More often than not, you’ve heard different cannabis strains described as either indica or sativa, with the former being the “in-the-couch” variety, whereas sativas are your “energetic” high. If your conversation includes those that are more enthusiastic about the plant, you may hear a little about ruderalis or autoflowers. These denote a type of cannabis that originated in the eastern part of the world.
- Cannabis indica
- Cannabis sativa
- Cannabis ruderalis
- Hybrid weed
- Grow differences: indica vs. sativa
- Do the terms indica and sativa still matter?
In this article, when I say “variety” or “types” of cannabis, I’m referring to these three groups as subspecies of the cannabis plant. Subspecies are a classification within the “species” classification. That means they’re within the same species but carry significantly different physical traits. We’ll walk through and break down each of these subspecies and give you the context behind them historically and effect-wise, as well as their unique characteristics.
ILGM has seeds on offer regularly! Sign up below to stay posted on the latest deals.
In scientific terms, Cannabis indica is the subspecies of cannabis that mainly produces THC. Indica plants are typically shorter and bushier compared to their sativa counterparts. They have broad, dark green leaves and dense foliage. Indica strains are known for their relaxing and sedating effects, often described as a “body high.”
Indica cannabis strains generally have a higher CBD content and lower THC levels than sativa strains. This composition contributes to the more calming and physical effects associated with indica varieties. You can generally notice the differences in the plant; the leaves are broad for indica and narrow for sativa.
History of cannabis indica
The history of Cannabis indica dates back thousands of years. It is believed to have originated in the Hindu Kush region, which spans parts of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. Indigenous communities in these areas have a long-standing tradition of utilizing Cannabis indica for various purposes. Historically, it was primarily cultivated for its resin, which contains cannabinoids and terpenes with medicinal properties. These countries would primarily harvest the trichomes from the plants by making hashish.
The Chinese recognized the plant’s therapeutic properties and incorporated it into their traditional medicine practices. Cannabis addressed a wide range of illnesses and discomforts, including pain relief, inflammation reduction, and digestive issues. The Chinese also employed cannabis for its potential calming and sedative effects, making it beneficial for conditions related to anxiety and insomnia.
In 1785 a French botanist, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, was given a cannabis strain from India. It had so many distinctly different features from Cannabis sativa that he felt compelled to coin the terminology Cannabis Indica.
Recognizing an indica plant
Here are some key traits and needs of indica plants:
- Flowering time: Indica cultivars generally have a shorter flowering time than sativa cultivars, making them attractive to growers seeking more or faster harvests. They typically take 8-9 weeks during flower to mature fully.
- Odor and terpene profile: Indica plants can emit a diverse range of aromas, including earthy, musky, or sweet scents. The terpene profile of indica cultivars contributes to their distinct fragrance and potential therapeutic properties.
- Physical attributes: Indica marijuana strains are known to have a broader leaf structure and a shorter height than their sativa counterparts.
- Climate and growing conditions: Indica plants have broader adaptability to various climates and growing conditions, making them suitable for indoor and outdoor cultivation. They can thrive in cooler temperatures and naturally resist certain pests and diseases. They also thrive on shorter amounts of sunlight during flower than other cannabis varieties.
Shop Indica Seeds
- Grow strong bushy indicas
- For a relaxing couch lock
- Feminized and autoflowers seeds
Effects of consuming indica
Indica cultivars are known for their distinct effects, providing a relaxing and soothing experience. When consuming Indica, individuals often feel deep relaxation and calmness, sometimes described as a “body high.” This relaxation can be so profound that it may lead to a sensation commonly called “couch lock.” This effect describes a feeling of being comfortably settled and less inclined to engage in physical activities. While not present in all indica cultivars, appetite stimulation is a commonly associated effect of this subspecies.
Indica cultivars are often associated with their potential to induce sleepiness or a sense of drowsiness. This effect is due to specific compounds, such as certain terpenes and cannabinoids, including myrcene and various cannabinoids, which are believed to contribute to the sedating effects. These compounds interact with receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system, promoting relaxation and potentially aiding in sleep.
Popular indica cultivars
People often wonder about “pure” indica or sativa cultivars and whether they’ll be able to find them. The short answer is yes, ILGM carries indica seeds like Pure indica, Afghan, and Hindu Kush, which carry very strong indica genetics.
The longer answer is that, with breeding and the propagation of different genetics, “pure” sativas and indicas are either a rarity or don’t exist anymore. Landrace genetics are the closest thing to “pure” that exists. In terms of the “strongest indica,” a cultivar called “Crippy” seems to have been pheno hunted in Hawaii, brought to Florida by surfers, and became the legendary OG Kush. Crippy is supposedly so potent that its effects and potency rival any cannabis extract or concentrate!
In scientific terms, Cannabis sativa is the subspecies of cannabis commonly recognized as hemp, but modern-day terms categorize sativa based on the effects it gives when consuming it. The term “sativa” comes from the Latin word sativum, meaning cultivated. Sativa plants typically exhibit taller and more elongated growth patterns than their indica counterparts. They have narrow, light green leaves and plenty of space between stalks and leaves.
Sativa cultivars are renowned for their uplifting and energizing effects, often described as a “head high.” Sativa cultivars generally have high levels of THC and produce long, narrow, trichome-covered nugs. This composition contributes to the more stimulating and psychoactive effects associated with sativa varieties. One noticeable distinction between the two subspecies is the leaf shape, with sativa leaves being narrow compared to the broad leaves of indica.
History of cannabis sativa
Originating in equatorial regions like Southeast Asia, Central America, and Africa, native residents cultivated sativa for thousands of years. We know where these different strains came from due to the different names of landrace cultivars, including Acapulco Gold, Colombian Gold, Panama Red, Thai, and Durban Poison. Sativa cultivars played a vital role in various cultures, serving purposes ranging from fiber production to traditional medicine. Sativa’s versatile properties and ability to thrive in diverse climates led to widespread cultivation and trade across different civilizations.
In various cultures, cannabis helped promote blood circulation and improve overall well-being. Sativa was also used in Ayurvedic medicines (the traditional Hindu system of medicine).
In 1753, the renowned Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus, known as the father of binomial nomenclature (scientific naming conventions), gave the name Cannabis Sativa to the plant. At the time, Linnaeus encountered various hemp varieties and classified them collectively as cannabis sativa.
Later, the distinction between indica and sativa was established through the work of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck. Lamarck’s contribution brought clarity to the classification, delineating the two subspecies.
Buy Sativa Seeds
- Grow beautiful sativas
- Give an energizing buzz
- Feminized and autoflower seeds
Recognizing a sativa plant
Here are some key traits and needs of sativa cannabis plants:
- Flowering time: sativa cultivars generally have a longer flowering time than indica cultivars. They typically require around 10-16 weeks to fully mature and develop their buds during the flowering stage. This longer flowering period is important to consider when planning cultivation timelines.
- Odor and terpene profile: sativa plants can exhibit a wide range of aromatic profiles, with scents ranging from fruity and citrusy to spicy and floral. The terpene profile of sativa cultivars contributes to their distinct fragrance, which can vary greatly between different cultivars.
- Physical attributes: sativa plants tend to have a narrow leaf structure and can reach significant heights compared to indica varieties. They often exhibit elongated branches and sparse foliage, allowing for better light penetration and air circulation.
- Climate and growing conditions: sativa plants are typically better suited for warmer, tropical climates and thrive in regions with longer summers and abundant sunlight. They require a longer period of vegetative growth and can benefit from higher light intensity during both the vegetative and flowering stages. Indoor growers may need extra space to accommodate these plants.
Effects of consuming sativa
Consuming sativa cannabis is often associated with an invigorating and uplifting high. The effects of a sativa cultivar can vary between individuals, but generally, it tends to produce a cerebral and energetic experience. Rather than inducing drowsiness, sativa cultivars are known for their potential to provide a more uplifting and stimulating effect. The characteristic energizing properties of sativa cultivars can be attributed to the presence of certain cannabinoids and terpenes, which contribute to increased focus, creativity, and a sense of well-being. While cannabis cultivars can affect appetite differently from person to person, sativa cultivars are less commonly associated with intense hunger or the “munchies” effect, probably due to higher amounts of THCV present in sativas.
Popular sativa cultivars
Although there aren’t necessarily any “pure” landraces, there are sativa weed strains with close ties to a landrace ancestor. Durban Poison is a seed stock that originated in South Africa. Not only does ILGM carry this powerful sativa; we also carry one of its descendants, the ever-so-famous Girl Scout Cookies. The strongest known sativa is Original Haze, and it is a unique sativa to cultivate. Some versions can take as long as 120 days to complete their flower cycle.
Cannabis ruderalis is an interesting subspecies of the cannabis plant with unique characteristics that set it apart from Indica and Sativa varieties. Although we’ve covered detailed articles about cannabis ruderalis, let’s take a fresh and condensed look at its history, plant traits, and usage.
Cannabis Ruderalis originates in regions with harsh climates, such as Siberia and Eastern Europe. Russian botanist Dmitri Yanischewski initially discovered ruderalis growing wild in these areas, adapting to survive in challenging environments. Over time, breeders and enthusiasts recognized its distinct auto-flowering trait, leading to autoflowering cultivars’ development.
Ruderalis plants are typically smaller than Indica and Sativa varieties, reaching heights of 1 to 2.5 feet (30 to 75 cm). They have slender leaves and sparse foliage, allowing for better light penetration. One of the key features of Ruderalis is its ability to flower regardless of light exposure, meaning it transitions from the vegetative stage to the flowering stage based on age rather than light cycles. This unique trait has revolutionized cannabis cultivation, enabling faster and more flexible harvests.
Buy Autoflower Seeds
- For new and experienced growers
- Easy-growing, low maintenance
- All popular cultivars
While Ruderalis cultivars are not as well-known for their recreational potency due to their low THC content, they play a crucial role in breeding autoflower cultivars. By incorporating ruderalis genetics, breeders can create hybrids that lack photosensitivity when changing from vegetative phases to flower.
Initially considered novel and lacking quality, these autoflower cultivars have gained popularity among growers seeking quicker harvests and greater flexibility in cultivation. All this to say, ruderalis isn’t necessarily a staple in anyone’s garden aside from breeders looking to make autoflowering varietals.
Recognizing a ruderalis plant
Ruderalis plants are short and squat, usually never growing taller than 2.50 feet (0.76 meters). Their leaves are more sparse than their sativa and indica counterparts and can usually be denoted as having fewer “blades” than other subspecies of cannabis.
Effects of cannabis ruderalis
Due to their high-CBD and low-THC nature, ruderalis plants are touted for their anti-inflammatory and anti-epilepsy qualities. Smoking cannabis ruderalis is described as calming and relaxing but not very strong in the psychoactive department. However, few people would consider consuming ruderalis flowers due to their limited availability and the small size of their flowers.
Hybrid cannabis is a term that popped up when growers began crossing varietals to find new traits in their cannabis plants. Most of the cannabis these days are hybrids. Hybrid strains can possess qualities inherited from indica and sativa lineages, such as a balance between relaxing and uplifting effects.
History of hybrid weed
Many believe Skunk #1 was the first hybrid cannabis with seeds for public consumption. Sacred Seeds, a collective of growers in Northern California, take the credit for bringing the first hybrid seeds into commercial production in the mid-1970s. The cultivar crosses Afghani, Colombian Gold, and Alcapulco Gold to make the powerful musky smell of Skunk #1.
I mentioned that most of the cannabis available today are hybrids, and that’s due to growers looking for plants that have a heavy yield, a short flower time, and are easy to train. If growers only had access to landraces, there wouldn’t be as many varieties with different traits. We’d all have Alcapulco Gold, Panama Red, and Durban Poison!
Cannabis is dioecious, which means it has male and female reproductive organs on separate plants. When it comes to cultivation, growers tend to focus on female plants because they produce the buds we all know and love. Males, on the other hand, produce pollen which can be used on a female plant to create seeds.
When you grow a seed, you have an even likelihood of getting a male or a female plant. Breeders will look for certain characteristics in a plant to breed with and create new hybrid cultivars to exhibit those desirable traits along with different effects, sizes, smells, flowering times, and anything else a breeder may be interested in passing on to a plant.
What is F1 F2 F3 S1, etc?
When you look into breeding definitions, you’ll see a lot of letters and numbers… what do they mean?
F1’s, F2’s, and F3’s denote familial generations, which are generations of offspring from controlled reproduction. Say that you have a Cultivar X and Cultivar Y; these two would be considered F1’s. Their offspring would be regarded as F2’s, a hybrid of its first-generation parents. Crossing that hybrid with one of the F1 Cultivars would produce your F3 generation.
On the other hand, S1 refers to the first generation of offspring resulting from self-pollination or selfing. In this process, a female plant is pollinated with its own pollen, producing genetically identical or very similar seeds to the parent plant. Selfed plants also produce feminized seeds, meaning that all of its seeds will produce female plants. S1’s are often used for stabilizing desired traits, allowing breeders to isolate and propagate specific characteristics from a single source.
This ‘stabilizing’ ensures that the traits the breeder selects for are also present in future generations of that specific cultivar.
Grow differences: indica vs. sativa
When it comes to growing cannabis, indica and sativa plants have notable differences:
- Indicas are generally easier to cultivate due to their shorter flowering time and compact size, while sativas can be more challenging with their longer flowering period and taller structure.
- Indicas tend to produce denser buds, while sativas are known for potentially higher yields.
- Indicas prefer slightly cooler temperatures, while sativas thrive in slightly warmer conditions.
These factors should be considered when developing your cultivation area or deciding which genetics to grow.
Do the terms indica and sativa still matter?
The categorization of cannabis cultivars into indica and sativa has been a long-standing practice in the industry. Still, there is an ongoing debate about the validity and relevance of these terms. While indica and sativa have historically described plant morphology and effects, science has shown more and more that these distinctions are not consistently accurate.
Many modern cannabis cultivars are hybridized, resulting from extensive crossbreeding and genetic manipulation. As a result, the effects of a cultivar cannot be reliably predicted solely based on its classification as indica or sativa. The terpene profile and cannabinoid content are more significant in determining a particular cultivar’s effects and therapeutic potential.
A better approach to categorizing cannabis is to focus on the chemical composition (also known as a chemotype) and specific properties of individual cultivars. The cannabinoid profile, which includes THC, CBD, CBN, CBG, and other cannabinoids, along with the terpene profile, are key factors contributing to a cultivar’s effects.
These properties work together to produce what’s known as “The Entourage Effect.” This effect explains why it’s best to consume the full spectrum of the cannabis plant’s chemical compounds together to gain its benefits and effects.
By understanding the unique combination of cannabinoids and terpenes in a cultivar, consumers can make more informed choices based on their desired outcomes, whether relaxation, pain relief, or creativity. Additionally, considering these compounds’ specific ratios and concentrations allows for a more precise understanding of the cultivar’s potential benefits and effects rather than relying solely on broad categories such as indica or sativa.