When getting a slice of turkey or chicken, people often ask you “White meat or dark meat”? Just like meat, cannabis has two main types and both have large and subtle differences. (except your pot roast isn’t going to get you high.) Indica and Sativa are easily identifiable by their effects but have subtle differences in their appearances. People often enjoy them at different times of the day and quite often, some people only enjoy one type. Wondering what the differences are? Read on — and by the end, you should be able to impress your friends by identifying their strains by eye.
A quick history lesson
We have to rip this bandaid off quickly. Are you ready for this?
Despite the article title, indica and sativa don’t technically exist anymore. Before you call us blasphemous for using the terms on our products — let’s do a little etymology lesson.
There were originally only two primary types of cannabis plants known as “Cannabis Sativa” and “Cannabis Indica”. Both had distinct characteristics that were mostly very consistent. Fast-forward hundreds of years and through selective breeding, there are thousands of strains to fit different needs.
Nowadays, when we say a strain is an indica or a sativa, we’re really saying it’s indica-like or sativa-like. Consider it like a weed categorization system and just be glad it’s not as complicated as the Dewey-decimal system.
Cannabis indica is a real outdoorsy, roughin’ it type; it generally exists in harsh environments like the snowy mountains of Afghanistan. There’s a lot to love about Indica, especially it’s thick leaves and short plants that grow wide.
An Indica strain may be tougher than its cousins, but it’s a certified grade-A chillaxin’ machine. Its cannabinoid makeup often consists of low THC and high CBD content — which can attribute to its relaxing body buzz effects. There’s a reason people call it in-da-couch.
- Dark green
- Short & dense
- Short & wide leaves
- Body buzz
- Best for night use
- Hindu Kush
- Afghan Kush
- Granddaddy Purple
Catch these strains getting a tan on the beach; cannabis sativa is a strain that is found primarily in hot, dry climates with long sunny days. This weed sibling got all the lanky genes — the plant stands tall and its leaves are thin.
The cannabinoid makeup often consists of lower doses of CBD and higher doses of THC — which contributes to its “go-getter” attitude. If sativa was an intern at your office, they’d know everyone’s coffee order by the end of their first week. Sativa is known to create a “mind-high” which means it may affect your mental state more than indica would — possible effects include feeling productive or creative.
- Light green
- Tall & lean
- Long & narrow leaves
- Head buzz
- Best for day use
- Acapulco Gold
- Panama Red
- Durban Poison
How do indicas and sativas change your high?
Now, despite both of these strains offering two different experiences — it isn’t as clear cut as “chill vs. thrill”. So… despite this article explaining the differences of the two strains… is it really that simple?
The answer lies mostly within cannabinoids and terpenes — and how each personally affects you.
Cannabinoids include a myriad of different compounds including THC, CBD and several more cool-sounding abbreviations. Each of those compounds affect your brain in specific ways and interact with each other in interesting ways — something we call the “entourage effect”.
Terpenes are an organic compound responsible for a plant’s flavours and aromas — and they can affect the experience a cannabis plant can offer you. For example, caryophyllene — a terpene found in black pepper cloves — may give you feelings of relaxation and restfulness.
Other common types of flower
You won’t see ruderalis being produced or sold because it doesn’t produce any potent effects. Rude, right?
These little guys are tough and grow in cold, low-light environments like Eastern Europe, India, Siberia and Russia. They only grow about 12 inches high, but they grow fast and often — if ever there was a type of weed that actually grew like a weed — this would be it.
In terms of effects, ruderalis has very little going on due to its low THC and CBD content, so if you find yourself walking along the Himalayas and see one of these guys, boy are you going to be disappointed once you light it up.
Ruderalis is often bred with other sativas and indicas to help with the breeding process. Without throwing too much science jargon at you — it helps create “auto-flowering cannabis strains”, which essentially means they can grow without using “light deprivation” techniques. These strains can take as much light as possible and will grow fast — which means more weed for you. So maybe ruderalis isn’t so rude.
Just as the name suggests, this plant sits between indica and sativa. They don’t have a consistent appearance or a natural environment as they are often grown and bred in labs, but that can make them some of the most unique strains.
We can’t give you an exact description of its cannabinoids or effects, because hybrids are made to nail a specific characteristic and exaggerate it to the enth degree. All we can say is that there is a hybrid for nearly everyone.