What is Cannabis Indica: Characteristics, Top Strains, & More

May 17, 2023

If you plan on going to shop for marijuana, you’re going to discover quickly that it’s classified in three different ways—indica, sativa, and hybrids. Here, we’re going to break down what we know about indica marijuana for our cannabis glossary, sharing everything from what it is to the ways it’s different from the other classifications. And of course, we’ll share just where you can find your next favorite indica strain.

What is Cannabis Indica?

Cannabis indica is a term given to certain strains of marijuana that grow in short, stocky bushes with broad leaves. Indica tends to also have a shorter growing cycle, and they thrive in northern and higher elevation climates because they flower faster than your typical sativa. 

If you’re new to cannabis, you might also hear that indicas produce a more sedating psychoactive effect—earning it the nickname of “in da couch” because of its tendency to make you just want to relax in your favorite chair. The problem with this is that there’s really no scientific evidence at this point that indica has these qualities in it. In fact, many researchers think there’s actually only one type of cannabis species, Cannabis sativa, and that indica is simply a subspecies of that.

So you might be wondering—why do you feel specific ways with certain strains? Well, researchers often point to the cannabinoid and terpene profiles in cannabis as the reason we feel specific effects within the body. 

How is Cannabis Indica Different From Hybrid or Sativa?

There are several ways that cannabis indica is different from sativa but less so with hybrids. This is because hybrids typically have a fair amount of indica marijuana in them. When it comes to indica vs sativa, here are the four most obvious differences:

  • Geography: Indicas thrive in cooler climates, while sativas tend to prefer warm, sunny locations. 

  • Physical appearance: Marijuana indica plants are short and bushy, and sativas are tall, lanky plants. 

  • Primary cannabinoid ratios: Indica is known for having some CBD content and varying levels of THC. Sativas often have a lot less CBD and on average, higher levels of THC.

  • Growing seasons: Indica favors a shorter growing season because of its preference for cooler climates. Sativas take longer to flower.

Comparing indica and sativas to hybrids, their biggest difference is that hybrids have to be grown on a marijuana farm or inside a greenhouse. Indicas and sativas can grow naturally in their preferred terrain. 

What are Indica Cannabis Plant Characteristics?

When it comes to landrace strains of indica and sativa, there are clear physical differences between the two. Indica grows in a shorter, thicker shrub-like form. The leaves are also wider than their sativa counterparts too. 

If you dive beneath the plant’s surface, into the cannabinoid profiles of indica, the two primary cannabinoid ratios do tend to differ from sativa. In indica, you’ll find a bit more CBD along with inconsistent levels of THC. Sativas have high levels of THC and very little CBD.

What are Popular Indica Strains?

There are a lot of great indica strains on the market whether you plan to get loose cannabis flower or shop for another product and that’s before you even consider some of the indica-dominant hybrids on the market. Still, if we had to pick three favorites, we’d start with these:

Hindu Kush: We can’t talk about indicas without talking about one of our favorite landrace strains: Hindu Kush. This strain grows in the high elevations of Pakistan and Afghanistan’s mountains, but that’s not the only thing that’s high about Hindu Kush—it packs a skyrocketing THC level of up to 32%. As far as its flavor and aroma profiles, Hindu Kush is one of the most unique on this list. It starts with a little bit of a skunky flavor that turns almost flowery and woodsy. The aroma, however, is floral, spicy, and herbaceous. If you plan to shop pre-weighed cannabis flower, Hindu Kush is sure to take you on a sensory journey.

Northern Lights: If you walk into one of our dispensaries and ask for an indica, nine times out of ten, you will be pointed to Northern Lights. This strain comes from an inbreeding of the Afghani landrace, and it lives up to its parent strain’s reputation. While it’s woodsy with a pungent, spicy hint of pine, Northern Lights also adds some sweetness to its flavor and aroma profile. Some cannabis enthusiasts also swear it has just a bit of a citrus tinge to it as well. As for THC, this pure indica tops out at 21%.

Afghan Purple Kush: If you’re looking for a plant with prestigious parents, look no further than Afghan Purple Kush. This indica strain comes from a cross of Afghan Kush and Purple Kush, two well-known landrace strains. Like the landraces it hails from, Afghan Purple Kush has a woodsy, earthy flavor and aroma with just a hint of pine in both. It also has moderately high levels of THC, topping off at around 21%. In addition to THC, this strain also has 1% CBD and 1% CBN. 

How Can You Consume Cannabis Indica?

Cannabis indica can be consumed any way you like. You can pack it into a pipe to smoke, shop concentrates to dab it, snag flower to roll, or find cannabis edibles to eat. There are indica products that you can enjoy as tinctures, transdermal patches, topical creams and salves, and so much more. Essentially, the same products created for hybrids and sativas are available for indica strains, so you don’t have to worry about sacrificing your favorite way to consume cannabis for indica. 

Where Can I Find Indica Cannabis Strains?

If you want to give one of our favorite indica cannabis strains a try, all you have to do is find a dispensary near you. Livwell budtenders are always happy to talk about their favorite indica strains while showing you the product they have available. It’s always worth trying new strains of indica, too, because you may find one cultivar creates a different experience with your endocannabinoid system than another. 

Please consume responsibly. This product may cause impairment and may be habit forming. There may be health risks associated with consumption of this product.  State laws impact what dispensaries can and can’t sell to recreational customers and medical marijuana patients. Not every type of product, consumption method, dosage form, or potency mentioned on this blog will be permitted in all locations.

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