Indica vs Sativa: What’s The Difference?


This article will give you the skinny on indica vs sativa – what’s the difference between them and how do you tell which one is which?

Anna Wilcox
Sep 13, 2015
indica vs sativa

When people talk about marijuana, they’re often referring to two species of the cannabis plant: Cannabis indica or Cannabis sativa. But, what’s the difference? And how do you tell which one is which? Sativas and indicas are both psychoactive varieties of the cannabis plant. Yet, experienced weed smokers will be quick to tell you that the mind-altering effects are a bit different in each variety. This article will give you the skinny on indica vs sativa, and how to tell them apart.


1 Indica vs Sativa: Whats The Difference?
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The easiest way to tell indica vs sativa is to look at the leaves. A true sativa is a tall, scraggly looking plant with wiry stocks and thin leaves. In contrast, indica plants are short and bushy. Indica leaves are usually broad and full.

Sativas are native to the warm climates of Mexico, Central America, and Southeast Asia. The natural equatorial habitat of sativas means that these plants love the heat and the outdoors. While they normally grow between 8 and 12 feet high, a healthy sativa plant can reach up to 18 feet tall in optimum conditions.

Smoking sativa

A good sativa should be about as stimulating as a strong cup of coffee. Typically used during the daytime, sativa will energize you with their strong cerebral effects. Many marijuana lovers choose sativa when they’re looking for an uplifting and creative buzz.

Sativas tend to have a lighter, fruity aroma.

Growing sativa

Because sativas are so large and accustomed to warm climates, these plants produce the best when they’re grown outside. Contrary to their stockier counterpart, sativas take quite a while to flower. Expect a flowering time of 12 to 14 weeks.

In warm environments, it’s not uncommon for sativa buds to have a reddish hue. In colder climates, expect to see more purple.

Pure sativa strains

  • Hawaiian
  • Thai
  • Panama Red


indica Indica vs Sativa: Whats The Difference?
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With dense foliage and full-figured leaves, indica plants are made to withstand much harsher growing environments. Indicas are quite short and stubby, but don’t let their lack-luster appearance fool you: these plants are the best resin producers.

Originally native to the kush mountain region, C. indica is made to withstand much colder and more turbulent conditions. As the plant adapted to a harsh mountainous climate, it also developed the ability to produce thick cannabinoid-dense resin to protect itself.

Indicas are often very potent, with naturally high levels of THC.

Smoking indica

If a sativa is like a strong cup of coffee, an indica is like a sleeping pill. Great for people who struggle to get to sleep, indicas produce very sedative effects. Indica smokers often feel sleepy, relaxed, and have a strong desire to eat.

Indicas also have a distinct skunky odor.

Growing indica

Indicas are the plant of choice for indoor growers. Short, fast, and sweet, these beauties are easy to grow and produce a crop quickly. Indicas will grow 3 to 6 feet tall. They have an early flowering time between 8 and 9 weeks.

Indicas are known to have a deep purple color to their stocks.

Pure indica strains


A hybrid occurs when you crossbreed a sativa with an indica. Nowadays, hybrids are bred with other hybrids. This has lead to some outrageously strong man-made marijuana varieties. Products like the 51.2% THC Kurupts Moonrock wouldn’t exist today without crossbreeding sativa and indica varieties.

Because hybrids are so diverse, it’s best to use a strain-finding tool like Leafly to look up the specific psychoactive effects of each individual hybrid strain.


Cannabis Ruderalis 1 Indica vs Sativa: Whats The Difference?
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Often rudely referred to as “ditch weed”, cannabis ruderalis is the scientific name for hemp. Hemp is non-psychoactive, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable. Seeds from the Hemp plant are extremely nutrient dense.

Hemp is also a sustainable source of paper products and biodiesel fuel. In fact, every hemp stalk planted has the potential of saving 12 trees.

Cannabis ruderalis is native to Russia, and can frequently be found growing roadside in Poland and parts of Eastern Europe. Unlike its psychoactive cousins, C. ruderalis flowers as it ages, rather than with light cycles.

Anna Wilcox
Sep 13, 2015