What's The Difference Between Indica And Sativa?

When you enter a licensed dispensary for the first time and begin to browse all the dry herb they have to offer, you might notice them distinguishing between “Indica”, “Sativa”, and “Hybrid”. What do these terms even mean though? And do these terms still hold meaning? Or are all flower strains considered hybrid these days?

What Are the Different Types of Dry Herb?

Although all dry herbs might appear to be the same at first glance, connoisseurs will know that the strain of the plant and the way it was grown really matter. That is how these terms came about, to describe the different types of dry herb. It is generally thought that indica dry herb will provide heavier, more sedative effects, while sativa offers a brighter, more energetic effect.

However, this generalization of effects is beginning to be brought into question. Nowadays, the industry uses the terms indica and sativa to define the way the plant looks and not the effects of the dry herb produced. Each plant classification offers a certain set of characteristics, which we’ll dive into below.

Indica Plants

A plant that is classified as being indica typically grows shorter and wider than average. They have thick stems to support the dense bud produced, as well as the broad fan leaves. Indica dry herb can have a deeper, darker color to it with hints of purple. These plants also have relatively short flowering cycles, which make them easier to harvest on a deadline.

Previously, there were a set of effects that smokers associated with indica dry herb. It was thought that smoking indica dry herb would provide more of a body high than a head high. However, there is new evidence pointing to the assumed effects of indica plants possibly coming from CBD and a combination of terpenes, instead of the shape of the plant while growing.

Sativa Plants

A plant can alternatively be classified as being sativa and tends to grow taller than indica plants. The dry herb that is produced during flowering also tends to be a bit fluffier than indica dry herb. Sativa plants can have a lighter color to the fan leaves, and a narrow shape. Sativa plants also have a longer flowering cycle than indica plants, but they thrive in warm and sunny environments.

Dry herb that is classified as being pure sativa was previously thought to be associated with more cerebral effects, or a head high. Smoking sativa dry herb was said to be a more uplifting or energetic experience. Again, however, there is new evidence pointing to terpene profiles being the source of those effects over the tall shape of the plant.

Hybrid Plants

With more and more strains and plants being mixed and crossed, there are fewer “OG” strains out there. When a standard strain of dry herb is mixed with another, it creates what is known as a hybrid plant. These plants are thought to generally provide a mix of effects associated with both indica and sativa strains of dry herb. Some find this to be a more balanced high, but if you are searching for specific affects you will want to do a bit of research into the strain of dry herb you are smoking.

Hemp Plants

A plant the produces dry herb can also be classified as hemp instead of being sativa, indica, or hybrid. Hemp plants have their own special classification, in part because of the way the 2018 Farm Bill in the United States. This bill classified hemp plants as containing less than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol, and mainly produce CBD instead. Hemp plants tend to be tall and have strong, fibrous stems that can also be processed into a variety of textiles.

Terpenes And Cannabinoids Are What Really Matter

The terms indica and sativa only describe the physical characteristics of a plant that produces dry herb. However, what dry herb looks like when it is being smoked doesn’t really matter. What matters more is the terpene profile and cannabinoid percentage of the dry herb, since these provide the affects you are looking for. The cannabinoid percentage will tell you if the dry herb will be more of a body or head high, and how intense the effects might be. The terpene profile of dry herb is what gives it its flavor and distinct scent.

You cannot talk much about these characteristics though by just looking at a plant. If possible, you should ask an informed Budtender for more details about what their experience was when smoking a certain strain of dry herb. Or you can record the affects you experience and do some research into the farm that grew the plants. There is still much to be learned about this magical plant, but we are beginning to piece together the information with more research every day.


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