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Indica vs. Sativa | 20 Differences Between Sativa & Indica Strains

Indica vs. sativa

What’s the first thing you do when you decide which marijuana strain to try? For many, it’s whether to get a Sativa or Indica. Marijuana enthusiasts know Sativa and Indica as very common distinctions.

Sativa is energizing, stimulating, and buzzy, while Indica is for chilling out, unwinding, relaxing, or falling asleep. But is there actually any distinct difference between the two? Where did these terms originate, and what actually do they mean?

The widespread popularity of marijuana brings throngs of uneducated consumers to dispensaries. We hope to help consumers make their buying decision with a little more education under their belt.

Keep scrolling as we tell you the real story of Indica vs. Sativa. Here, we will let you know all the information about both so that you may choose the best marijuana strain for your needs.


Sativa vs. Indica: Comparative Analysis

Scroll down to understand more about Indica and Sativa. And how are they different in appearance, growth patterns, and also the effects they produce after you consume them?


Indica vs. Sativa: The Difference in Size

Indica heightens rapidly once flowering starts. However, in normal circumstances, it must not grow out of control. It increases its vegetated height by a factor of 50-100% during the flowering period.

In tropical regions, as the days are relatively short, so Sativa grows and flowers simultaneously, unlike the distinct blooming and vegetative stages that Indica has.

In an indoor flowering cycle, Sativa grows and flowers at the same time as it might in its native environment.

Sativa heightens rapidly once flowering starts and often continues to gain height throughout the blooming phase.

It is normal for Sativa to gain 200-300% of its vegetative height during flowering.


The Difference in Physical Appearance

With fragrant, heavy, dense buds, Indicas are stocky and compact.

A cannabis plant produces nodes at regular intervals along its stems, and these nodes are the sites at which buds, branches, and leaves form. Indica bud tends to grow in denser clusters around the stem and branches’ nodes, with relatively short spaces between each cluster. People know them as internodal gaps.

Sativa grows taller than Indica, given the same conditions.

Sativa bud tends to grow larger than Indica, as it runs along the length of a branch instead of clustering around the nodes. However, it usually weighs less than Indica when dry due to its lower density.

Moreover, Sativa buds have a less striking odor, both when growing and when dry.


Indica vs. Sativa: What Are The Origins?


Cannabis Indica

Most Indicas come from the Indian Subcontinent and Central Asia – Nepal, Tibet, Northern India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and so on.


Cannabis Sativa

Generally, Sativa originates in the equatorial regions – Mexico, Jamaica, Southern India, Thailand, and so forth.


Flowering Time

Indica usually has a flowering time of 45 to 60 days as it is the faster flowering variety.

A significant difference between Indica and Sativa is that Sativa takes much longer to flower. Usually, it needs from 60 to 90 days to finish blooming.

However, it needs a lesser time period for vegetative growth before flowering than Indica does. Thus, Sativas require about the same overall time as Indicas. However, it’s sometimes less in terms of ‘light hours.’


Comparative Sativa vs Indica Chart





Long, thing and light color leafs

Airy and tall buds

Taller and less dense

Short, wide and deep color leafs

Dense and plump buds

Shorter and bushier


8-15 feet tall

10-16 weeks flowering time

Ideal climate 30 degrees

2-6 feet tall

6-8 weeks flowering time

Ideal climate 30 -50 degrees


Mind Energizing

Stimulating head high

Fights depression

Energetic & creative

better for daytime

Mind relaxing

Couch-lock body high

Relieves body pain

Sedative effects

Better for the night


More phycoactive

Stimulating efects

Less phycoactive

Realaxing efects

Used to Treat





Certain forms of cancer

Chronic pain



Muscle spams

Multiple sclerosis


Indica vs. Sativa Effects

New evidence suggests that the cause of the difference between the two is not what we think!

It may be tough to grasp for individuals who never have used psychoactive things. Perhaps the most profound yet trickiest to explain, the difference between Sativa and Indica cannabis strains is their effect.


What is Sativa?

Imagine a pot leaf. Is it tall and spindly? If so, it is a Sativa leaf.


Sativa Plant

Sativa plant is far more indigenous to a warm climate with long summers. It takes a long time to fully flower. The plant grows far taller than an Indica plant, and the leaves are much thinner than Indica leaves. That height can make it difficult for Sativa to be grown indoors.


Sativa Effects

Sativa causes cerebral effects that make it perfect for the daytime. These effects are far more refreshing, making you feel more alert and uplifting to tackle a creative endeavor or physical activity.

Medically, the Sativa effects help with not only pain but attention disorders, depression, and anxiety. One explanation for Sativa strains is that they cause these effects and potential medical benefits are cannabinoids like CBD and THC- specifically, Sativa strains have higher concentrations of THC.

Another is the terpenes. Cannabis terpenes could possibly produce the effects that include limonene, which has shown potential for anti-depression benefits, and pinene, which has anti-inflammatory properties.


What is Indica?

Again, imagine a pot leaf. What does it look like? If it’s shorter and wider, it’s Indica.


Indica Plant

The short stature and broad leaves of an Indica plant are because of its short flowering season. The flowering season may make it more popular for growing and an easy choice for growing weed in a less hot climate. As one season turns to another, you will have an in-bloom Marijuana Indica than Sativa.

Additionally, the plantation of Indica usually leads to greater yields than Sativa.


Indica Effects

Indica is ideal for nighttime use. It has similar effects to a sedative, good for relaxation or trying to sleep. Part of this lore is that Indica has lower concentrations of THC and higher concentrations of CBD.

That effect on the body can also be of great help for pain relief and relaxation element. This means that it is recommendable for anxiety, an important part of the medical cannabis push. Besides, it is an appetite stimulant for some.

Furthermore, Indica strains give users more of a body high than a head high.

In addition to bringing an earthy aroma, terpene myrcene can have sedating effects.

Another terpene that is common in strains that are advertised as an Indica is a linalool, which, in addition to sedating, helps relieve anxiety.


Sativa vs. Indica: Some Facts and Myths

Myth: There’s pure Indica, pure Sativa, and then Hybrids.

Fact: All modern marijuana cultivation is ‘hybrid.

Myth: ‘Sativa’ means stimulating, ‘Indica’ means sedative.

Fact: The terms​ Sativa and Indica​ actually refer to plant biology, not the effects.


Indica or sativa


Sativa vs. Indica: Strains


Indica Strains

Typically, Indica cannabis plants grow in the dry, harsh climates of the Middle East. Physically, they are bushy and short, having broad, dark green leaves. The buds are a lot denser in Indica versus Sativa plants.

Indica effects focus more on the body. This is why you hear this referred to as “couch-lock” as it may cause a “body high.”

As Indica strains are relaxing, they’re perfect for nighttime consumption. Their consumption during the day may cause drowsiness at unwanted times.


Popular Indica Cannabis Strains

There are various Indica cannabis strains available. Some of the most popular strains are:

Some strains grow better in particular locations than others. Local popularity may vary based on availability.


Why Do People Commonly Use Indica Strains?

There are several reasons people prefer Indica strains over other options. Some consumers just want a body high rather than a head high. Other reasons for Indica strains consumption include:

  • Reduce anxiety symptoms
  • Help ease insomnia symptoms
  • Increase appetite
  • Reduce nausea
  • To relieve body pain (especially muscle pain)

Most Indicas have an even amount of THC and CBD.


Sativa Strains

Sativa cannabis strain grows in hotter areas and does well with high humidity levels. Commonly, you may find the growth of Sativa strains in Southeast Asia, South America, and Central America.

Physically, Sativa strains are taller, slender plants featuring skinny leaves that are generally light green.

The effects of Sativa are centered around the mind. This is why it offers a “head high.”

Smoking Sativa helps people focus better and feel more energy. This makes Sativa strains perfect for daytime consumption since consuming them at night may cause insomnia.


Popular Sativa Cannabis Strains

There are a variety of Sativa cannabis strains available. Some of the most popular strains are:

Some strains may be more prevalent in particular areas. Many times, the availability of a strain affects its popularity.


Why Do People Use Sativa?

People use Sativa cannabis strains for many reasons. Few choose the head high over the ‘body high’ that comes from Indica strains. Some other reasons why people pick a Sativa strain are:

  • Help focus better
  • Help combat appetite loss
  • Decrease nausea
  • Ease headaches
  • Help ease depression symptoms

The reason Sativa may help with these issues is that the strains have low amounts of CBD and high amounts of THC.


Indica sativa


Indica vs. Sativa: a Quick Comparison

In summary, Indica strains are generally used for “night smoking,” while Sativa strains are generally used for “day smoking.”

But more so, it’s essential to learn that marijuana comes in an amazing range and combination of potency, effects, and strains. And, not all of the strains fall into 100% Indica or 100% Sativa.


So Indica or Sativa? Last Thoughts

Conclusively, this article outlines the differences between Indica and Sativa cannabis plants.

Although learning the distinction between species of cannabis may not be very clear-cut, the takeaway of this guide is that trying to explain the effects of marijuana strains by naming them Indicas or Sativas is an outdated concept.

Even trying to explain a particular strain’s effects has its problems since different people experience changes to their endocannabinoid system differently, Sativa and Indica alike.

Indeed, it’s a simple topic to get lost on, but there’s a lot of conflicting information available without any solid scientific evidence backing it up. We hope this article on the main subspecies of marijuana has left you feeling more enlightened than confused.

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