The Ultimate Guide to Cannabis Strains: Sativa VS Indica


When considering what sort of cannabis might be ideal for you and your specific set of conditions, the information you consult might sometimes feel complicated and overwhelming, as you are hit with a barrage of technical terminology that you may not be familiar with. Luckily, here at Chalice, we will help guide you through the process and show you that finding the perfect type of cannabis for you is really not as difficult as you might think. So sit back, relax, and join us on this brief biological exploration of the magical cannabis plant.

What Is A Cannabis Strain?

When someone asks you what strains of cannabis you enjoy, what they are asking about is what type or a variety of the plant is your favorite. The word “strain" is a biological term that is used when discussing different genetic variants within a species. For example, if someone asks you what your favorite type of apple is, you might tell them you love Granny Smith apples (those are the green ones btw). Well, although you may not realize it, Granny Smith is in fact the name of the strain of apple which is contained within the larger “Malus Domestica” apple species. So just as there any many strains of apples (Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Pink Lady, etc.), so too are there many strains of cannabis that fall under the umbrella of the species Cannabis Indica (e.g. OG Kush, Grandaddy Purple, etc.) and the species Cannabis Sativa ( e.g. Sour Diesel, Jack Herer, etc.).

Where Do Strains Come From?

Many strains originate from cannabis being cultivated in various climates and then mutating into new and unique strains that fit in better with their specific growing conditions. As a result, many strains give an indication of where they are from through their name. Examples of this are Acapulco Gold, which is originally from Acapulco, Mexico, and Durban Poison, which comes from Durban, South Africa. Nowadays, most strains come from growers who cross-breed strains of cannabis with one another in order to create new strains.

What Differentiates Cannabis Strains?

Cannabis strains are often named with references to their parent strains or with other descriptors that may refer to their plant’s color, taste, or odor. These qualities, as well as a strain’s potency and intoxicating effects, are what distinguish one strain from another. As stated above, the climate is also an important factor in the development of cannabis strains, as some
strains are more resilient to heat or cold than others and thus are more easily grown in certain parts of the world.

Sativa Strains

Sativa strains of cannabis are typically for the equatorial regions of the planet, and are described as having a strong psychoactive effect that results in a “head high”.

Plant Anatomy: Cannabis Sativa

Cannabis plants of the sativa species can typically be easily identified due to their height, as they can grow to be nearly 15 feet tall. This extreme height can give the plants a sort of gangly appearance, as the branches can have a fair amount of space between them. Sativa leaves are typically long and narrow-bladed and their buds are similarly long and narrow. They also often
take a month or two longer to mature than Indica plants.

What Are Sativa Strains Good For?

Sativa strains are often considered “daytime strains”, as they produce an energetic effect that can stimulate the user’s imagination and creativity while increasing productivity. Sativas also create a strong feeling of euphoria that can aid in reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. As discussed above, sativas are frequently described as producing a “head high”, as they can
stimulate a flurry of creative ideas and sharpen focus.

Popular Sativa Strains:

One of the most classic examples of Cannabis Sativa is the strain called “Jack Herer”, or simply “Jack”, which combines a delicious earthy flavor with a potent euphoric quality and strong energizing effect.

Sour Diesel, also known as “Sour D”, or simply “Diesel” is another classic sativa strain, most commonly associated with New York City, where it rose to prominence in the 1990’s. Sour Diesel is named after its pungent smell that is at times reminiscent of gasoline and is famed for its energizing effect that can help combat stress and anxiety.

Super Lemon Haze is another sativa of note that is named after its citrusy smell and slightly zesty and tart flavor that can stimulate the mind and reduce fatigue.

Other Popular Sativa Strains: Green Crack
Super Silver Haze
Durban Posion
Strawberry Cough

Indica Strains

You may have heard the common saying that indicas leave you “in da couch”, but this is something of an oversimplification, as indicas can have a wide range of effects that produce that
famous “body high”. Indica strains tend to trace their origins to Central Asia.

Plant Anatomy: Cannabis Indica

Indica plants tend to be shorter and denser than their sativa counterparts, with tighter more bushy branches and short, wide leaves. The buds of the indica plant tend to be wide and dense and clump together into enormous flowers, and take a shorter amount of time to mature when
compared with sativa plants.

What Are Indica Strains Good For?

Indica strains are often described as producing a calming, relaxing effect that along with producing euphoria, can also help with pain relief, and help the user combat insomnia, making them more “nighttime” strains.Indica strains are often described as producing a calming, relaxing effect that along with producing euphoria, can also help with pain relief, and help the user combat insomnia, making them more “nighttime” strains.

Popular Indica Strains:

Synonymous with the West Coast due to its being referenced in many rap songs, Bubba Kush is a classic indica strain that rose to prominence in the 90’s. “Bubba” is often associated with a piney aroma and calming effects that can ease stress and stimulate one’s appetite.

Northern Lights is a smooth old stalwart indica that has a slightly sweet flavor and is known to combat insomnia, provide pain relief, and reduce anxiety.

Grandaddy Purple, also known as “GDP”, “Purps”, or “Grandaddy Purps”, is a indica renowned for its striking purple color and grape-like flavor. Its appearance makes it an especially popular choice when combined with its euphoric qualities that produce a dreamy and relaxing experience.

Other popular Indica strains:
Blue Cheese Grape Ape Blueberry

But... What Are Hybrid Strains?

Hybrid Strains are what result when Indica and Sativa plants are cross-bred to create a new strain that exhibits properties of both species. In reality, nearly every strain we’ve mentioned so far is a hybrid of some sort, as pure sativas and indicas are extremely rare after thousands of years of cannabis cultivation. These strains have instead been categorized as indica or sativa because one species is particularly dominant in that strain.

Some hybrids produce the calming effects of indicas, while some are creative and energetic like sativas. Some are both and even more! It all depends what strain you get, so feel free to experiment with hybrids as well as indicas and sativas to find out what you like the best.