Skip to primary navigation Skip to content Skip to footer
Back to Blog

Everything You Want to Know & More About Indica and Sativa




Sativa vs Indica diagram

Guests on our cannabis farm tours often ask us, “What’s the difference between 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?”.



tourists having fun on a weed farm tour

Sure, our pot farm tours are lots of fun, but they’re educational, too




So here is everything you wanted to know – and then some – about Cannabis Indica & Cannabis Sativa.




The basics:



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.




hemp aka cannabis sativa

Hemp is Cannabis Sativa typically grown specifically for its fibrous stalks







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:



Carl Linnaeus, who first classified Cannabis Sativa

Carl Linnaeus, father of taxonomy, first classified Cannabis Sativa in 1753



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.




Jean Baptiste Lamarck, who classified cannabis Indica

Jean Baptiste Lamarck classified Cannabis Indica in 1785



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:



The Hindu Kush Mountains, where Cannabis Indica originated

Cannabis Indica originated in the Hindu Kush Mountains




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.  






Girl high on weed with couch lock

Couch lock is one of the effects of Indica



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.




Flowering cannabis plants with huge colas growing on a Northern California weed farm

Farmers often prefer growing Indica dominant strains because of their faster turnaround time



Growing times:



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.






Cannasseurs explore Cannabis Ruderalis on an Emerald Triangle Cannabis farm

Most pot plants you see on weed farms nowadays are hybrid strains



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:




Cookies Kush

Girl Scout Cookies

Gorilla Glue

Granddaddy Purple

Hindu Kush

Mac and Cheese

Northern Lights


Sour Kush

Strawberry Banana

Wedding Cake

White Diesel

White Tahoe Cookies




Blue Dream, one of the most popular Cannabis strains

Blue Dream is one of the most popular Sativa dominant Cannabis strains



Popular Sativa dominant strains:


Acapulco Gold


Amnesia Haze

Blue Dream



Durban Poison

Green Crack

Maui Waui

Panama Red

Sour Diesel

Strawberry Cough

Super Silver Haze

Sweet Cheese





White Widow




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!



Cannabis tour guides in a pot farm greenhouse

If you want to learn more, join us on one of our fun and educational Cannabis farm tours!


See you in California cannabis country!