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.

Cannabis Terms

It is important to get caught up on the terms of any new industry. Cannabis, in a slightly unusual fashion for a new industry, already has a long history and active sub-culture. To that end, we drafted this quick and easy guide of beginner’s cannabis terms. The following list has some general use terms that will come up in your cannabis research.

Cannabis Terms Glossary:


The smell of the bud. The plant’s terpenes are responsible for each strain’s unique smell. 


The consumable parts of the cannabis flower after it has been dried and cured. In general, the bud is what people think of when it comes to cannabis.


The employee selling cannabis at a dispensary. 


A class of chemical compounds, cannabinoids are agonists that bind to special receptors on your cells, called cannabinoid receptors. There are over 80 chemical compounds in the plant. Of course, CBD and THC are the most common. Read more here.


The plant itself. In some places, it is recognized as Hemp. Other places have the legal name as Marijuana. In this case, the three recognized subspecies include Indica, Ruderalis, and Sativa.


One of over eighty cannabinoids in the plant. CBD is a non-psychotropic chemical compound responsible for imparting feelings of calmness and relaxation. In addition, it may also offer health benefits.


A variety of products including honey, oil, and wax that contain cannabinoids extract. For the most part, they are very potent.


A place of business that sells cannabis in a legal and safe manner. In like manner, we have some of these here and there.


Any food or drink containing cannabis.


The part of the cannabis plant harvested for its therapeutic effects.


A particular type of extract made from resin. Additionally, Hash oil can then be made from the extract.


See Cannabis.


The result after two of the cannabis species cross-breed. An off-shoot species. Hybrid plants span a wide range of appearances and different therapeutic effects. As a result, dispensaries can offer widely different strains.


The system allowing plant growth in a nutrient-rich solution instead of soil. Uniquely, The plants growing in this environment have greater access to water and nutrients. 


A subspecies of cannabis reaching heights of 3-6 feet with broad, bushy leaves. Read more about Indica here.


A powder originating from the trichomes heads. Trichome heads contain the highest percentage of cannabinoids. In fact, most consumer-grade grinders contain a mesh screen to filter for the Kief. 


A derogatory term originally describing the recreational use of Cannabis for smoking. After the 1910 Mexican Revolution, the influx of Mexican immigrants popularized recreational smoking in the U.S. In fact, Marijuana was a Cannabis term coined by an anti-cannabis group. Today, Marijuana is the legal word for Cannabis in some places.


The term “phenotype” refers to observable physical characteristics of our cannabis plants. The shape, length, and coloring of a plant are all classified under its phenotype. Correspondingly, the physical appearance of plants comes from their parent plants like how human children resemble their parents. In addition to genetics, the environment also influences phenotype in a significant way. All that to say, every cannabis plant is different.


The pistil is the female reproductive part of a cannabis flower. The vibrant, hairlike strands of the pistil are called stigmas. Most importantly, The stigmas are receptive to pollination. 


A wild cannabis subspecies native to Central and Eastern Europe. Of the three main Cannabis subspecies, Ruderalis are shorter and stalkier. In contrast, Ruderalis typically contains a lower amount of THC. Read more about Ruderalis here.


A tall subspecies of cannabis, reaching heights of 15-25 feet. The leaves are thin and elegant. Read more about Sative here.


A type of extracted cannabis concentrate known for its glass-like properties. It is brittle, sometimes transparent, and can shatter like glass. Hence the name.


Terms meaning cannabis type defined by their phenotypes. Heirlooms strains are cannabis plants that have a long lineage without any crossbreeding. On the other hand, Hybrid strains are the child of any two classic strains mixing. Both types vary broadly because terpenes in the flowers have infinite variety. 


Hairs on the pistils, female part of the plant. They collect pollen from male plants.


One of over 80 cannabinoids found in the plant. This psychotropic chemical compound responsible for giving that “high” feeling. Generally, THC is illegal on a federal level, but legal in some states. Check out which states allow THC products over here.


A concentrate of plant oil typically extracted through an ethanol solution. Although, it has grown common among CBD manufacturers to then remove the ethanol from the concentrate.


A cream, ointment, or gel designed to reduce inflammation once applied to the skin.


Fine growths of hair found on plants, algae, and lichens. These appendages resemble frost, giving the cannabis leaf a dewey appearance. They are an important part of a plant’s appearance. Not to mention, this part contains the majority of the THC.


A low-temperature, smokeless gas heavy with humidity. Together with edibles, vaping is one of the most popular ways of consuming CBD. 


A type of extracted cannabis. It is formed by applying heat and pressure to the bud of a cannabis flower.