Where do indica and Sativa come from?
To understand the origins of the indica vs sativa debate, we need to take a quick dip into botanical history. Indica and sativa have been part of the cannabis lexicon since the mid-1700s. In 1753, Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus identified psychoactive cannabis plants as Cannabis sativa in his work Species Plantarum. Thirty-two years later, French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck identified Cannabis indica as a different species while observing the physical characteristics of India’s cannabis plants. Lamarck argued that C. indica plants have dark green, wide leaves compared to C. sativa leaves, which are light and narrow.
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How are these terms used now?
Almost immediately upon their inception, the terms indica and sativa were used to identify cannabis plants based on the shape and size of their main leaves and the amount of fiber they produced. Today’s cultivators use them for roughly the same purpose: separating plants into indica and sativa according to their growth traits and physical makeup.
Growers use indica, sativa, and hybrid to categorize plants based on their growth traits and resulting chemical profiles. Retailers may then market cannabis to consumers by categorizing strains under these terms — however misleading those categorizations may be. In other words, indica and sativa are still around because they still serve a purpose for cultivators, and old habits die hard among retailers.
Hybrid strains have become as prominent as indicas and sativas, if not more so. Depending on your perspective, the hybrid term can either complicate or simplify matters. While hybrids certainly present a more nuanced taxonomic reality, they do not provide a label that adequately indicates the effects that a user can expect from a cultivar. This is especially true as we recognize how differently our bodies react to cannabis.
Ever settle in to relax with some indica, only to find yourself in a high-energy cerebral haze? Or, have you tried sativa-dominant strains you heard were great for productivity and ended up in a prolonged, full-body couchlock? The truth is, you can’t always rely on your body to receive indica- or sativa-like effects from indica or sativa flower. You and your friend might smoke the exact same bud and have two distinct experiences
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