Cannabis Indica, Sativa, Ruderalis, and Hybrids

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 male and female varieties. Some cannabis strains 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 cannabis strains, 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.

How many types of weed are there?

Although technically, these are cannabis plant species, there are 3 types of weed:

  • Cannabis Sativa
  • Cannabis Indica
  • Cannabis Ruderalis

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 have widely accepted facts in cannabis circles.

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 ruderalis and Cannabis indica are all linked to Cannabis sativa L., the original tropical phenotype that spread north of the equator after the last ice age.

However, as they encountered different climates, these three types evolved with adaptive and reproductive mechanisms to survive in their new environments.

For example, cannabis plants in areas with weaker sunlight tend to have larger leaves to help them absorb more sunlight.

The effect of latitude
Leaf comparison of the three types of cannabis plants

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.

Their leaves are long, dainty, and 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 Cannabis Sativa, but it does have an invigorating, pick me up kind of effect that leads to feeling happier, unlike its more sedating counterpart, Indica.”

— Robert Bergman

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 dominant strains are higher in THC levels. This makes it less likely to be used for medicinal purposes, but one of the more popular strains for recreational purposes. However, sativa strains are still commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine.

cannabis sativa leaf
Sativa leaf

Growing Cannabis Sativa

Sativa is a marijuana strain that typically flowers for longer, has lower yields than 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 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.

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Buy Sativa seeds

  • Thrive in sunny climates
  • Grow slender leaves for an uplifting high
  • High THC levels
  • Tall plants for in- and outdoor

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 pure Indica is a short plant, this one is perfect for indoor growing.

While Sativa takes some time to flower, pure Indica strains 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.

“Cannabis Indica 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 it will surely take you far and beyond just a regular high.”

— Robert Bergman

indica marijuana type leaf
Indica leaf

Growing Indica strains

Indicas are typically higher yielding, have a shorter flowering time, and have 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.

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Buy indica seeds

  • Easy, small, sturdy plants
  • High THC levels
  • Heavy yields
  • Perfect for limited space

Cannabis Ruderalis

You will rarely hear anyone talking about Cannabis Ruderalis, which is one of the primary marijuana types 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.

marijuana type Runderalis Leaf
Ruderalis leaf

Ruderalis plants have an extremely early and fast flowering cycle because it grows farther north than any other type of marijuana, so don’t have the luxury of a lot of time to mature before cold weather hits. Ruderalis is used to produce autoflowers.

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

What is hybrid weed?

In modern cannabis cultivation and breeding, there are a huge number of varieties available. Many years of intense mixing (here are some of the best strains to mix) and hybridization have created a huge spectrum of hybrid strains across these three primary varieties.

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 hybrid strains is to combine positive characteristics from different strains together.

Some key differences between Indica and Sativa marijuana types 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.

So, hybrid weed is nothing else but a cultivar that has a mix of indica and sativa traits.

Hybrid Cannabis strain
Hybrid marijuana types

Growing hybrid strains

Hybrid strains 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.

Download my free Grow Bible to learn everything there’s to know about growing your own.

What to grow next?

Now that you know about the three types of cannabis plants, you may want to know more about the plant sex and seed types. We’ve got you covered!

Thanks for reading. If you have any questions, if something is unclear or if you’d simply like to learn more, then leave a comment or questions below, and don’t forget to download my free grow bible.


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Mr Robert Bergman PhD


Robert Bergman is an Amsterdam-based marijuana grow expert who has years of experience from small grows to massive operations ... See profile

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65 comments on “Cannabis Indica, Sativa, Ruderalis, and Hybrids”

  1. Hi there Jay,

    Thanks for checking out ILGM!

    Unfortunately, we don’t carry this specific strain at the moment, but we probably have something that’s very similar though! Just take a look in our store and use the filters to narrow your search down 🙂

    Enjoy exploring! 🙂

  2. I grew 3 plants from your site this year. Banana Kush, Sour Diesel & Durban Passion( Poison?). I’m looking for the skunkyiest, tastiest banana size buds. I haven’t found it yet. Can you help? prefer a healthy amount of cbd. 😉

  3. I Bought super Skunk late last year in June out of 20 seeds 3 Plants made it and are now just star to bud im Happy i just Recently Purchased Some indica Purple kush for in door

  4. I’m old school and come from smoking in the 90’s when you didn’t have a choice of what type of weed you got in your 20 sack. Now I know the difference between the three types of marijuana, I’m am inquiring on all the different types that are within each category. Could you send me that info or explain to me what the difference is when buying. For example, why would I choose one over the other in stavia? Or one over like 10 different indica’s? I want a bag of Stavia and a bag of Indica. But what one of each type?
    -thanks in advance

  5. Robert, like yourself I to truly Love Growing Marijuana. Your grow guides read like a best selling novel, jam packed with useful information and knowledge that’s just not found anywhere. I “asked” Ed many time’s for how to information that’s contained in your journals, to no avail. I’m happy to say I’ve put all that information to good use and currently have a Harem of 4, yeah 4 different strains currently growing. OG Kush, Skywalker, White Widow, & Banana Kush, needless to say it wouldn’t be possible without your journals, and a lot of work. Well work is a bit harsh, more like time, energy, sweat, an even a few tears. Plus all the information gleaned from your journals, and seeds, can’t forget your vast inventory of seeds. Thanks Mr. Bergman, my grow wouldn’t be as successful with out your Love Of Growing Marijuana, and passing along your knowledge. Nothing makes me happier than hanging out with my virgin girls, knowing any problems can be solved by checking out your journals.

  6. Alrighty dude i’m actually a little confused. 1st: u stated that sativas r usually higher in cannibinoids than indicas. If so then Y is it that indicas r the more resinous variety? Does this mean that each trichome of sativa packs a more densely concentrated amount of cannibinoids or is it simply because of the different “type” of cannibinoids?
    2nd: this is where i’m really confused. I used to believe that if a female plant self-pollinated then the seeds were keepers. Now for the longest time i have been hearing that u can’t trust the seeds to b anything other than hermies, unless intentionally induced by using things like colloidal silver. So WTF?

  7. I tried to order from here and all I got was my card was declined, so I can’t say I had a good experience with this

  8. Very intrigued… I bought GDP from a dispensary in Colorado Springs and found a couple of seeds. Two were underdeveloped and one full grown. I sprouted it and grew it. My best grow, however, once I put it in flower it showed male traits. It grew straight male, no female traits whatsoever… Will the pollen carry straight GDP traits if I try crossing with other strains (want to cross with female SSH, PH, and or Sour D)? What might be the traits ratio? Hoping to gather female seeds

  9. Hi
    Not sure about your thoughts on the strength of sativa. Havi g smoked sativa in Afghanistan, pakistan, india, Thailand, load, Cambodia, etc. You do get very stoned, and the high is invigorating, even at times more than I have with Indica

  10. […] Considered one of the best strains to mix, Granddaddy Purple and Sour Diesel, are well-known strains on their own. When these two combine, the blend is called Sour Purple. It’s a great example of what happens when people start mixing indica and sativa. […]

  11. Although I don’t grow personally, I particularly appreciate the information on the medicinal benifits of both THC & CBD. Thanks to your input, my wife, who currently suffers a severe case of anxiety, is now willing to consider cannabis as an option of treatment. Just wanna say thanks & keep up the good work.

  12. The enhancement your attitude offers to the grow idealism as a whole is absolutely admirable. I personally thank you for the great work you do. Enhancing such a worthwhile endeavor must be hugely rewarding.

  13. Thank you Robert,this was Informative but Simple to Read I’ve had small gardens for 4years now but have received seeds from friends,next year I’d like to buy some land stains could you recommend some one.

  14. Thanks great info ( for northern hemisphere),I’ve tried to download the Bible 3 times ,I love yr site & will be investing in some product,just getting $ together

  15. Your Robert in your team I just recently today sent you an email about the truth of your Bible and the things that you’ve done for me my comment is maybe my problem with the nosy neighbor is my plants are getting too big in relatively I should probably shorten them up if all possible is there a way that I can grow ruderalis I live in North Eastern Colorado and I grow outside which nobody rarely does out here I have good success but now the height is going to get me and bite me in the butt I don’t want to break any rules or laws I want to abide by everything I am 60 years old and my sister 67 and I have a medical marijuana license to cultivate 2 travel with and 2 be a caregiver at this time we only receive a small amount of money on Social Security we live in our own house and with any help is there a fund me page that could help me maybe get a small Greenhouse nothing extravagant I don’t have the resources to do that but I love growing marijuana when you read this if you’d like to talk to me about this or I’ll send you some pictures I would be happy to do that I’m very proud of what I do and I’ve learned most of it through the years of doing it but I find it right down to a science with your Bible once again my name is John for girl in my sister Joanie and our dog Mister Miss Piggy please send me a reply and maybe you guys can help me out with the laws and getting this so I don’t hurt anybody or do anything that would a person wouldn’t like I’m kind of confused when I talk right now because the growing season is going to start and I’m coming up empty-handed cuz I don’t know anything about growing in the greenhouse or indoor growing thank you for listening to me and please get back to me sincerely John

  16. 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.

  17. statefarm,

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

  18. 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

  19. 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

  20. 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.

  21. 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!


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

  24. 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.

  25. 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?

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

  27. 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?

  28. 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

  29. 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!

  30. 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.

  31. 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???

  32. 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.

  33. Spunky,

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

  34. 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

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  36. 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 .

  37. 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 .