Indica and sativa are the two main types of cannabis. Here’s how to tell them apart.
Cannabis is one of the oldest crops known to mankind, with records of its cultivation dating back thousands of years. Today, it is widely accepted that marijuana has two different species: Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa. Cross-breeding of the two types has led to a wide variety of hybrid strains with unique characteristics.
The differences between indica and sativa remain a subject of much debate, especially among scientists who study the plant. However, most agree that indica and sativa plants are distinct in a number of ways.
The most accepted way of distinguishing indica versus sativa is by appearance, or what scientists refer to as morphology.
ativa plants are tall, loosely branched and have long, narrow leaves. They are usually grown outdoors and can reach heights of up to 20 feet.
Indica plants are short, densely branched and have wider leaves. They are better suited for growing indoors
Besides appearance, indica and sativa plants are commonly believed to have different effects on their user. These effects include:
uplifting and energetic
cerebral, spacey or hallucinogenic
best suited for day use
relaxing and calming
body buzz or ‘couch lock’
best suited for night use
However, no scientific study has confirmed these differences, and there is some doubt about their accuracy. In fact, history suggests a much simpler difference between indica and sativa.
The original classification of Cannabis indica was made by French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck in 1785.
Lamarck observed that certain marijuana plants from India were intoxicating and could be made into hashish. But traditional hemp crops, which were more common in Europe, had no mind-altering effect.
He came up with the name Cannabis indica to distinguish Indian cannabis from European hemp, which was known at the time as Cannabis sativa. Likewise, Cannabis indica was specificallyrecognized as a therapeutic in Western medicine during the 1800s.