male usually has earlier sexual development.

Female cannabis plants

Like the male cannabis plants, mature females will also produce racemes. In the case of the female plants, the racemes are a blend of tiny pistils and calices (calyx). In each of the calices, there is an ovule, which acts as the receptor for the pollen from the male plant.

When the grains of pollen stick to a pistil, the pistil stalk then pushes into the calyx, and the plant is fertilized. The calyx itself is also the site where cannabis seeds are grown after fertilization.

Female weed plant

Female plant

Each seed will have a mix of characteristics coming from both parent plants, as in other instances of sexual reproduction. The only time this wouldn’t be the case would be if the parent plants were identical, as in the case of certain pure clones or specific hybridizations.

Hermaphrodite cannabis plants

Although rare as a natural occurrence in nature, many growers might be exposed to the existence of hermaphroditic plants, that is, plants which contain both male and female sex organs. These sorts of plants can fertilize themselves, which is both extremely interesting and potentially quite useful from a breeding perspective.

In general, a hermaphrodite cannabis plant falls on one of the three points along a sexual spectrum. If the plant is mainly comprised of male flowers or has a roughly equal number of male/female flowers, it is probably of little use to a grower. If the hermaphrodite has mainly female flowers, however, it should definitely be saved.

Hermaphrodite weed plant

Hermaphrodite plant

The pollen from these plants can be quite useful, and some growers collect the pollen because even though it is a male part of reproduction, the hermaphroditic pollen is genetically female, and will produce female flowers.

In the 70’s, Indica strains were brought to the USA and mixed with the already present Sativa plants, which set off a long chain of breeding and experimentation with cannabis cultivation and hybridization.

Tip: make sure to download my free Grow Bible for more information about types of marijuana

It’s important to note that despite the differences between all of these varieties of cannabis, they are essentially one species. They can still be bred together. The names Indica and Sativa refer to the areas where the plants are originally from.

The same sort of idea is found in other agriculture, or dog breeds, where there is a wide difference in appearances, but the species are still the same.

Types of marijuana seeds

There are few aspects of marijuana plants that are more important than the seeds. Everything begins with the seed, so you’d better make the seed count. In other words, you should carefully decide what type of seed you would like to buy. Let’s look at some of the options.

Regular seeds

Regular seeds are, just as they sound, the normal type of marijuana seed that most people have traditionally grown with. These seeds will come with approximately 50% male and 50% female, so you will have to diligent about removing the males if you are growing with regular seeds.

Feminized seeds

These seeds are ones that will only produce female plants. These aren’t naturally occurring -- they need to be created to get them to be all female (which is also a marijuana grower’s dream). Buying feminized seeds is the most efficient option for most marijuana growers.

Autoflower seeds

Seeds that autoflower are not photosensitive, instead they start to flower based on timing. In other words, they flower automatically. These can work really well for growing all year round, although it doesn’t make much sense for indoor growers who already can decide when they want their plants to begin flowering by manipulating the light cycle.


Many growers don’t want seeds in their plants at all, although there are always exceptions. It’s highly advised to keep grow rooms and male pollen as far apart as possible unless there is some express purpose for fertilizing the plants. The yield will drop substantially, and the taste of the plant will be ruined.

Sinsemilla cannabis plant

Sinsemilla plant

In general, it’s highly desirable to have unpollinated female plants, because more of the energy is devoted to producing cannabinoids and buds that are valuable to the grower, rather than being expended on sexual reproduction organs and seeds.

Unpollinated plants will have more sugar, THC, and much denser more odorous flowers. This is ideal, especially for medicinal purposes, where the efficiency is very important for any patients who are in need of the active ingredient.

What are THC and CBD?

You’ve likely heard of CBD and THC before. These two substances are the reason behind all the hype surrounding marijuana. There are some significant differences between the two of them, so let’s look at what each of them does.


The abbreviation “THC” stands for Tetrahydrocannabinol. It provides the psychoactive effects of marijuana, affecting the brain more than the body. Another substance, called anandamide, is mimicked by THC to make the brain function differently with memories, higher cognitive processes, and fine motorics.

It also affects pain, fertility, hunger, and depression. Plenty of people choose strains of marijuana that are high in THC for its medicinal benefits. More about THC in my article What is THC?


Cannabidiol, or CBD, is another psychoactive substance that is commonly used in medical marijuana. The two interact, with the CBD having an influential effect on the THC, meaning they could strengthen or weaken certain effects of THC. Suppressing the psychedelic effects, for example, can be a big plus in a medicinal strain of marijuana.

These are in no way the only two types of cannabinoids. The other ones, however, are only present in smaller amounts. More about CBD in my article What is CBD?

Thanks for reading. Please leave comments or questions below and don't forget to download my free grow bible


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Comment Section

39 thoughts on “Types Of Marijuana - Sativa, Indica and Ruderalis

By noneck52 on 15 July 2013

Cannabis Ruderalis , Is this the source for alaskan smoke ? Such as Matanuska TF ? Here in colorado we are moving fast . So does alaskan varities , correct ? Can northern strains be culivated with good results ? We are dying to know .

By Big K on 23 August 2018

I once crossed a white widow x blueberry sativa x ruderralis and i got a sexy 5'7"ish plants and a whopping 2.7 lbs of purple sticky reddish gooey buds. Not nine months but five and a half months.i fed them well with alaskan fish fertalizers and feather and bat guano. Nice fat little foot balls hanging every wheres. Now im stuck with some stupid crap that isnt growing to well. Ive been growing since i was 9 yrs old. I have two older brothers that grew massively atvone time or two south of coos bay , oregon. Back in the 50's/60's era.

By Pam Graf on 23 August 2018

Wow love this, you have put so much interesting information in layman's terms. It is the first article I have read that I can make since out of. Just wanted to say Thank You Thank you very much. And if you cant tell I am a newbie to growing

By noneck52 on 22 July 2013

I got it . Ruderalis , is not hemp only . Hardly . The strain has been perfected more each year . Auto flower , autofem , auto seed , mighty mite , snowstorm are the way to get it near you . It's the future . Embrace . I just located in CO some alaskan thunder . Magnificient ! Taste and density top notch . Covered in gold/red hairs . Looking forward to trying afganistan/ruderalis cross strain .

By rasta on 9 February 2015

i <3 cannabis

By Jord on 28 August 2015

I needed to send you that liltte word to thank you very much as before for these awesome suggestions you have discussed above. It has been really seriously generous of people like you to convey without restraint all a lot of people would have offered for sale for an ebook to help make some cash for their own end, particularly considering that you could have tried it if you desired. These thoughts likewise acted as a good way to understand that the rest have the identical dream similar to mine to find out a great deal more concerning this problem. I think there are several more fun sessions in the future for those who looked over your website.

By Johnny Ward on 3 September 2015

I ordered the boosters but I don't fully understand how to use them could you fully explain do I use 0.35 for every 2.5 galion of water in my tank help

By Jennifer ILGM on 3 September 2015

Hi Johnny, just mail our customer service at [email protected], they make sure you'll get the Booster schedules and answer your question.

By Art Naranjo on 8 January 2016

Sinsemilla is two Spanish words meaning without seeds (sin semilla).

By spunky on 19 May 2016

what kind would make u feel sexual arouse and don't smell like a skunk

By latewood.ILGM on 24 May 2016


Sorry. I really have not got a great answer for you. All good genetics are fairly pungent in smell when burned.

By Anoymous on 26 July 2016

What is the name of the the one that gets you hungr after smoking it

By Roy ILGM on 26 July 2016

Hey Anoymous, Indica is known for appetite stimulation AKA "The Munchies"

By Bilal Akbar on 18 May 2017

Hunger Attacks

By Artemis Rose on 23 October 2016

Thinking about these 3 different varieties of cannabis makes me say that God really makes a way to reach out to us. When the unique genetics of these three are combined, it creates a perfect marijuana strain to address all our health issues, and to suit our different environment. I enjoy learning more about marijuana.

By Michael Wirtschafter on 26 March 2017

Q: do you have an estimate on how many total species there are of cannibas? Mainly trying to get an idea of how strains/species of both sativas and indicas???

By Roy ILGM on 27 March 2017

Hi Michael, there's been so much breeding the last 30 years that it's gotten a bit out of hand haha. But I'd say there's about 2000-3000 know strains at the moment.

By Darren LeBlanc on 15 September 2018

Holy crap, when I started smoking in the late seventies there were only a handful of different strains and it was very exciting (and rare) when something new showed up on the scene.

By isaiah on 28 March 2017

i thank u for this information

By idan ben ruby on 30 April 2017

hey ! thanks for the ruderalis info! very interesting and informational. i was trying to find thc and cbd levels for cannabis ruderalis all te over the web.. is it possible to tell the avarage precentage of CBD and THC levels in cannabis ruderalis?
thank you!

By Roy ILGM on 1 May 2017

Hi Idan, all I know is that it's generally lower than Indica and Sativa. Other than that, grow methods determine a lot of the cntents too. – I❤️GM

By Tucker on 25 August 2017

Hi Robert ,
I have a few questions for you .
I was given 2 seeds last year from a friend. She told me they were from a strain called "Tange" or "Tangie". While in Durango Colorado, she had purchased a half-oz of Tange (Tangie) that had about 6 seeds. Both seeds germinated, but one was a male so I yanked it up. The other is maturing very well. Do you know if this strain is Sativa or Indica? What kind of high can I expect?

By Paul on 25 August 2017

If you want to know what kind of plants you have or genetics. You have from past how would you do that

By LarkSong on 25 August 2017

I've been reading about different strains in hopes of deciding which one to plant. I'm confused about one thing (so far!). When a description says, for example, "Flowering: 63 days," does it mean the plant will flower *at* 63 days or *for* 63 days?

By Avis N Kim on 3 September 2017

Are you able to clone clones?

By latewood_ILGM on 7 September 2017

Avis N Kim,

Of course. Once you take a cutting a root that cutting you have a clone that is the same genetic age as the mother plant you took the cutting from.

You can continue to take clone from that mother. C1, or flower the mother p[lant once the cutting has rooted into a clone.

I generally top a plant, and root that cutting. I allow the mother plant to veg. as I determine that the cutting has rooted into a clone. At that point I can flower the mother plant, and allow the new clone to veg for a few weeks when I would top her again and root, and so on, etc...etc.

By Merry jenn on 30 January 2018

Q: can you clone female auto-flowering strains, in particular afghan-indica-lowryder ruderalis hybrids?

By Nancy Hasselquist on 11 March 2018


By Jeff Gideon on 24 April 2018

Good neighboring Robert. Your willingness to share understanding you have is noticeable and appreciated. I am glad you get to do what you love and share the love so far and wide. Cannabis is acceptable now in a way it has not recently been. We do have cause for celebration and the sound of gladness is growing stronger. You are offering help at your own expense and that is a wonderful share!

By Statefarm on 23 August 2018

Is it really as simple as breeding a Ruderalis plant with indica or sativa plant to have auto flower seeds or is there more to it. I'm asking cause I have tons of hemp seeds that I share with farmers and would like to put more use to them

By latewood_ILGM on 23 August 2018


No, it is not that simple. You don't use hemp seeds to breed auto flower genetics. You breed Ruderalis and a photo strain.

By ma dvd on 20 September 2018

i love this so much;;;i hope it will be regalized soon in my home land Kenya;

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