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Indica vs. Sativa: Fact and Fiction


What is the Difference Between a Sativa and an Indica?
     - A brusque comparison and a quick guide to crowd favorites.

Mirrors show us what the mirror sees. If you stand in front of one, you’ll see yourself, only reversed on the left-right axis.

When you look at an indica or a sativa, they can be tough to tell the difference between based on appearance alone. A sativa might look exactly like an indica crossed over on the left-right axis, just like looking into a mirror.

Ultimately, in order to tell the difference between an indica and a sativa, we must look at its genotype.

According to an interview from 2016 that was published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, it’s nearly impossible to tell what type of cannabis plant you’re looking at without doing a chemical analysis.

That’s because, according to Dr. Ethan Russo, one of the world’s leading cannabis researchers, “the sativa/indica distinction as commonly applied in the lay literature is total nonsense and an exercise in futility” because “one cannot in any way currently guess the biochemical content of a given Cannabis plant based on its height, branching, or leaf morphology.”

In other words, most of what you hear about the differences between indicas and sativas is lore.

While some generalizations can be made in some cases, the best way to know what chemovar of cannabis you have is to perform a full analysis of its contents.


What is an Indica? What is a Sativa?

Indicas, going against everything Dr. Russo has taught us, are generally thought of us squat plants with broad leaves. It’s often said they’re more likely to have hues of purple and blue in their leaves and flowers.

Sativas, on the other hand, are purported to be taller with slender leaves. These types of varieties are more widely known for citrus-flavored terpene content and heady, energetic highs.

According to Dr. Russo, however, this is all just a semantics game that we like to play in the world of cannabis.

What is an indica? It’s a group of cannabis plants that have been roughly grouped together under the same term. The same goes the sativas. In light of that, here are some of the top cultivars that often recognized as the best of those loosely-termed groups.


Top Five Indicas

  1. Northern Lights

  2. O.G. Kush

  3. Grand Daddy Purp

  4. Blue Cheese

  5. Sensi Star


Top Five Sativas

  1. Jack Herer

  2. Super Lemon Haze

  3. Sour Diesel

  4. Amnesia Haze

  5. Green Crack

Northern Lights - a popular marijuana strain
Durban Poison, a popular cannabis straini

Northern Lights

Durban Poison



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