Indica vs. Sativa: How to Distinguish Between Cannabis Plants

Close-up of fresh cannabis plant on sunny day
Sativa typically has longer, narrower leaves that are a lighter shade of green. Morsa Images / Getty Images

Cannabis sativa plants are native to Central and South America as they thrive in hot, dry climates. Sativa plants grow tall with long, thin leaves and produce fluffy, sweet-smelling buds. Sativa strains tend to be THC-predominant, which is associated with a stimulating effect that may promote energy and creativity.

Since sativa strains have more THC (which can result in a “head high” and increased alertness), it is more commonly used recreationally and is not strongly recommended at night if you’re intending to get a full night’s sleep.

Sativa can increase energy and have uplifting or even euphoric effects, so some people use it to help treat psychological disorders such as anxiety, depression or PTSD. However, the results of scientific studies regarding its effectiveness in treating certain symptoms are mixed.

Popular Sativa Strains

Sativa strains can be used to affect mood due to its mind-altering effects, whether you are hoping for an energy boost or increased focus. Popular sativa strains include Sour Diesel, Pineapple Express and Strawberry Cough. Flowers from sativa plants tend to retain their bright-green leafy texture into maturity.

Popular Hybrid Strains

Hybrid strains offer the most opportunity for fine-tuning your experience and preferred effects of cannabis products, blending the properties of indica and sativa strains.

A hybrid strain can vary widely in its effects: It can induce a head or body high, be a catalyst for alertness or effective sleep aid, or produce pain-relieving effects. Popular hybrid strains include White Widow, Blue Dream, Wedding Cake and Girl Scout Cookies.

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