Indica vs Sativa vs Hybrid

You’ve probably heard of different marijuana strains classified as either Indica or Sativa. Do you, however, know what these classifications mean? Indica and Sativa cannabis was initially the only variants of cannabis available until growers began to get creative and crossbred strains of different classes. The results of these interclass crossbreeding are referred to as hybrids. The different classes of cannabis plants have varying characteristics, with some consumers preferring Sativa, Indica, or hybrid strains. An explanation of the different strain types, along with their differences, is contained in this write-up. 

Cannabis Indica

Indica cannabis plants are usually shorter, with broader leaves than their Sativa cousins, making them a favorite of indoor growers with limited vertical space. They are native to Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, and Turkey. Most Indica plants are resilient and tough due to the harsh growing conditions they have to endure. Indicas are more suited to be used at night, with most consumers of Indica strains making use of them when they want to relax or sleep. Indicas are popular for their couchlock effect, where the smoker is rendered incapable of getting off the couch due to being stoned. This makes Indicas a favorite for people that take marijuana to combat chronic pain or insomnia. 

Cannabis Sativa

Sativa marijuana plants grow taller than Indica variants, with some reaching 20 feet in height. This variant grows in warm and dry climates like Africa, Southeast and Western Asia, and Central and Southern America. While not all Sativa strains will have the same effect on their user, they are often used by those who want an energetic high. Sativa strains are also believed to have a stimulating effect that helps to eliminate stress and anxiety. Unlike Indica strains used when one needs to relax, Sativa strains are used when one needs to get work done or party hard. 


Hybrid strains are crossbred from both Sativa and Indica strains, and they can have characteristics of either of the strain types. A hybrid strain’s effect on you depends on those of its parents. Cannabis breeders are working towards growing hybrid strains that are all-encompassing. 

Origin of marijuana strain types

Cannabis plants have been grown as far back as 12,000 years ago. It wasn’t until the 18th century that the different types of strains were distinguished. The Sativa variant was the first to receive its name when a Swedish botanist, Carl Linnaeus, named it after the Latin word for ‘cultivated.’ At the time, Linnaeus did not know any other variant of cannabis. He believed the Sativa, which he had named the only type of cannabis plant. It wasn’t until 1785, more than 30 years later, that the Indica variant got its name. French naturalist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck discovered a shorter cannabis variant with broader and darker leaves than the Sativa and decided to name it Indica, referring to its intoxicating effect on the Indian natives. Hybrids didn’t come to be until much later when breeders began to crossbreed cannabis variants. 

Differences between Indica and Sativa 

Indica and Sativa cannabis plants have distinct features that set them apart. They have different appearances and effects.


It can be quite difficult to tell cannabis variants apart based on appearance, and only some skilled growers can do this from a distance. Most people will have to examine the plants closely to tell them apart. Cannabis Sativa plants are slim and tall, with loose and light buds compared to their Indica cousins. When Sativa plants flower, the flowers grow along the branches with some distance between each flower. When they finally bud, the buds have a red or orange tint. Indica plants, on the other hand, are shorter and broader, with their buds growing closer together. Their buds also grow to have a purplish tint,


While Sativas and Indicas are expected to have certain effects, this is not always the case. The concentration of cannabinoids and terpenes present in the strain, which is usually different from one strain to the next, determines its effect on the user. 

Although there are more than 100 known cannabinoids in cannabis plants, the two major ones are THC and CBD, with THC being the more popular of the two. THC is responsible for the high feeling you experience when you smoke a joint. On the other hand, CBD mainly provides relief for pain and anxiety without any intoxicating effect. It is popularly believed that Indica strains contain more THC while Sativa strains contain CBD in abundance. However, this is not 100% true as different strains have varying concentrations of CBD and THC.

It is logical to believe that cannabis strains with higher concentrations of THC will provide users with a stronger high than those with a lower concentration. In contrast, CBD-rich strains will provide users with a more relaxing effect. However, this is not always the case due to the presence of another compound in cannabis plants. Terpenes are aromatic compounds found not only in cannabis but also in fruits and some other plants. Besides giving the marijuana plant its unique flavor and smell, terpenes also determine how the cannabinoids present in the strain affect the user. Sweet fruity flavors were initially attributed to Indicas, while Sativas were associated with pine and earth aromas. The flavor and scent of a marijuana plant, however, depends on its terpenes, and this varies from strain to strain regardless of whether they are Indicas or Sativas. 

Choosing the Right Cannabis Strain

Choosing the right cannabis strain depends on your personal preference and your specific needs. For beginners, strains with more CBD than THC are advised. This is to help regulate the euphoria you experience when you consume cannabis. Hybrids with equal quantities of THC and CBD are often advised when you want to relax. These will keep you relaxed without knocking you out completely. Pure Sativas are, however, advised for those who require an energy boost due to their high THC and low CBD concentration. To knock you out completely, for example, if you have problems sleeping, pure Indica strains should be your go-to as they will keep you couch-locked for a few hours. 


When shopping for marijuana strains, you should try as much as possible to not shop according to whether a strain is an Indica or a Sativa. Unless you are shopping to plant, you will want to buy Indica seeds if you have limited vertical height. Outdoor growers can typically buy either Indica or Sativa seeds. Your purchase decision should be based on the effects you would like to experience, in which case you can discuss with your supplier the effects you want and try out different recommendations. Today, reach out to Herbies for the best quality Indica, Sativa, and hybrid strains. 

Related Stories