By LeeWEpstein

March 2, 2020

Cannabis is one of the most unique plants in the plant kingdom because of its botanical and chemical characteristics, as well as its usefulness in the treatment of certain diseases.

Despite the great debate over the existence of one or more species. The consensus is that there are two basic classifications of cannabis: Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica.

We will tell you how to recognize Sativa cannabis varieties based on their morphological appearance, cannabinoid profile, and effects.
When selecting the ideal cannabis variety for your needs. You should understand that we are generally talking about three different types of cannabis: Sativa, Indica and hybrids.

Sativa and Indica strains will have their characteristics and cannabinoid profiles, while hybrids combine the characteristics of both. Thus, when you grow or buy a cannabis variety, you will have clear labeling as Sativa or Indica, depending on which characteristics are dominant.

The differences between Indica and Sativa

To understand the difference between Sativa and Indica, Sativas are generally more vigorous and energizing, while Indica is more relaxing. But it’s not as simple as that, because plants have varying effects, even within the same type of cannabis. As you know, it all depends on the dose, the chemical composition of the plant, the type of user and the cultivation technique.

So if we look at the composition of Indica and Sativa, the terpenes and the cannabinoids, there’s no reason why one type would be sedative and the other invigorating. What we do know, however, is that Indica and Sativa cannabis varieties are different in appearance and growth.

The scientific name of Sativa cannabis

The term Sativa has been present in the cannabis lexicon since 1753 when Swedish botanist Carl von Linné identified psychoactive cannabis plants as Cannabis Sativa L. in his work “Species Plantarum. 32 years later, the French biologist Jean-Baptiste de Lamarck would identify Indica cannabis as a different species during an observation of the physical characteristics of cannabis plants in India.

Jean-Baptiste claimed that Indica cannabis plants had large, dark green leaves while Sativa cannabis plants were light and thin. Later, in 1930, Russian botanist Dmitri Yanishevski would finally identify Ruderalis cannabis as a third subspecies.

Thus, Sativa cannabis identified for the first time, using the Latin term “Sativa” (satīvus), a plant intentionally cultivated by man, mainly in Europe and Western Eurasia, where it planted for its fibers and seeds.

Indica cannabis got this name because of its origins near the Indus River, a river located near the mountains . ” The Hindu Kush in the western Himalayas.”

How do you recognize a Sativa cannabis plant?

Today, the name Cannabis Sativa L. used to refer to a species of cannabis that includes cannabis and hemp varieties from warmer, drier climates with long sunny days.

Thus, Sativa genetics come from countries close to the equator, such as Jamaica, Colombia, Mexico, Thailand or Southeast Asia. Even today, they still grow wild in many humid and tropical regions of the world.


All of this helps us understand why the structure of a Sativa cannabis plant is open and airy, and that this is no coincidence. A useful distinguishing factor to easily differentiate Sativa from other subspecies is its majestically large and somewhat elongated size. A true cannabis tree with branches that grow upwards, while its hand-shaped leaves are long and narrow.

Unlike Indica, whose flowers clustered around the nodes, with Sativa cannabis plants the flowers will start at the nodes and spread over all the stems.

The aim is to avoid moisture build-up and the appearance of pathogens while providing good ventilation during hot periods. In addition, an open structure is an advantage in the face of strong winds. The thin leaflets also reduce perspiration and provide good ventilation on hot days.

Flowering and growth

Sativa cannabis plants have a much longer vegetative period than Indica. And will take between 10 and 16 weeks to reach full maturity during the flowering period. Sativa plants have adapted to continue to grow during flowering due to their equatorial origins. Where all the genes are exposed to an almost unchanged amount of light throughout the year, about 16 hours a day. This growth pattern will lengthen the flowering period of the plants until they burst into a multitude of long, loosely packed buds.

Scent and Flavour

Sativa varieties are generally spicier, thanks to different terpene profiles producing aromas that can range from citrus to earthy or spicy notes.

Sativas tend to contain a higher concentration of terpenes such as pinene and limonene. Which can create a euphoric and stimulating experience. They do, however, contain low concentrations of terpenes such as myrcene. Which are common in Indica strains and have sedative effects. There are always exceptions to the rule and different phenotypes of the same variety will have different concentrations of terpenes. But the distinction in the mixture of these terpenes can help in understanding the differences between Sativa and Indica.


Similarly, cannabinoid profiles can vary considerably depending on the plant. But compared to Indica strains, Sativas will generally contain a higher concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and less cannabidiol (CBD). They are also naturally richer in tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV).

In the case of Sativa, the sun may be responsible for the higher THC content. Which would act as protection against excessive ultraviolet radiation. Thus, plants from sunnier regions are more potent and their effects are more complex.

The effects of cannabis Sativa

The cannabinoid profiles of Sativa cannabis are known to cause stimulating mental effects that will help users regain concentration and motivation. The euphoric response of Sativa cannabis is often cerebral . Also is believed to encourage conversation and enhance creativity. Hence its use in the middle of the day for conversation or certain artistic tasks.

Sativa is therefore characterized by a euphoric effect and is often used by people suffering from mental illness or mood disorders. Such as anxiety, depression or attention deficit disorder (ADHD). They can also be beneficial against loss of appetite and reduce body fat in some cases of obesity.

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