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Sativa vs Indica vs Hybrid

One of the very first and most common questions asked by new marijuana consumers is, “What’s the difference between indica and sativa plants?” Throw a third option in to the mix - hybrid - and even veteran connoisseurs get confused by this classification system.

With literally thousands of different cannabis plants being bred, it’s easiest for breeders and consumers to classify the varieties as either an indica or sativa strain. The hybrid category was adopted later as growers began crossbreeding and mixing genetics from different cannabis plants. Today, many consumers base their entire marijuana purchase solely on a strain’s classification.

The most distinguishing characteristics of indica and sativa plants include geographical origin, morphology, flowering time, yield, flavor, and effect.

Geographical Origin

 Indica - Believed to derive from the Hindu Kush nations of the Middle East, indica plants can be found around regions known for their hash culture like Afghanistan, Turkey, and Morocco. They thrive in cooler environments.

Sativa - More of an equatorial plant, sativa plants flourish amidst more variable and warmer weather patterns of countries such as Columbia, Mexico, Thailand, and Southeast Asia.

Morphology

Indica - Great for indoor growing as these bushy plants are typically short and wide. The dark green leaves are broad and covered in heavy coats of resin.

Sativa - Growing up to extraordinary heights of 20 feet or more, sativas are best suited for outdoor gardens. These tall and thin plants are generally a lighter shade of green.

Flowering Time

Indica - With a relatively short growth cycle, indica’s thick and dense buds generally flower between 8 and 12 weeks.

Sativa - Known to have much longer vegetation periods, sativa plants can take anywhere from 10 to 16 weeks to fully mature.

Yield

Indica - These strains typically yield fewer (1.5 to 2.5 ounces per plant) crops of higher quality (~18% THC).

Sativa - Due to their long growth cycle, sativa strains yield much more product (3 ounces to 1 pound per plant). However, these strains possess lower levels of THC (~10-25%).

Smell and Flavor

Indica - The buds of Cannibis Indica have a distinct sweet and sour odor, ranging in flavor from bitter to sugary and fruity.

Sativa - Known for being quite pungent, sativa strains offer sweet aromas with earthy undertones of pepper and even ammonia.

Effect and High

Indica - These strains tend to be more sedating and relaxing, offering a full-body high. Therefore, most prefer indica strains for nighttime use and to treat insomnia and anxiety. Indica strains also tend to have the strongest analgesic effect so are typically chosen to battle chronic pain and muscle spasms.

Sativa - Considered more for daytime use, sativa strains produce an energized, cerebral high. Due to its uplifting and euphoric effect, sativas are chosen to treat ailments such as fatigue, depression, and other mood disorders.

Along with pure indica and sativa strains, there are a myriad of other strains most commonly referred to as hybrids. By combining and crossbreeding different indica and sativa plants, the resulting hybrid will grow, mature, and smoke in relationship to the genetic traits in its lineage.

There are 3 basic hybrid categories:

Indica-dominant

In most cases, these strains are best reserved for nighttime dosing, but some strains also offer more active highs, great for mood elevation.  These hybrids produce a relaxing, full-body high while also providing ocular effects and mental relaxation. Those with autoimmune diseases prefer indica-dominant hybrids.

These hybrids offer the robust cerebral high as is customary in sativa strains, but are bred with the shorter flowering time and heavier yields of indica plants. Since these strains typically contain smaller amounts of THC, they are perfect for daytime use.

Even Hybrids (50/50)

Individuals seeking the optimal balance of effects, 50/50 hybrid strains accomplish just that. They offer the perfect combination of both mind and body relief.

Cannabis is a complex plant, offering an array of benefits to its consumers. The combinations of strains are endless as are the medical utility, effect, and potency of every strain.

As breeders continue to develop new strains of cannabis plants, it’s important to note that not every strain is going to affect every consumer in the same way. Individuals who dose more regularly will obviously have a higher tolerance than individuals who dose less frequently. Additionally, delivery methods can also affect the reaction consumers have to the same exact strain.  Consumers are encouraged to take care when selecting strains and dosages as to reduce the risk of potential side effects and costs.

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