The difference between Indica and Sativa

Cannabis varieties

Cannabis consists of two species: Indica and Sativa strains. We speak of a Hybrid when an Indica with a Sativa is crossed. Significant differences exist between the Indica, Sativa and hybrid. Not only in effect caused by the THC and CBD content but also in taste, smell and visual aspects. Think of growth structure, flowering time, leaf structure and buds. The real difference between Indica and Sativa can thus be determined by consuming the weed or by looking at the plant. But what are the differences between Indica and Sativa and what do you have to look at to determine the differences? To make things easier we wrote this blog about the difference between Indica and Sativa.

Difference between Indica and Sativa: the origin

Sativa’s grow mainly in warm climates with a long, sunny, warm and fertile growing season. Most Sativa’s therefore originate from areas such as India, Thailand, Colombia and Mexico. On the other hand we have the Indica species. Indica’s mostly come from inhospitable cold, and wet areas such as the Hindu Kush Mountains in Afghanistan, India and Pakistan. Because Indica and Sativa’s have adapted to the living conditions and climates, there are clear differences between these two species. Both with regard to flowering and visual aspects.

How can you visually determine the difference between Indica and Sativa?

The visual differences between an Indica and Sativa species are fairly easy to determine when you know what to look at. Above, the most important points are already mentioned, namely: the growth structure, leaf structure and buds. The different aspects are explained below.

What is the visual difference between Indica and Sativa?

Sativa strains are known for their narrow and tall growth structure with slender leaves. By growing mainly in height, a Sativa is better able to prevent fungi. In ideal circumstances, a Sativa can even become 6 meters tall. However, an Indica grows mainly in width and less in height. As a result, Indica’s are more bushy with much broader leaves compared to the leaves of a Sativa. On average, an Indica reaches a height of 80 cm to 120 cm.

The difference between Indica and Sativa buds

Many species are hybrids (a cross between a Sativa and an Indica). As a result, it’s less clear to determine Sativa or Indica by looking at the bud. However, it isn’t impossible. Especially when you know what to look for.

Indica buds

During flowering, Indica buds develop in groups close to the nodes. This makes a Indica bud more compact and heavier. Many weed enthusiasts also believe that an Indica top looks nicer and healthier. It’s one of the reasons why Indica’s are more popular than Sativa’s.

Sativa buds

When you buy cannabis in a coffee shop or dispensary and it looks like you’ve gotten more than you’ve paid for, then you’re probably dealing with a Sativa. Sativa’s have a more open structure and are less compact. In addition, the buds are longer and a bit fluffy.

Difference in flowering time

Not only Sativa’s have found a way to prevent mold. That also applies to the Indica. The Indica doesn’t do this on basis of the growth structure, but on basis of flowering time. Indica plants can’t withstand humidity and have therefore learned to bloom faster. With an average of just 6 to 8 weeks an Indica thus blossoms shortly. On the other hand, a Sativa often needs 10 to 12 weeks to get ready for harvesting. This is also the reason why most growers choose Indica’s and why pure Sativa’s are difficult to find nowadays.

What is the chemical difference between Indica and Sativa?

When you look at the chemical differences of an Indica and Sativa, there are a number of important differences to be recognized. These chemical differences are determined by the cannabinoid content (CBD and THC), but also by the terpenes and the balance of phytochemical component.

Sativa varieties are traditionally known for their usually high THC and relatively low CBD content while Indica’s have a high CBD- and a relatively low THC content. This makes it logical that the effect between an Indica and Sativa is clearly different.

The difference between an indica and sativa high

The effect is ultimately what it’s all about. Some smokers prefer an active high while others are looking for a weed to relax their body.

Due to the high THC content, Sativa’s are known for their energetic, cerebral and euphoric high with a effect which is mainly focused on the head. However, Indica’s provide a more relaxing high which is particularly felt in the body.

Difference in taste and smell

Real connoisseurs will be able to distinguish the difference between an Indica and Sativa in taste and aroma. Indica’s are generally sweet or have flavors of fruit while the scent is skunky. Think for example of the Northern Lights. Sativa’s, on the other hand, often have an earthy or sharp taste with a spicy scent that smells like flowers. A good example of this is our Power Plant.


The differences between Indica and Sativa’s are quite big. So before you buy cannabis seeds, it’s important to determine which factors you find important in terms of visual aspects, effects and taste. To make it simple, we have summarized the above information in the table below.

Check Indica Sativa
Growth and leaf structure Wide and short Small and tall
Bud structure Compact and heavy  Light and airy
Climate Cold Warm
Flowering time Short Long
Cultivation Indoors Outdoors
THC Relatively low  Relatively high
CBD Relatively high  Relatively low 
High or stoned Stoned High
Taste Sweet Earthy
Aroma Skunky Spicy