Are Indicas and Sativas the Same Species?

What separates the Indica species from the Sativas species has persisted as one of the biggest myths in the entire cannabis industry. Sativas supposedly look, grow, and make consumers feel a certain way. In contrast, popular opinion sees Indicas as the exact opposite. But what makes the distinction? Where does ruderalis fit into all this? Or hemp? While all of these plants fit under the cannabis umbrella, we must separate them into unique categories for a reason, right?

In simple terms, every cannabis plant classifies under Cannabis Sativa. This classification includes all strains from Trainwreck to an Afghani landrace, and even hemp grown on a massive farm. A good deal of botanists agree on this single species approach.

Why single species?

For an organism like cannabis, the designation between species comes down to how it reproduces. Does it mate and produce offspring that can go on and produce more offspring? Thus cats and dogs are different species, as they cannot reproduce together. On the other hand, horses and donkeys can also produce offspring, known as mules. Mules, however, are sterile and thereby not capable of reproducing. Which means that although horses and donkeys can create a hybrid, they remain different species. We already know that hybrids exist in the cannabis world, but the fact they can produce more offspring means they belong in the same species.


Moreover, cannabis plants do have distinguishable subspecies. Cannabis plants contain a plentiful diversity.

Sativas generally grow quite tall and almost tree-like, with thin leaflets. They also grow in tropical and subtropical climates among other characteristics. Unlike Indica plants, which stay shorter and bushier. Indicas are characterized by their wide leaflets and habitats of cooler, mountainous environments. And still Ruderalis grows in the harsh climate of Siberia. Ruderalis has the claim to fame of an independent flowering cycle in the face of the change in photoperiod of its environment.

So, the distinctions in place have good reason. Each plant passes on special characteristics and desirable traits to their offspring. Cannabis breeders take advantage of these hereditary advantages all the time.

But the designation stops here, with the possible exception of hemp. The physiological processes that produce hemp fiber interfere with THC production in a way we don’t completely understand at this time.


In summation, a sativa can possess a cannabinoid and terpene profile indistinguishable in taste, smell, and appearance to indica. Likewise, an indica can provide the psychedelic, cerebral experience for which sativas typically receive the credit. The interplay between a plant’s genetic potential and its expression in its environment are what create the endless combinations of cultivars and varieties. These cultivars and varieties each come with their own unique physical appearance and chemical makeup, which produces a one-of-a-kind plant. It is clear that we have a privilege of accessing these natural wonders for our own individual needs.