Many users, new or experienced are not always familiar with the different types of cannabis species or cannabis strains for that matter. In fact, most people who do have some knowledge only know about the two most common cannabis strains, sativa and indica. Cannabis belongs to the Cannabaceae family and the truth is there are three specific species that are also often referred to as ‘Cannabis strains’.
DID YOU KNOW? Hops (humulus) and hackberries are also apart of the Cannabaceae family.
History of Classification
Originally we only know about Cannabis sativa which actually means the cultivation of seeds. Sativa remained the only cannabis species known to man until French biologist, Jean Baptiste Lamarck discovered Cannabis indica in 1785. Upon discovery, indica was used as medicine throughout the Western world in the 1800s to the 1910’s – 1920s.
Then in 1924 Russian botanist discovered Cannabis ruderalis growing wildly.
About 95% of cannabis strains that exist today are hybrids, with only a handful actually being pure Sativa, Indica, & Ruderalis.
However, new studies have proven this to be inaccurate.
See, it is common for THC or CBD to vary based on the plant itself and not so much the category of sativa or indica.
What new studies have uncovered is high volumes of Myrcene in most indica plants which is what creates the ‘stone’ high that people mistook these ‘supposed differences’ for.
Myrcene is also found in lemongrass, which is also known to cause a ‘stone’ high, meaning an intense body buzz or sedative.
Sativa’s are usually a lighter green plant with loose, long branches and can grow up to 20ft high. The sativa plant tends to produce a smaller yield than the indicas and flower in about 10 to 16 weeks.
Sativa is local to places like Columbia, Thailand, Mexico, and Africa. In areas with a latitude of 0 to 30 degrees.
Sativa’s flavor ranges from amnesia (ammonia smelling) to fruity.
Haze strains are often made of sativa or hybrid strain with a larger ratio of sativa.
Sativa is often considered best for day use as users attribute sativa to an uplifting and cerebral increasing high, meaning more mentally focused.
Indicas are generally darker green plants with dense, wide branches and are smaller in height, about 3 ft.
Indicas tend to produce a larger yield and flower in 8 to 12 weeks.
Indica plants are local to Nepal, Morocco, Turkey, and Afghanistan. In areas with a latitude range of 30 to 50 degrees.
Indica’s flavors range from fruity to skunky and are often called kush. Hybrid strains called kush usually have a higher ratio of indica.
Indicas have the reputation of being best for nighttime use as users report relaxation throughout the whole body and mind.
For further information on sativa and indica, watch cannabis doctor, Dr John Teh talking about them in great details in the below video:
The rarest species of cannabis is the ruderalis, native to central/eastern Europe and Asia.
The ruderalis is very unique given the fact it has adapted to not only live in these colder climates but is also auto-flowering, unlike its relatives sativa and indica which are activated by a photoperiod.
The ruderalis are smaller, stumpy plants growing anywhere from 1 to 2.5 feet tall and have incredibly thick sturdy stems.
Ruderalis begin auto-flowering just after 21 to 30 days of vegetation and are ready to harvest in between 70 to 110 days from seeds.
This uniquely amazing trait is the major reason why hybrid strains are using ruderalis more than ever before.
What are Hybrid Cannabis Strains?
Hybrid strains are mixture of the different cannabis species and fall into 3 categories.
- Sativa dominant hybrids – Higher ratio of sativa such as 70/30
- Balanced Hybrid – Equal ratio of both sativa and indica, 50/50
- Indica dominant hybrids – Higher ratio of indica such as 60/40
Hybrids show traits directly related to the genetics in its lineage, meaning they will produce effects based off those they’re related to.
For example, hybrid strain Blue Dream took the body buzz created by a Blueberry Indica and crossed it with a Sativa Haze making a strain known for its powerful body buzz with slowing the mind.
Using the resources at your local dispensary is a great way to familiarize yourself with not only strains but the categories of cannabis species up-close and personally.
Understanding the genetic makeup of your cannabis is the best way to uncover the treatment plan that works best for you.