Sativa, Indica and Ruderalis Common Traits 11/25/2016

In general, the following are most prominent traits commonly referred to when describing Sativa, Indica and Ruderalis phenotypes. There is discussion about mixing up the names such as Indica is really Afganica because it orginates in the Afganistan area and Sativa is really suppose to be Indica because it originates in India.

To avoid confusion, the following are the most common ways to identify the 3 main types of cannabis.


Sativa’s are tall, and thin (x-mas tree shaped) with much narrower leaves of a lighter green color than Cannabis Indica. Sativa varities tend to grow very quickly, and can reach heights of 20 feet during a single season. Sativa’s usually have long internodes and branches. Once flowering has begun, the plant can take anywhere from 10 to 16 weeks to fully mature. Depending on the strain, as well as the drying and curing time of the flowers, many describe its flavor as ranging from earthy to sweet and fruity. Cannabis Sativa was originally indigenous to Central and Southern Asia.  Today some of its best-known varieties originate in Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, India, South East Asia, and Africa. Cannabis Sativa strains are often utilized for those times when a user wants to enhance an experience whether at a social event, listening to music, while out in nature.  Sativa strains are most often associated with feeling really great, energetic, and social. With a whole new heightened sense of awareness, there is a feeling of being one with life. Often users feel sativa marijuana increases focus and creativity.


Indica varieties are shorter and have dense growth with broad leaves that often grow to a more dark green than Sativas. Originating in southwestern Asian countries of Afghanistan, and Tibet, sativa’s are also sometimes associated with the hash producing country of Morocco. Cannabis Indica has a much shorter growing period than sativa varieties.  Indica’s produce more chlorophyll than sativa strains, they also grow and mature much faster. After flowering begins, Indica’s usually mature in 6 to 8 weeks to buds that become thick and dense with pungent sweet and fruity aromas. Many medical cannabis patients prefer Indica for night-time use because of its heavier high that provides relaxation while helping with pain and sleep.

Ever since 1753 when the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus, first christened the hemp plant Cannabis sativa, there has been vigorous debate among botanists as to whether there is one species of cannabis with different varieties, or in fact several distinct species. Lamarck contended that the European hemp plant and the Indian hemp plant each warranted its own name thus Cannabis sativa for the European hemp plant and Cannabis Indica for the Indian cannabis plant. In 1924, the Russian botanist Janischewsky championed the polytypic argument and claimed that in addition to Cannabis sativa and Cannabis Indica there was a third distinct sub species which he named Cannabis Ruderalis.


Ruderalis differs from the other two sub-species in several important ways. Cannabis ruderalis is the shortest in height of the three varieties.  Originating in the central Soviet Union, it has adapted to the extreme northern climates with its short growing seasons by evolving to an automatic growing cycle that is not dependent upon a long sunlight cycle which governs indica, and sativa sub-species. but based on the age of the plant.  With only a short summer to use, Ruderalis plants germinate quickly and immediately begin a fast growth cycle that allows them to grow, flower and seed in just 10 weeks. This hardier species, reputed to be more resistant to insect and disease pressures.  Today ruderalis plants can be found in large populations in the wild all over central and Eastern Europe. Cannabis ruderalis does resembles cannabis sativa in leaf appearance, belonging to the narrow leaf type of cannabis plants. However, tends to have low levels of THC and higher levels of CBD. All three sub-species can be crossbred.

(If you are growing medical cannabis, check with your local dispensary regarding their cannabis’ strains, pure breeds or hybrids, and their THC and CBD levels. Hybrids are developed by growers to highlight a specific combination of genetic properties of that specific strain such as lower THC with higher CBN/CBD, or higher THC with lower CBN/CBD, as well as certain traits such as greater resin production, tighter node spacing, size of the plant and the time for the plants to mature. Hybrid varieties are created with varying genetic ratios of the three main strains of cannabis, indica, sativa, and ruderalis. Advanced breeding techniques can stabilize certain characteristics, so that a grower will have a more consistent results.)

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