How to Identify Sativa, Indica, and Hybrid Strains

How to Identify Sativa, Indica, and Hybrid Strains

Table of Contents:
Types of Cannabis
Cannabis Sativa
How Does Sativa Make You Feel?
Best Sativa Strains
Physical Differences Between Sativa & Indica
Cannabis Indica
How Does Indica Make You Feel?
Best Indica Strains
Hybrid Cannabis
How Does Hybrid Marijuana Make You Feel?
Best Hybrid Strains
Best Strains of Weed

Types of Cannabis

The cannabis plant has been growing worldwide for thousands of years. Today, it has been crossbred so much that it is difficult to find a non-hybrid strain. But long ago, cannabis had three distinct species: cannabis sativa, cannabis indica, and cannabis ruderalis.

Cannabis ruderalis is a short, dense, and fibrous form of cannabis that contains little to no THC, so you don’t hear about it much in the cannabis industry. 

However, you have probably heard of the other two types and may be wondering: What’s the difference between indica and sativa cannabis? 

And what does it mean when a strain is a hybrid? 

Read on to learn all you need to know about indica, sativa, and hybrid weed!

Cannabis Sativa

Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus was the first to identify and name Cannabis sativa, back in the mid-1700s. Cannabis sativa plants can grow up to 5-18 feet tall, so they are often identified by their height. Sativa plants feature long, thin leaves and a minimal number of branches.

When cultivating sativa plants, growers provide them a warm, humid environment. Sativa plants tend to need lots of light, but less fertilizer than indica plants. Sativa plants should be grown in a room with high ceilings due to their stature.

multi colored weed

How Does Sativa Make You Feel?

Sativas are known for their “head high,” as they tend to boost creativity, focus, productivity, and energy. For this reason, sativas are recommended as better for daytime use.

Effects of Sativa Weed

  • Best for daytime use
  • Head high
  • Alertness
  • Boosts creativity
  • Euphoric/Uplifting
  • Increased energy 

Best Sativa Strains

Two of the most popular sativa strains are:

Illicit clementine weed strain
Illicit Clementine Weed Strain

1. Clementine

Tangie and Lemon Haze come together to create this sweet sativa. As its name suggests, Clementine has a fresh citrus aroma which energizes the senses. Clementine’s yummy flavor and focus-boosting effects make it a perfect daytime strain.

Find out more about the Illicit Clementine Strain we carry.

2. Diesel Train

This powerhouse strain will fill you with vim and vigor. Users love the energetic boost they get from this gassy cross between Ghost Train Haze and East Coast Sour Diesel. 

A sativa-dominant hybrid, Diesel Train will keep you “on track” for whatever the day has in store.

Physical Differences Between Sativa & Indica Strains

sativa indica graphic
Some of the differences between sativa and indica plants can be seen in this helpful diagram from Leafly.

From above image:


  • Tall in stature
  • Narrow leaves
  • Longer flowering cycles
  • Better suited for warm climates with a long season


  • Shorter in stature
  • Broad leaves
  • Shorter flowering cycles
  • Suitable for colder climates with a shorter season

Read next: What are the Best Weed Strains for Anxiety?

Cannabis Indica

A few decades after the identification of cannabis sativa, French biologist Jean-Baptiste LaMarck was working with another type of cannabis plant in India. These plants had darker, wider leaves than the cannabis sativa plant. He decided to call them Cannabis indica

Indica plants only reach a height of 2-4 feet, and tend to be shorter and fatter than sativas. Indicas also have a bushier appearance due to their abundance of branches.

Unlike sativa plants, indica plants can flourish in a variety of temperatures. They also have a faster growing cycle than sativas. Indica plants are more resilient which makes them easier to grow, but they are more susceptible to mold due to their dense flowers.

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How Does Indica Make You Feel?

Relaxed and sleepy, probably. Indica strains provide more of a “body high,” known to potentially relieve pain and keep you locked to the couch. 

Does indica make you tired? 

Usually yes, so it is recommended for nighttime use. Indica strains can be great for those with insomnia.

Effects of Indica Weed

  • Best for nighttime use
  • Body high
  • Pain relief
  • Relaxation
  • Stimulates appetite 
  • Sleep aid

Best Indica Strains

Looking for popular indica strains? Check these two out:

Illicit Purple Chem Strain
Illicit Purple Chem Strain

1. Purple Chem

This cross between Stardawg and Purple Punch is also known as Purple Chemdawg. Purple Chem’s syrupy grape aroma is a sweet preview for the relaxing slowness that this indica-dominant hybrid will provide. 

Known for its pain-relieving properties and calming effects, Purple Chem is perfect for a sleepy night in.

Our sister brand Illicit was voted best cannabis company, best new product, best packaging design, and best vape in the Readers Choice Awards by Greenway Magazine.
Find out what Illicit products (and strain) won awards! Hint: Purple Chem was involved.

2. Grease Monkey

With a diesel smell like an auto shop, Grease Monkey will lubricate your joints and ease your pain, nausea, and stress. This Cookies n’ Cream / GG4 cross is known to make you drowsy and hungry, so stay close to home for a bed and some sustenance.

Hybrid Cannabis

What’s hybrid weed?

Hybrid cannabis strain is just that—cannabis that is a blend of sativa and indica strains. Cannabis has been crossbred for so many years that the majority of strains on the market today are hybrid, although many are still categorized as sativa-dominant or indica-dominant.

How Does Hybrid Marijuana Make You Feel?

If your hybrid cannabis is not categorized as sativa-dominant, or indica dominant, you may have to guess. One way you can make an educated guess rather than a stab in the dark is to check out its terpene profile!

Lemons and hybrid weed flower
Terpenes give plants their fragrance. They also alter the effects of different cannabis strains. 


Terpenes are like the “essential oils” of cannabis. Actually, all plants contain terpenes. Terpenes give plants their unique aromas, and are the reason that cannabis strains all have such a distinct bouquet. 

But terpenes don’t just provide smell—they actually have benefits and effects of their own. In fact, looking at a strain’s terpene profile may give you even more information about its effects than knowing if its indica or sativa. 

Energizing Terpenes

If you are looking for more of a daytime, “sativa” experience, find a hybrid weed that contains terpenes known for boosting creativity, energy, and focus. These include limonene, terpinolene, and pinene.

Relaxing Terpenes

Needing pain relief or wanting a relaxing night on the couch? Terpenes that are associated with that sleepy, “indica” type of high are myrcene, caryophyllene, and linalool.

Best Hybrid Strains

A couple of popular hybrid strains that known for their balanced effects are:

Illicit gelato strain macro view
Illicit Gelato Strain Macro View

1. Gelato

A cross between Sunset Sherbet and Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies, Gelato is a sweet sensation. 

Providing body relaxation and pain relief, but also boosting focus and productivity, this powerful & fast-acting strain is also known as Larry Bird and Gelato #42.

Check out Illicit’s Gelato strain.

2. Mimosa

This Clementine/Purple Punch cross is a true hybrid that provides energizing effects in smaller amounts, and sedative effects with larger doses. 
Also known as Purple Mimosa, Mimosa smells and tastes like its namesake and is said to ease depression and boost motivation.

Best Strains of Weed

Whether you’re looking for sativa, indica, or hybrid cannabis, you can find all the top weed strains at From The Earth. We offer only the best quality, pesticide-free flower, and a wide variety of other pure and potent cannabis products. 

Find your closest Missouri dispensary here, or shop our delivery menu from the comfort of your own home!

*Know that some products are available in certain From The Earth dispensaries. If you order online for pick up, make sure you use the correct location’s menu. You can find all dispensary location menus here. 

Ready to Shop? Find a Missouri dispensary near you!

Note: This article is not medical advice. Please consult with your doctor for treatment for any medical conditions.  

About the Author:

David Craig is the VP of Marketing for Illicit and From The Earth. Craig has been on the ground floor of developing multiple lifestyle and retail brands in the cannabis, fitness, and entertainment industries from Las Vegas to New York City. He previously developed flagship properties for global group fitness concept TruFusion. Prior, he opened Drai’s Las Vegas entertainment properties and oversaw Marketing & Corporate Events.