When you walk to your local cannabis dispensary, you’ll see hundreds of different strains in jars staying on the shelves. With names like Northern Lights, Buddha Cheese, or LA Kush, it’s hard to tell which strain is best for you.
That’s why it’s better to choose cannabis flowers by their genetics — using the indica vs. sativa classification system.
These two are the most common types of cannabis. Crossbreeding of marijuana strains has also given rise to a wide range of hybrid buds. Knowing the differences between cannabis indica and other strains will help you decide whether you want to bring home a resinous indica after the next chit-chat with your budtender.
Today, we’ll discuss the features of cannabis indica strains, including their origins, appearance, effects, and differences between the other types of marijuana.
What Is Cannabis Indica?
Cannabis indica is one of the varieties that derives from the Cannabis plant family. Cannabis is an umbrella term that covers both hemp and marijuana — including both indica and sativa strains.
Cannabis indica plants have their own distinct morphology, including chemical profile, plant size, leaf shape, and resin production.
When speaking about original Indica strains, people often use the term “landrace.” Landrace indica plants have originated near Central Asia, spreading to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Morocco, Turkey, India, and Nepal.
“Landrace” means that the strain has adapted to local conditions and evolved in a natural way to grow in their specific climates. The average latitude of landrace strains is between 30 and 50 degrees.
However, the majority of indica strains you’ll find in a dispensary aren’t pure landrace indicas. They are often indica-dominant hybrids created by crossing two or more individual strains.
In fact, landrace strains are rarely found in commercial stores, as they now mostly exist as heirloom strains.
What Does It Look Like?
Cannabis indica plants are typically short and bulky. They resemble a bush rather than a tree. As for the buds, these are also densely packed and full of resin, which is probably due to the fact that they needed to protect themselves against their natural predators and harsh climates. Cannabis indica plant also grow broader leaves — a great support for the popcorn-like flowers that are definitely much more appealing than most sativa buds.
When you open a bag of a pure indica strain, you’ll most likely feel kushy notes with earthy undertones, sometimes with hints of diesel. Cannabis indica plants are considered more pungent than sativas, whose smell is more refreshing and redolent of citrus and pine trees.
Due to their short size (up to 6 feet), indica strains are best suited for indoor cultivation. They need about 40–50 days to finish flowering and become ready for harvest. Indica plants won’t give you as generous yields as sativas, but they make up for it with the density of flowers and their intense resin production.
What Are the Typical Effects of Cannabis Indica?
The effects of cannabis indica strains are mostly body-focused, without the cerebral stimulation induced by sativa strains. Marijuana consumers often describe it as producing a “couch-lock” effect, making many people seek refuge in the nearest sofa. Most users prefer indica effects in the evening or before going to bed.
The effect profile of indicas typically involve feelings of deep, physical relaxation, relief from muscle tension, serene mood, and a significant boost of appetite.
Medical cannabis patients also often use cannabis indica to treat specific illnesses and conditions. Most commonly, people consume indica strains for insomnia, chronic pain, eating disorders, and anxiety.
However, when it comes to the medical effects of different cannabis strains, researchers are still debating on the accuracy of the indica vs. sativa system — pointing to CBD to THC ratios and the amount of terpenes as more important factors for determining potential therapeutic effects.
Scientific literature also shows that indica strains have more CBD than their sativa counterparts. CBD is where researchers believe lies the lion’s share of the benefits linked to using cannabis plants. It carries remarkably strong anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, and anti-seizure properties — without making the user feel high.
What’s the Difference Between Cannabis Indica and Cannabis Sativa?
Below you’ll find a table highlighting the key differences between cannabis indica and cannabis sativa strains:
|Cannabis indica||Cannabis sativa|
|1. Origin||Morocco, Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Nepal||Thailand, Colombia, Mexico, Vietnam|
|2. Appearance||Short plants with broad leaves and bulky, resinous buds||Tall plants with thin leaves, fluffy, conical buds, and soft seeds|
|3. Growth characteristics||Best suited for indoor cultivation because it grows up to 6 feet, produces smaller yields with higher resin production, takes 40–50 days to be ready for harvest after the flowering stage||Better suited for outdoor spaces because it grows up to 25 feet, needs about 60–90 days to be ready for harvest after flowering, providing greater yields|
|4. Effects||Body relaxation, pain relief, reduced inflammation, reduced physical tension, appetite boost, sedation — better for evening use||Cerebral stimulation, euphoria, creativity, chattiness, productivity, improved focus — better for morning or daytime use|
|5. Medical applications||Most commonly used to treat inflammation, anxiety, chronic pain, and sleep disorders.||Most commonly used to fight fatigue, lethargy, mood swings, depression, anxiety, cognitive problems, and attention-deficit disorders.|
Who Should Use Indica Strains?
There’s a wide range of consumers who can benefit from toking on an indica strain, primarily thanks to their body high. Indica is best used for:
- Stress relief
- Utter relaxation
- Sedation and sleepiness
- Physical soothness
Indica strains are also the go-to choice for many athletes. The physical relaxation induced by this variety of marijuana can help after activities like rock-climbing, hiking, and cross-training to improve recovery.
Others find relief in indica strains when it comes to chronic health concerns. Finally, an indica bud is a great companion for nights spent on binge watching Netflix or reading books.
Popular Indica Strains
Although there are hundreds of indica flowers to choose from in dispensaries, current indica strains have all grown from original Central Asian landraces.
Here are some of the most popular indica strains on the market as of this writing:
- Mazar I Sharif
- Skywalker OG
- Granddaddy Purple
- Northern Lights
- Platinum OG
- Bubba kush
- King Louis XIII
Learn More About Cannabis Indica Strains from a First-hand Experience
Want to buy premium-quality legal weed near you? Or want to learn more about everything related to cannabis? There’s always more to see on our blog — and if you want to learn what the best indica strains feel like, feel free to browse our selection of cannabis flowers.
Do you like cannabis indica strains? Which one is your favorite?