Understanding Marijuana Strains: Sativa vs. Indica vs. Ruderalis

By Maximum Yield
Published: October 9, 2019 | Last updated: April 6, 2021 10:35:20
Presented by Crop King Seeds
Key Takeaways

Out of the hundreds of different marijuana strains out there, each one has its own "personality". Learn how differentiate between all of them and determine which strain is best for you.

Each cannabis strain out there features its own growing traits, aromas, tastes, effects, and yields. As luck would have it, navigating through all of these isn't as complicated as it sounds because each marijuana strain has something in common! They each belong to one of the three major cannabis families: Sativa, Indica, and Ruderalis.

While all cannabis varieties belong to the Cannabaceae family of flowering plants, the terms Sativa, Indica, and Ruderalis are used to categorize and describe the unique set of genetics. These determine the basic growing patterns and most common effects attributed to the numerous ganja varieties.

By understanding the major differences between these genetic families, cannabis enthusiasts eager to grow the ancient herb can make a well-informed decision when it comes to picking the right seeds to cultivate with success. Find out which strain best suits your demands, needs, preferences, and level of experience.


Introducing the Terms Sativa, Indica, and Ruderalis

The words "sativa" and "indica" were first introduced in the 18th century by Carl Linneaus. Referring to hemp plants found in Western Eurasia and Europe, he introduced the term "cannabis sativa". In the beginning, these plants were in major part grown with the goal of harvesting the fibers and the seeds.

Later on, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck coined the term, "cannabis indica" to describe the psychoactive varieties of marijuana. Native to India, these plants were cultivated for seeds, fiber, and the production of hashish.

It's interesting to note that cannabis indica landrace strains tend to have lower levels of THC than cannabis sativa landrace strains.

The Russian botanist D. E. Janischewsky was the first person to classify the one-of-a-kind subspecies of cannabis, “cannabis ruderalis”, back in 1924. Janischewsky noted that ruderalis marijuana varieties display visible differences in the shape and size of their seeds and leeves compared to any previously classified members of the Cannabaceae family.


Cannabis Sativa Strains

Sativa cannabis varieties are physically the largest as they are known to grow much taller than indica and ruderalis cannabis plants.

Sativas originated in the equatorial countries where the hours of daylight are rather steady all-year-round. In other parts of the world, the conditions aren't as favorable because the hours of daylight tend to fluctuate depending on the seasons.

As a result, cannabis sativa plants have evolved to take maximum advantage of the conditions in their natural environment, continuing to grow as they flower.

Sativa varieties tend to look more loose and airy than indica and ruderalis plants. Their leaves are spindly, long, and finger-like.

Proportionate to their large size, sativas offer very high yields and require plenty of warmth and sunny hours to reach their fullest potential. They also spend a longer time in the flowering stage as opposed to other varieties of marijuana.

Sativas typically contain high levels of THC and only low levels ofCBD. The most common effects attributed to Sativa strains include:

  • Boost in energy
  • An uplifted feeling
  • Improved focus and concentration
  • Increased alertness
  • Cerebral head buzz
  • Rise in creativity and motivation
  • Nausea reduction
  • Anti-depression
  • Appetite stimulation

Cannabis Indica Strains

Cannabis indica strains are known for their short, stocky, and compact structure.

Originating in sub-tropical countries such as Afghanistan and Pakistan, indicas are naturally found rather far away from their sativa relatives. They are usually found between 30-50 degrees south and north of the Equator.

With this in mind, the hours of daylight in their home countries do fluctuate significantly. Because of this, indica cannabis varieties put all of their energy into flowering once they have reached a particular height.

To absorb as much sunlight as possible, the indica leaves are fan-like in shape and are much wider than other cannabis plants,

In a hurry to maximize the scarce daylight hours in their natural environment, indicas grow much faster than sativas. For marijuana enthusiasts dealing with limited space, indica strains are a much better choice than sativas. This is also because the buds can be harvested faster.

Although Indica marijuana plants are known to contain high levels of THC, they also have higher levels of CBD than sativas. The major health benefits associated with consuming indica cannabis strains are:

  • A potent & full-body buzz
  • Muscle relaxation
  • Pain relief
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-insomnia
  • Sedative
  • Appetite boosting
  • Anti-stress
  • Anti-anxiety

Cannabis Ruderalis Strains

The very term ruderalis is derived from the Latin word "rūdera", which translates into the lump, rubble, or a rough piece of bronze.

In the wild, Cannabis ruderalis plants grow in the colder regions of the world. You can typically find these more than 50 degrees north of the Equator, such as in Russia or China.

The main trait that sets apart the ruderalis family is that these cannabis varieties have adopted an autoflowering mode to survive the harsh conditions in their natural habitat. As a result, ruderalis cannabis strains switch from vegetation to flowering without any regards for the daylight hours.

Unlike indica and sativa cannabis strains, ruderalis strains are not photoperiodic. With this in mind, cultivators don't need to provide scheduled hours of light or darkness to trigger flowering.

Ruderalis cannabis plants possess the shortest and most compact structure. They are fast-growing and very small in size. Their leaves are small and develop quickly with only a few side branches.

Ruderalis strains only have very low levels of both CBD and THC. Nowadays, the sturdy genetics of cannabis ruderalis is majorly used in modern-day breeding practices to retain the autoflowering features in combination with the high yield and potent effects of sativas and indicas.

Equipped with the genetics of cannabis ruderalis, contemporary hybrid strains are capable of providing excellent yields. They are also easier to cultivate and finish flowering faster.

As another bonus, ruderalis varieties make it possible for ganja growers living in colder regions to cultivate pot with more success. No matter which strain you choose, be sure to germinate your marijuana seeds the proper way.


An Advantage to Sativa, Indica & Ruderalis

Even though sativa, indica, and ruderalis cannabis plants possess different growing traits, as well as different levels of active cannabinoids, they are all interbreedable.

Thanks to possessing mixed traits, contemporary marijuana strains allow medical and recreational pot consumers alike to pick the best strain to grow and/or consume based on their unique, personal needs and preferences. If you're looking to grow your own, always make sure to consider the strain and grow info of your seeds to determine the best type for you.


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Written by Maximum Yield | Publisher

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Maximum Yield Inc. is the print and online publisher behind Maximum Yield and Maximum Yield Cannabis magazines. With topics such as cannabis cultivation and consumption, hydroponics and controlled environment cultivation, as well as greenhouse, container, urban, and vertical growing, Maximum Yield is focused on teaching you how to reach your maximum yield by providing informative articles on the latest technologies and plenty of tips and tricks from grow experts.

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