9 Differences Between Indica vs. Sativa

 

This is a general overview of indicas vs. sativas. Today’s marijuana plants are products of a long history of plant breeding.  Many strains have been breed to be a hybrid – both indica and sativa.

Not all of these methods are sure fire ways to determine indica vs. sativa; however, if you can identify several of these indicators then you’ll have a pretty good indication. I tried to keep these distinctions as simple as possible. I hope I haven’t oversimplified it. If you think I missed anything let me know in the comments.

1. Geographic Origin

geographic origin indica vs sativa

 

Marijuana plants have quickly spread worldwide. The origins have been traced back to general geographic locations. Below are a few examples of countries from each region.

Indica – Hindu Kush region of the Middle East –  Turkey, Morocco, Afghanistan

Sativa – Grown near the equator – Colombia, Mexico, Thailand, Southeast Asia.

2. Leaf Shape

difference between leaf shape indica and sativa

One of the easiest ways to tell if a marijuana plant is indica or sativa is to look at the shape of it’s leaves. As with all the categories, hybrids my exhibit either shape, or a combination.

Indica – Broad leaf

Sativa – Slender leaf

3. Plant Height

plant height indica vs. sativa

If the plant is mature then the size is a pretty good indication. This makes indicas more suitable for small grow spaces, while sativas are often grown outdoors. In order to keep a decent size I didn’t even go with the tallest height for sativa in the graphic. Sativas can get massive.

Indica – 3-4 ft.

Sativa – Up to 20 ft.

4. Flowering Time

indica sativa flowering time

 

Flowering is the stage of a grow cycle when a plant begins to produce buds. Once flowering is complete it’s time to harvest and cure.

Indica –  8 to 12 weeks

Sativa –  10 to 16 weeks

5. Yield Size

sativa yield vs indica yield

The size of the plant (obviously) plays a big role in accounting for the size of the harvest. I used the higher yield size from each in the graphic.

Indica – 1.5 to 2.5 ounces per plant

Sativa – 3 ounces to 1 pound per plant

6.Effect

difference betweend indica sativa effects

If you know which type of bud you’re smoking you can plan certain activities around your smoke sessions.

Indica – sedating and relaxing, full-body high  – get ready to chill out on the couch and listen to music or take a nap

Sativa – energized, cerebral high – this is great for getting work done around the house or going on adventures.

7. Symptom Relief

indica sativa symptom relief

Both strains have been successful at relieving symptoms such as pain relief, nausea and loss of appetite; however, certain strains may relieve certain symptoms more efficiently.

Indica – insomnia and anxiety

Sativa – fatigue, depression, and other mood disorders

8. Flavor

sativa flavor vs indica flavor

Plant breeding has opened up an array of flavors, but here are the classic flavors produced by many indicas and sativas.

Indica – sweet – such as  blueberry and strawberry

Sativa – earthy – such as pine

9. Strain Names

indica strain names sativa strain names

Names have pretty much gotten out of control; however, there are a few conventions left in tact. Below are examples of names that will let you know if the strain is indica or sativa. Unfortunately, names are often made up so it’s hard to know if you have a legitimate stain.

Indica – Kush

Sativa – Haze

If you like cannabis and want to see amazing examples then I highly recommend a book called Green: A Field Guide to Marijuana. It’s a coffee table style book with incredible photography and information. I had nothing to do with the making of this book. I just think it’s awesome, and you probably will too. 

Related Article: 11 Marijuana Terpenes You Should Know About

104 Comments

  • Norm Thompson says:

    I prefer the flavor of indica , but the boost of the sativa.

  • Owen cheeseman says:

    Sativa all the way! I love going on little adventures after a spliff.

  • Anonymous says:

    Sativa me A seh

  • Mary Jane says:

    Sativa during the day and Indica/hybrid at night.

  • Jeff Mangan says:

    Indica all the way,it’s like a very strong martini after work—-set me back into the couch immediately after a bad day at work

  • james wilder says:

    yeah your right names have got way out of control but i cant tell the difference between indica and sativa buds

    but i know its gonna be a while but happy 420 anyway people

    smoke up!!!!!!!!!!

  • greenjimmy1975 says:

    Thanx for all the tips I can’t wait to smoke the goods just a couple more weeks to go and I need advice on cutting my plant so is it better to cut the whole plant and hang it or just cut desperate branches

    • Mary Jane says:

      I don’t have experience growing, but I’ve seen it done both ways. I think the most common method is to cut the branches. Try doing a youtube search. There are lots of great weedtubers doing grow tutorials. I particularly like urbanremo.

  • s says:

    Sativas typically have a lower yield than indicas.

  • lauravan says:

    When I was growing up the only weed available were the sativas from Columbia and Mexico. I have a real love of sativas for their quality high and the varying buzzes from each strain. Indicas are all the same. The high from every indica plant is always the same.

  • KieferLogan says:

    I find that Indica, well most strains I smoke have a nice earthy flavor to it mixed with a candy flavor. I usually smoke OG Ultimate Kush and some other herbs that I don’t know much about. Although I can say White Widow does have a earthy taste to it. I feel as though it kind of depends on the strain itself and not so much if its Indica or Sativa.

  • :) says:

    Hi! Nice blog. I just wanted to let you know that the country is Colombia, not Columbia 😉

  • Curious Georgina says:

    So, I have this problem…I get really friggen paranois and feel as if my heart is going to explode and the only way to calm down is to take a hot shower. Is this an allergy, a bad reaction, or am I just friggen weird? Is there a strain that you have heard of that might not send me into this kind of episode? I used to smoke a lot and this never happened before but recently all it takes is like one hit, sometimes I’m not even buzzed yet. It’s such a bummer :(

    • Mary Jane says:

      I have had several friends who were the same way. To be honest, cannabis isn’t for everyone. If it makes you feel uncomfortable then I would say not use it. With that said, it could be a matter of strains (try an indica), or the amount (try smoking less at a time, or smoking less potent cannabis).

      • Crisco Kid says:

        I get this way. It affects me mostly for my first smoke of the day. I make it a point to take a small puff at first and let that settle in . I will smoke more often but smoke much less at a time.

      • ash ryan sherman says:

        I know this is super old but those who stumbled on tbis, CBD WEED LOW THC FOR ALL WHO GET PARANOID AKA Charolettes web, ACDC, HARLEQUINN, MANY MANY MORE.

    • Anonymous says:

      You’re probably used to sativa, and starting getting hold of some indica. That’s exactly how it affected me. I’ve always smoked the usual ‘Mexican’ weed that’s pretty much always been around or some nice piney stuff that had a very uplifting high. Then when medicinal weed started coming around it was different. I would take 2 or 3 hits expecting a nice enjoyable high and bam! 5 – 10 minutes later I was ready to pass out. I’ve even gotten sick to my stomach. It was the sudden introduction to strong indica or hybrid my body wasn’t used to. After 30 years or so of mellow sativa the indicas and hybrids were a shock and needed slowly getting used to. I still prefer sativa because it’s a more quality high for me.

    • weed immune says:

      same here, everytime i smoke. i get the worst chest pain and my heart rate jumps to 150, 170.. its insane im so worried about my heart going so fast that i dont even notice if im high or not.

    • Chris Budtender says:

      I use to get that way with some strains. After working in a dispensary I have learned that sativas tend to make me have anxiety, make me paranoid and makes my heart race. I have learned that the indica’s work best with my body chemistry. Hope this helps some.

    • Anonymous says:

      That happened to me on three different occasions. All three times it happened I had smoked out of a blunt. That is why I take it in the most natural way of smoking it and that is a pipe.

  • Walfredo de los reyes says:

    I suffer from diabetic renopathy which keeps me up all night with much pain on my toes and legs. Can you help me on what to get that will help, I have tried all medical avenues ,and it has not helped. Thank you.

  • Ahnaf Arko says:

    I have not smoked sativa. I started taking weed about two weeks ago and trying to study a little about this on internet. I live in Bangladesh and in my city, only indica is availabe. I’m really eager to taste sativa, but which one is the best? Indica or Sativa?

    • Mary Jane says:

      It’s really a matter of personal opinion. For me, it depends on my mood/situation. If I’m hanging out with a bunch of friends then I’ll probably choose a sativa. If I’m getting ready for bed then it’s indica all the way. Then there’s always hybrids as well.

  • Danger Mouse says:

    I love both, flavour and smell of indica with the fact it chills me out at night (big bonus) so I do love it, but at the same time, I am a busy person and sativas definitely help on that front. I am not a massive fan of the pine smell though, fussy ain’t I :)

  • Adi says:

    We are having a Million Marijuana March here in Bangalore, India on 7th May 2016, hope to liberate the legalities here, thanks for the article!

  • Thomas ahern says:

    I love to smoke sativas during the day and a nice heavy indica at night. I can tell In a very short amount of time if I’m smoking an indica or a sativa if it’s a dominant strain . Most strains are hybrids and have slight differences. But it’s obvious what variety you’re hitting if it’s dominant either way. I grow an indica dominant hybrid. It melts me into the couch and makes me hungry right away after I smoke it. An hour later I’m tired.

  • Dave says:

    I have just obtained a prescription for medical marijuana. Am trying to find out the differences between sativa and indica. Basic differences. Is there one that will get a person more of a body high than a metal high? What strain would be the easiest to pick up in Alberta, Canada.
    Thanks.

    • Mary Jane says:

      Indica is more body high, and sativa is more of a head high. You should be able to pick up either from a medical dispensary. Cheers!

    • DVS Cat says:

      personally, i have a few medical issues, such as sciatica and arthritis, as well as bipolar disorder. for myself i usually smoke sativas during the day for pain relief and to get stuff done. i consider this a ‘body high’. can get stuff done, and still feel good. indicas on the other hand, are all about pain relief, and winding down. couch lock. movie marathon, lol. if you are unsure, then i would recommend starting out with sativas, but not at bed time. i also deal with restless legs, and often indicas are the only way for me to get a good nights sleep. sativas make me lay there for hours thinking, haha.
      good luck, and best regards

  • Anonymous says:

    some of informations are wrong. in middle east sative plant is famous and no sweet. we call marijuana ( have flavour) no in middle east .

  • Abhishek says:

    Gr8 article….Lots of love for herb from India….Ready to join Million Marijuana March in Bangalore…But still needs more attention and support to overcome Hippocratic society. Legalization is absolute necessity in order to check deforestation and to produce cheap paper from herb. Save Nature Save Life…

  • LikeCallistoToAStarInHeaven says:

    I love the really piney stuff. The more piney the better. Im not into the fruity stuff, doesn’t seem natural to me. Whats the most piney strain you know ?? THANKS

  • Calisunshine says:

    I stop smoking weed after being a heavy smoker in college. When I try it a few times after a long hiatus, the high wasn’t the same. I became super paranoid like every was watching me. I didn’t like this feeling so I stayed away from it.

    Tried some medical grade recently and had different experiences each time. One of those times I was paranoid like back in the day and I swore I wouldn’t smoke again. Then on a different occasion I had a nice mellow high. Listening to music was very soothing. I was really chill. I loved it! After reading about sativa and indica, I’m guessing a hybrid strain is the most enjoyable high for me What would be a good indica/stativa ratio? I don’t want to sleep but I’d like be relaxed and less in my head.

    • Mary Jane says:

      Try a solid 50/50 hybrid. From there you can gauge if you want to lean more in one direction. Since you’re experiencing paranoia you may want to go a little more indica. Hope this helps. Cheers!

  • Monda says:

    Spot on! Very informative and succinct. I want a little of both depending on the situation. Thanks!!

  • cs:go says:

    Great web sitewebsite! It looks really expert! Keep up the good job!

  • TyLeR says:

    I imagine there must be a regional variation in how common certain strains are. Does anyone know if sativas are more difficult to find in Canada?
    It seems to me that they aren’t as prevalent. I’ve always come across indicas almost exclusively over 1 year and very seldom purchased what I knew to be a sativa.

    They are around though, but I think they may be less common due to our climate.

  • Theresa Davaney says:

    I am an indica….. It helps me with my seziurs as well as I tend to be relaxed and not so anxious as I can get often

  • Beccalyn says:

    Personally I prefer the sativa during the day to get things done or before a show. And Indica at night to mellow down. However its different when you are using it for cooking or making tinctures. But it all boils down to personal preference and the amount you consume

  • Tina says:

    I feel like my effect from a sativa gives me that chill, just wanna enjoy music, giggle .. Relax. And the indica I’m more paranoid a bit and twitchy ..? Is it maybe bc I’m smoking a hybrid ?

  • I have tried Idica at night but I nerd to try something that doesn’t make me sleepy. I see from the comments that sativa is better for working, such as gardening and artwork. I have terrible pain and am so sick of strong painkillers. I suppose a combo?

  • Angel says:

    I love indica at night because I am an insomniac but sativa seems like the right thing for night time after dealing with three kids and my father haha

  • Karan says:

    Hey.. nice article. I often get really deep trips when I smoke ganja, like i keep thinking for hours, one thought knitting after the other, whereas hash always gives an awesome feeling. Which type of weed is responsible for these deep trips? Also which one should I smoke when I want my brain to work properly and have more concentration, as it happens after smoking cannabis available here that I’m not able to reply to questions properly/smartly or can’t give longer answers? And then there is one type due to which sometimes I’ve achieved such fucking awesome trips that I defeated table tennis pros with a score of even 21-5. Really keen to know the difference b/w Sativa and Indica on these aspects. Much love for the herb from India. <3

    • Mary Jane says:

      Sativas are typically seen as a head high, and indicas are typically more of a body high. The truth is, each one affects people differently so I would just try both to see how your body reacts. You and a friend could smoke the same weed and have different effects.

  • Ginger says:

    Sativa in the a.m.
    India in the p.m.

  • Ace says:

    Honestly or depends on what the day consists of for me. I always end my day with some lovely relaxing indica…

  • Jack Straw says:

    I’ve been looking for a really good, euphoric/analgesic strain. Blue Heaven comes highly recommended but, as I understand, the seeds just aren’t available and aquiring clones is, well, problematic. Are you aware of a strain that comes close?

    By the way, glad I found this site. It’s excellent. I’ll probably check in regularly!

    • Mary Jane says:

      Blue Heaven is a sativa dominant hybrid. I would continue to look along those lines. Blue Heaven is very similar to Blue Dream – perhaps you could find that a bit easier since it’s a more popular strain. Gorilla Glue is another strain that comes to mind. It’s one of my favorite strains and often possesses the qualities you mentioned. A few other strains you may be interested in are Jack Herer and Pineapple Express. I hope this helps. Cheers!

  • Le Roi says:

    This was a very enjoyable and informative read. I am so giddy as I just harvested my very first plant and I have been using herb for 40 years. She was such a cute plant in how she started making a single flower almost right from the beginning when she was only a foot high.. After planting her in my girlfriend’s herb garden, two months later and I have a plant with hardly any excess leaves and just all buds (about 3 ounces). Should last me for the next three years st the rate I vape and bake (double use!). Also, I’ve become a bit tired of the indica’s that seem to be mostly sold in my networks. This special “gift” plant (one little seed I happened to find in a bag), is definitely a sativa and brings back memories of my teen Colombian Gold days….

  • mide says:

    I love this!!

  • I love Indica’s physical effects and flavor, but I’m always in search of mind boost from sativa strains. Im always on the go and should be alert at all times since I’m a nurse and I have to attend to all my patient’s needs. What’s your favorite strain?

  • Tim says:

    I would like to know if Sativa comes in an edible form or if it is compromised being made into an edible? I do not like the idea of smoking either but enjoy the effects. Someone told me that only indica is potent as an edible is this true? Or what exactly happens when you make them an edible or an oil? Thanks very good information here.

  • Stormey says:

    Sativa all the way for me. It’s a clear headed high and I love the energy!! Indica makes me too paranoid. I can’t sleep on either though, my brain will not turn off when I’m high.

  • Pixie says:

    Hello. I was a smoker years ago when I didn’t have a clue what strain i was smoking. I noticed a few times all I wanted to do is eat. Are there strains now that will not cause me to be hungry? I’m having weight issues due to certain prescribed pharmaceutical medication and would like to replace it with marijuana but, I don’t want to gain anymore weight!

    • Mary Jane says:

      Try finding a strain with decent CBD content. It should help, but it’s really about finding which strain works best for you since everyone is different. Cheers!

      • Anonymous says:

        I’ve got a Swazi seedles plant in my garden,the heads as big as my fist and the sativa plant is 2months old. How do I dry it ? Would realy like to roll a joint.
        Louis. South Africka

  • First time on site . Just came from dispensary been going a year. I smoke for 30 yrs I worked film ind so imagine 70s thru 2000 Worked in hollywood lots of whatever you got. Anyway I finally know the difference between sativa and indica , because of this site thank you. And have to agree indica way better for me then sativa. I have bad anxiety so indica all the way love it. And thank you so much , I’ve feel blessed I found this website . THANK YOU SO MUCH EVERYONE

  • C. Jenks says:

    I’ve been in a lot of pain from my knees, back and now my hips. My daughter is in the medical industry and asked me to consider and read your website Wow this has been eye opening Thanks I’ve never done this but…. I have now something to work from.

  • Patti says:

    I’ve learned soo much reading your blog . Now I know when I smoke certain weed I get so sleepy.
    Thank you very much and keep up the good work/information

  • Kiss Cake says:

    QUESTION… ARE ALL INDICA GROWN UNDER HYDROPHONIC?

  • Chris says:

    Thank you so much for the thoughtful blog. I’m a bit of a nerd….and folks have been talking about learning a strain’s chemical profile….THC, CBD , terpenes, etc…it is a cool idea….because if you know the ratios of the cannabinoids….and the relative strengths…you can choose a matching strain with some confidence that you will like it as well. Do you know where i might get the chemical profiles/breakdowns of the most famous strains?….and i am now guessing indicas either have more THC….or it is somehow more bioavailable to metabolize than Sativas….Is this true? Thankyou…Happy New Year

    • Mary Jane says:

      Thanks for stopping by my blog! The THC content can be high in both sativas and indicas. What’s interesting to me is all the other cannabinoids in cannabis. We don’t know exactly why each strain gives off its effects, but I think as we begin to look deeper into the other cannabinoids (and terpenes for that matter), we’ll begin to understand them a lot more. It’s only been recent that laws have made it possible for independent labs to test cannabis legally. I think in the next few years we are going to learn a lot more. I wish I had a better answer for you, but that’s all I currently know. I’m going to do some more research and see if I can come up with something more substantial. Cheers :)

  • Saloni Thumar says:

    I don’t actually know what i actually smoke! But i really know everything about what i am smoking! I mean if i have the knowledge of weed atleast i can you know showoff to my friends who are smokers too! I live in india and its not legal here and i am getting addicted to it. I want to be proud of my smoking up habbits :)

    • Balaji Kartha says:

      There is no reason to be ashamed of smoking / using cannabis – however I will admit it is safer to keep it a secret and not share this information with anyone!
      This (wonder) plant is has been maligned and given such a bad name that anyone known using it is considered a failure in life!
      I know this is perverted and self defeating, but I do not see this attitude changing any time soon.

  • Balaji Kartha says:

    Your research (and information) is amazing .. and one thing I realised after reading your analysis is that in most places where legal commercial cultivation is not allowed, Indica has become the preferred strain / plant .. which in turn makes cannabis to be associated only with laziness, sloth and uselessness. It almost looks like a self-fulfilling prophecy!

    But it great to see serious and authentic work being done on this (wonder) plant by people like you and I wish you all the very best. My only regret is that we will not see this (urgent) natural medicine be totally legalised the world over in our lifetime!

  • Mr. Nice guy says:

    Very helpful thanks for the info

  • Nikunj Barnwal says:

    Spelling of ‘relieve’ in the 7th point

  • Qintao says:

    we plant sativa here in nigeria, it’s amazin’ how sativa works. alwaz boost ur thought, want u to know more.

  • Miss Lisa says:

    Thank you so much for the information on the difference between indica and sativa. Looking at the origins makes since to me. I smoked for a long time growing up and the choices we had were Columbian, Mexican and Thaistick. Oh wait there was also oaxacan. Mexican was always considered the skank weed. Columbian was good but if you got Thai or Oaxacan that was a party! But we only paid maybe $25 for either a 3 finger or four finger lid. I myself prefer the outdoorsy piney way over sativa over indica. The taste is better but burns faster. I had had never heard of indica until I moved to California.

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