Indica, Sativa & Ruderalis Explained

The development of the cannabis plant goes back many thousands of years, influenced by both environmental factors and human interaction. At present, there is no consensus as to the official taxonomy, or classification, of the cannabis plant. Is it a single species with many variants? Or perhaps several distinct, yet closely related species and subspecies? Recently, with the advent of legal medical and recreational marijuana in many states, as well as relaxed regulations in many countries around the world, scientists and botanists have begun to legally study cannabis genetics and are working toward a realistic taxonomy. In the meantime, contemporary medical marijuana culture has generally accepted that the cannabis plant comes in three varieties, each with their own characteristics: Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica and Cannabis Ruderalis.

Cannabis Sativa plants display effects that have traditionally been referred to as “cerebral,” and “energetic.” Indeed, Sativa strains provide uplifting stimulation and are known to relieve headaches and eye pressure, and to reduce nausea. These strains are often used as daytime medication, as they don’t have the sedative effects sometimes associated with their Indica cousins. Cannabis Sativa plants typically grow tall and somewhat lanky with long, slender leaves. Though they may not yield as heavily as the Indica varieties, Sativa strains display pleasing flavor and potency. Popular Cannabis Sativa strains include Jack Herrer, Lemon Haze and Sour Diesel.

Cannabis Indica is a potent variety of marijuana with a range of health benefits. With a typically high THC content, Indica varieties are known to provide excellent pain relief, increase appetite, and to function as an effective sleep aid. The phrases “couch lock” and “body high” are often used to refer to Indica effects. The Cannabis Indica plant grows bushy with short, wide leaves, and reaches maturity relatively quickly. Popular Cannabis Indica strains include Bubba Kush, Grand Daddy Purple and Afghani Kush.

It should be noted that Hybrid Cannabis strains display varying levels of both the Indica and Sativa characteristics. Hybrid strains such as OG Kush and Girl Scout Cookies have become quite popular for their potency and balanced medicinal effects.

Cannabis Ruderalis is a small, bushy plant with little THC content. Due to its short, self-induced flowering period and penchant for surviving in harsh conditions, Cannabis Ruderalis is sometimes cross-bred with Sativa or Indica varieties.