Differences between Cannabis Indica and Sativa
Cannabis is a psychoactive, herbaceous, annual plant, of the Urticales (nettles) order and belongs to the Cannabaceae family. Its origins bring us near the Himalaya mountains, between China and India, where from it extended to the rest of the world making viable its growing thanks to the infinity of medicinal, recreational and industrial uses that have this millennial plant.
Cannabis sativa (mainly coming from tropical areas such as South and Central America, Africa, Thailand and South of India) was classified for the first time in 1753 by the Swedish scientist, naturalist and zoologist Carl Nilsson Linaeus, who suggested the current binomial of nomenclature diagram.
On the other hand, Indica Cannabis, comes from the Himalaya mountains (Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc. ) and was described and classified for the first time by the French naturalist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck in 1783, who also developed the first evolution theory.
A third and last sort, of which later was created the automatic marijuana strains, coming from Russia and North Kazakhstan was discovered in 1924 by the Russian botanist D.E. Janischevisky and called cannabis Ruderalis.
Differences between Cannabis Sativa, Indica and Ruderalis
Next we show you the main differences that exist between the Indica and Sativa marijuana strains of which were born all the hybrids that we find on the market today. These purebred species have very different traits, which combined and mixed between them, give rise to impressive hybrids. We also have to bear in mind that we speak about living beings with genetic information (genotype) with different expressions in respect of morphology (phenotypes), so there can always be similarities and differences in a greater or lesser extent between specimens of different sort.
Hybrids combine Indica and Sativa traits
The cannabis seed
Even if this is a method that needs experience and it isn’t always valid, the aspect of the marijuana seeds can give us a clue of the origin of the variety from which the seeds come. Frequently, the Indica cannabis varieties usually has big and oval seeds, black or very dark brown striped. On the contrary, many seeds of Sativa genetics has rounder shape, with a noticeably lesser size and in many occasions, without being striped.
As you can guess, the hybrids – which form the big range of strains for sale on the market – has seeds mixed with both groups of genetic traits. Remember that sometimes this classification system can fail, so the best we can do if we want to know with certainty the genetics is to germinate the seed and observe its pattern of growth and flowering.
The growth phase
Cannabis plants in growth tell us many things about their genetic origins; Indica cannabis plants tend to have a slower growth than Sativas, a fact that in some varieties and/or specimens, can be a problem if you want to have a mother plant to make clones or if you sow late outdoors (or they received enough weeks of growth indoors). Indicas develop strong stems and branches and a structure that remembers to a Christmas tree, with a prominent main stem surrounded by relatively short secondary branches. They usually reach a moderate heigt.
The distance between the inter-nodes usually is short (sometimes very short, barely 1 cm) and the leaves are wide and relatively short, with width leaflets and a dark green colour. These are plants traditionally used for the elaboration of hashish, with a considerable resin production.
Indica marijuana leaf
On the other hand, Sativa plants grow vigorously, reaching tall, especially if they are planted directly in ground. Its stems are much longer and flexible than those of the Indica strains, developing candelabrum-like structure, where the secondary branches are almost as long as the main one. The intermodal distance lengthens, while the sheets are big and long, of a pale green colour, with long and slim leaflets. Normally, this type of plant needs to be wired to plant stakes for a correct flowering, in contrary the branches can bend and break due to the weight of the buds.
The flowering phase
During this period, the plant develops the buds or flowers, giving us still more evidence of their genetics. The Indica strains tend to be more sensitive to the change of photoperiod, therefore they begins their flowering phase sooner than Sativa strains. Likewise Indicas barely grow during this phase (usually they double their height), while the Sativas grow much more and can quadruple their size during flowering. The Indicas often take several weeks less in bloom than the Sativas: The earliest Indica can be harvested with 7 weeks of flowering while some Sativas can stretch at this stage up to 20 weeks or more.
Amnesika 2.0 in flowering
Indicas usually create more compact buds than Sativas that develop more elongated and airy flowers. For this reason, the first ones are much more sensitive to attack by fungi and rottenness.
The feeding of the plant
Una correcta nutrición da lugar a estupendos cogollos
Although whenever we treat with purebred varieties we must keep in mind that they are genetics accustomed – in many cases – to limited watering and poor soils, we also can observe, in broad strokes, differences in respect of their ability to absorb nutrients.
It isn’t difficult to see how the Indica strains accept larger nutrient quantities than Sativas. The latter ones are more sensitive to over-fertilization than the first ones, especially during the growth stage. They are also more complicated to feed than the Indicas, in part because its flowering tends to be much longer, giving time to appear various nutritional imbalances that the grower must correct on the fly.
To regulate the pH and EC level of the nutrient solution will greatly help us detect and control these imbalances.
The flavour of the buds
Although as any grower will, each strain is a world in terms of taste and smell, within the organoleptic range that gives us cannabis we can find characteristic features of the Indica and Sativa varieties.
Normally, earthy, moss, sweet and fruity flavours and aromas are identified usually, to Indica genetics, while many Sativas presents woody, incense or metal undertones. Saying this, we don’t mean that it’s possible to find a sweet and fruity Sativa but these features repeat in multitude of specimens of every species. The strain of marijuana Tropimango is a clear example of a sweet and fruity Indica predominant strain.
Hybrids and poly-hybrids allow us to make absolutely spectacular organoleptic combinations, where many of these traits were mixed and fused together to offer a rich range of possibilities.
K13 Haze, mainly Sativa strain
The effect of cannabis
The effects of the cannabis are determined by infinity of factors: growing conditions, feeding, point of harvest, drying and curing, combination of cannabinoids and terpenes, etc. Nevertheless, the effect that produces a bud when it’s smoked is usually one of the best indicatives of the kind of marijuana that we are consuming, especially if we only want to differ between Indica and Sativa strains.
Indicas tend to have a narcotic and sedative, very physical effect. They are ideal to relax and “get away” and also to combat various diseases and sufferings such as stress, insomnia, muscle pain, joint pain, appetite lack, and much more.
On the other side, Sativas tend to have a much more cerebral, energetic and creative effect. There are varieties that stimulate the consumer and motivate him to perform tasks. Sometimes they can cause anxiety or paranoia, although that always depends greatly on the mood of the user. Medicinally, they are perfect for combating depression and apathy, also suitable for treating eating disorders. We found examples of mainly Sativa strains in genetics as the K13 Haze or Jack el Frutero.
We hope that this brief explanation has clarified your doubts among a kind of cannabis and another.
Strain Profile: French Macaron
The superb cookies genetics from California are simply too good not to develop a couple of sublime hybrids from. That’s why T.H.Seeds, the company responsible for the popular French Cookies strain, released the Cookies cross French Macaron, consisting of Gelato 33 x French Cookies. In search of an appropriate breeding partner, T.H.Seeds paired up with the Cookie Family, whose Gelato 33 is a delicious hybrid of Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies (a special GSC phenotype) and Sunset Sherbet (Girl Scout Cookies x Pink Panties). And with French Cookies having been developed by T.H.Seeds from a bag seed found in original GSC flowers, there’s a damn lot of Girl Scout Cookies contained in French Macaron!
As you probably are aware, a macaron is a French meringue-based pastry made from almond flour, available in diverse colors. So for a Cookies-dominant variety, this is a very suitable name that also implies that it produces very colorful plants. In addition, fittingly, French Macaron was bred in France by the French department of T.H.Seeds. This new indica-dominant plant brings together some of the best traits of the parental strains, such as the dense, tightly clustered, resin-dripping buds of French Cookies. With 500-600 grams per square meter (g/m2), yields are above average. The plants need to be flowered for nine weeks for such opulent results, but patience will pay off as the strain can potentially achieve heights of 35-45 inches. Comme il faut for a French gourmet treat, French Macaron offers both an exquisitely complex and unusual aroma merging notes of gas, musk and cream, “reminiscent of a sweet, creamy dessert,” raves T.H.Seeds about its creation, which is expected to elicit creativity and happiness. At the Expogrow 2017 fair in Spain, French Macaron instantly carried away the victory in the indica category, causing quite a stir shortly after its release.
For our report, we entrusted cultivation duties to the Doc, who happily took care of this new Cookies strain from T.H.Seeds. Two feminized seeds were germinated and quickly popped open. After a bit more than two and a half days, the two seedlings showed up above the ground. In their three weeks of vegetative stage, they displayed a decidedly indica-leaning growth pattern by becoming stocky and bushy, with tight internodal stacking, fairly wide leaves and thick main stems. Ultimately, they hadn’t grown beyond heights of 10 and 11 inches when the Doc moved them into flowering. “They’re beautifully uniform so far, just as is typical of T.H.Seeds,” he noted of his French Macarons.
Both plants revealed a willingness to bloom at just one week after having switched to a 12/12-hour light/dark photoperiod, and the Doc detected female pre-flowering. In the following weeks, they were stretching about two and half times their vegetative height, while still maintaining a bushy appearance. After four weeks of flowering, the Doc reported: “Still two absolutely homogeneous plants. There’s been dynamic outward side-branch growth, and they are meanwhile sprinkled with young, roundish flower heads, which, thanks to a very early resin-gland onset, are already enticingly glistening. Really looking great! And as we all know, weight gain will be on the agenda in flowering weeks four to six.”
A Carnival of Colors
Two weeks later, the Doc confirmed that “the plants got thick and also immensely resinous! The indica dominance is also reflected now by the shape of the flowers, as they are fat and bulbous.” Having been completely green in the vegetative stage, the two French Macaron plants now displayed a varied range of colors. Some of the older shade leaves turned purple to red in part or entirely, and with maturity drawing nearer, yellow was added to the mix, partly in an attractive striped pattern. The upper quarter of one plant turned completely purple, including the buds, while the other one was predominantly purple. According to the Doc, “These plants have put a multicolored garment on, oh so lovely! It’s one explosion of colors, as if they were celebrating carnival. And then there’s this massive silvery-white trichome coating on the calyxes, sugar leaves and partly even the shade leaves—what a drop-dead gorgeous view! Smell-wise, they’re matching T.H.Seeds’ description, exuding a heavy, sweetish and slightly tangy bouquet the distinguishing elements of which are gas and musk.”
Ripeness Comes Early
The two French Macaron plants had become almost identically tall at heights of a bit over two feet. To the Doc’s surprise, they turned ripe five days ahead of schedule—instead of on day 63, he could pull out his scissors on day 58 and cut his fully mature beauties up into their rock-hard flowering parts. That made the doyen of indoor growing enthuse, “That’s a rare case—the plants have finished almost one week earlier than officially stated and nevertheless are of jaw-dropping quality!” But also in terms of quantity, the French Macaron plant amazed the Doc: Their dry yields together amounted to a bodacious 178 grams—almost 90 grams per plant. “A fantastic achievement, given that relatively small plant size,” the Doc explained.
Consuming French Macaron
In their dry form, most of the buds had a bluish-violet appearance, overlaid by a now even more awesome looking frosting of resin with a white glow. “This stunning look almost had me drooling out of my mouth,” swooned the Doc before he grinded a French Macaron nugget for a vaporization test. It almost felt as though he’d get high from the super-heavy, pungent odor alone that was rising up, as that heavy sweet-and-tarty fragrance had further thickened over the drying process and now seemed like a concentrate to him. The olfactory sensation continued when he took his first puff off the vaporizer—the highly aromatic vapor covered his entire mouth in flavor molecules, leaving a long-lasting spicy-sweetish aftertaste. Exclaimed the Doc: “Delicious! This full-mouth taste reminds me of a good cigar.” Three deeply inhaled drafts were enough to make him feel the effect of French Macaron. It was as if someone had started to hypnotize him: He stared into space, zoned out and, after two more vapor clouds, drifted into a trance-like state, letting loose physically, too. Sorrows and stress completely melted away, and this mental and physical feeling of total ease made for a sense of overwhelming happiness and contentment arising from deep within him.
Of course he loved this state of mind and decided to listen to the “Classical music for dreaming” Spotify playlist via headphones, which was a perfect match, indulging his senses and further deepening his state of meditation that lasted for more than two hours.
“French Macaron undoubtedly is another stroke of genius by T.H.Seeds,” the Doc summarized. “These Cookies-dominant genetics offer a bewitching play of colors, high yields, and a top-notch taste and effect, leaving nothing more to be desired!”
Originally published in the November, 2019 issue of High Times magazine. Subscribe right here.