Everything You Want to Know & More About Indica and Sativa
At Mendocino Experience Cannabis Farm Tours, our cannabis tours aren’t just fun, but informative, too.
Yes, our guests have the opportunity to enjoy the best weed in the world in one of the most beautiful places on the planet, but they also get to learn about the history of cannabis, the best ways to enjoy it, and what it takes to grow the best pot.
One question we often get is, “What is the difference between Indica & Sativa?”.
So here is everything you wanted to know – and then some – about Cannabis Indica & Cannabis Sativa.
Let’s start with the basics. Indica & Sativa are the two best known species of the three known species of cannabis, those three being Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica, and Cannabis Ruderalis. You’ve probably heard of Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica. Fewer people have heard about Cannabis Ruderalis. If you want to know about this lesser known species of cannabis, we wrote an article all about Cannabis Ruderalis here.
Indica plants are short, conical, & bush-like with wide leaves and dense woody branches, where Sativa plants are tall and tree-like with narrow leaves, sparser branches, and a fibrous stalk. Indica leaves also tend to be a darker green than Sativa leaves.
Hemp is Cannabis Sativa that is usually grown specifically for this fibrous stalk rather than for its cannabinoid content. Humans have been growing Cannabis Sativa for over 50,000 years, since the paleolithic era. In the United States, as of the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, Industrial Hemp is defined as Cannabis containing no more than 0.3% THC by dry weight.
When each Cannabis species was first classified:
Cannabis Sativa was first classified in 1753 by Carl Linnaeus, known as the father of taxonomy, it was his approach that became the standard that we still use to this day. Linnaeus created our universally accepted conventions for the naming of organisms, (Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, and Species – using Latin names to define each) classifying thousands of plant, fungus, and animal species. Cannabis Sativa means cultivated Cannabis, Sativa had been cultivated by the Europeans for centuries at that point for fiber and for the seed oil and food that the nutritious hemp seeds produce. Any country that wanted to have a viable navy relied on hemp for its rot resistant fibers to make sails and ropes, and for the oakum used to seal and waterproof the boards that made ships. That’s why so many nations required their farmers to grow hemp.
Cannabis Indica, was classified in 1785 by the pioneering French biologist, Jean Baptiste Lamarck, who first built his reputation as a scientist in botany, and designed the Flore Francaise, (French Flora) an early taxonomy system specifically for identifying plants. Cannabis Indica means Cannabis from India. Lamarck identified it as a different, wild species of cannabis from the long cultivated Cannabis Sativa.
Where they originated:
Indica plants originated in the Hindu Kush mountain range, a 500 mile long mountain range west of the Himalayan Mountains that runs from Afghanistan through Pakistan, and into Tajikistan to the Pamir Mountains which separate Pakistan from China. They’re native to central Asia & eastern Europe – Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, and Turkey. The plants are adapted to the often harsh, dry, and rough climate of the Hindu Kush mountains.
Sativa plants come from Eastern Asia in climates that are typically hotter and more humid than the Hindu Kush. The taller stalks, sparser branches, and narrower leaves of Cannabis Sativa help it respirate away moisture more efficiently than Cannabis Indica, and therefore make Cannabis Sativa plants less susceptible to molds and funguses, and able to thrive in more humid climates than Cannabis Indica does.
The effects of Cannabis vary widely from strain to strain, and even vary between different cultivars of each strain depending on the ratios of various cannabinoids, sulfur compounds, and terpenes that each individual plant’s flowers contain.
That being said, Indicas are often prescribed to help in relaxation, and to help fight insomnia and anxiety, generally speaking, they tend to produce more of a full body high, or even “couch lock”, while Sativas produce more of a mental high, and are considered to increase energy, inspire creativity, increase focus, and improve mood.
The mnemonics I personally used to remember how to differentiate the general effects of Indica and Sativa when I first learned about them were “In da couch” for Indica, referring to couch lock, and “speedy Sativa”, referring to Sativa’s more energetic high.
Many growers we know prefer growing Indicas to Sativas because Indicas have a shorter growing cycle, and weed farmers can harvest and replant Indicas more quickly than Sativas when they’re doing light dep grows. Indicas spend, on average, 6 to 8 weeks in flower before they are ready to harvest, where Sativas, on average, can spend as long as 10 to 16 weeks in flower before they are ready to harvest.
Almost every strain of cannabis you will find nowadays is a hybrid of both Indica and Sativa, (or it’s a Ruderalis hybrid, if it’s an auto flowering plant). Strains are most often either classified as Indica or Sativa Dominant rather than purely Indica or Sativa. You really have to try several different strains of cannabis to determine which strain or strains are right for you.
Popular Indica dominant strains:
Girl Scout Cookies
Mac and Cheese
White Tahoe Cookies
Popular Sativa dominant strains:
Super Silver Haze
If you want to learn more:
If you want to learn more about cannabis on a day you’ll never forget while sampling the best herb on the planet, grown by expert boutique legacy cannabis farmers with multigenerational experience and knowledge behind them, in one of the most beautiful places on earth, come on a cannabis tour in the Emerald Triangle with us on The Mendocino Experience cannabis farm tour. It’s a truly unique vacation experience, but don’t take our word for it. Check out our reviews on Yelp, TripAdvisor, And Google. The next time you find yourself in the San Francisco Bay Area, or really anywhere in Northern California, look us up!
See you in California cannabis country!