What is Sativa
Have you ever been in a cannabis shop and browsed the strains and wonder what the difference is between them? To someone not familiar with pot, it can all look the same. Strains are commonly broken up into two distinct groups: indica and sativa which are two distinct species from the same cannabis family. However, they show different growing characteristics, highs, smells, and medicinal effects. Understanding the variation can make all the difference for the user, depending on what he or she is looking for.
Cannabis sativa is an annual herbaceous flowering plant indigenous to eastern Asia but can now be found all over the world as the plant can be cultivated indoors and in greenhouses as well as parts of South America or other lush, warmer climates. Each part of the cannabis plant is harvested differently, depending on the purpose of its use.
The Sativa species was first classified in 1750s and the word “sativa” means something that is cultivated. Today, “sativa” refers to tall, narrow-leaf varieties of cannabis, thought to induce energizing effects which is different than its neighbour, indica. Cannabis contains over a hundred different types of these cannabinoids, but start by familiarizing yourself with these two first as they are the most important.
The Difference Between Sativa and Indica
On a chemical level, indica and sativa strains are different in their composition of the cannabinoid content, as well as in the balance of other phytochemical compounds, such as terpenes and flavonoids. Sativa strains usually have a higher THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) content and lower CBD (Cannabidiol), but thanks to genetic breeding, both indica and sativa strains can be found with varying THC and CBD levles for a mixed effect based upon what the consumer prefers or needs.
In general, the effect of sativa strains is often described as a strong and uplifting high, while indicas tend to produce a more body-centred, stoned effect. While the levels of THC and CBD play a significant role in shaping the effect, other naturally occurring substances also play their part in producing these distinct characteristics. For example, over 120 different terpenes have been found in cannabis of which the concentration and balance can largely influence the effect produced by a particular strain.
On average, Cannabis indica pants has higher levels of THC compared to CBD, whereas Cannabis sativa have lower levels of THC to CBD. THC is the psychoactive element in marijuana and is thought to be part of the plant’s self defence mechanism against predators and other natural enemies.
However, huge variables exist within either species, most of which is the result of different levels of THC and CBC which can occur naturally or can be bread into the plant. If you’re an experienced marijuana consumer, you may notice a tendency for some sativas to be uplifting and other indicas to be relaxing, especially when you expect the result to be the opposite. Just remember that there’s no hard-and-fast rule and no determinant chemical data that supports a perfect predictive pattern. The great thing that each strain is different and will have a different effect – some large, some small – depending on how it’s grown and cultivated.
With the popularity of marijuana increasing, the actual physical and chemical distinctions between cannabis species and subspecies are becoming wider spread as the general population is become better informed about the benefits of each strain. It seems the contemporary use of indica and sativa descriptions are here to stay, but as an informed consumer, it’s important to understand the practical value of each strain.
THC-dominant strains are primarily chosen by consumers seeking a potent high, however THC also has some medical benefits that aren’t well known. THC-dominant strains are also selected by people treating pain, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and more. If you tend to feel anxious with THC-dominant strains or dislike other side effects associated with THC, try a strain with higher levels of CBD. CBD-dominant strains contain only small amounts of THC and as a result you get a more dulled or muted high and are widely used by those sensitive to THC or patients needing clear-headed symptom relief
How Do They Look Different?
There are several key differences between how Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa plants look. These include height and stature, internodal length, leaf size and structure, buds size and density, flowering time, odour, smoke and effects. Indica plants tend to grow shorter and bushier than the sativa plants. Indica strains tend to have wide, short leaves with short wide blades, whereas sativa strains have the more familiar-looking long leaves with thin long blades that you see on most marjunana packaging and signs. The buds of indica strains are wider, dense rand bulky, while sativa strains are likely to be long, sausage-shaped flowers.
Marijuana Has Sexes
Cannabis plants show their sex by what grows in between their nodes which are between the leaves and branches. What starts as a pollen sac on a male plant or a stigma on a female will become what either spreads or catches pollen, respectively. Luckily, we can see these differences weeks before they start serving their purposes in the reproduction cycle. These are known as “pre-flowers.”
Pre-flowers begin to develop around a month into growth, but they can take a little longer depending on growing conditions. Usually about the sixth week, you should be able to find the pre-flowers and confidently determine the sex of your plant.
If the plant is a short flowering plant it is probably a female, while male plants usually taller and less leafy. The flowers of the female plant are arranged in racemes and can produce hundreds of seeds. Male plants shed their pollen and die several weeks prior to seed ripening on the female plants. Under typical conditions with a light period of 12 to 14 hours both sexes are produced in equal numbers because of heritable X and Y chromosomes. Although genetic factors dispose a plant to become male or female, environmental factors including the diurnal light cycle can also alter how the plant grows and ultimately which sex will thrive.
A Cannabis sativa plant in the growth phase of its life requires more than 12–13 hours of light per day to stay healthy. The flowering cycle can last anywhere between nine and fifteen weeks, depending on the strain and environmental conditions.
In soil, the optimum acid level for the plant is between 6.3 to 6.8 pH. In greenhouse conditions, the nutrient solution is best at 5.2 to 5.8, making Cannabis well-suited to indoor conditions because this pH range is hostile to most bacteria and fungi.