One area that is a constant source of confusion is the different species and strains.
Most people have heard of indica and sativa. They are the two primary species of cannabis, although there is also a third called ruderalis. Each of these species has its own story to tell and its own distinct characteristics. Here, we zero in on indicas.
Appearance and origins
Cannabis plants all have a broadly recognizable form, but if you were to place an indica and a sativa plant side by side, you would notice the indica is smaller, more bushy and has leaves that are short and rounded, compared to the longer, thinner ones on the sativa.
Part of that difference comes down to their origins. Indicas grow naturally in the rugged and mountainous regions of the Middle East and Asia, in nations that include Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan. This background information is important to know when cultivating plants at home, as we shall see in a moment.
This is another area in which there is plenty of rumor and misinformation, not least because most commercially produced strains of cannabis are hybrids of indica and sativa, making generalizations even less relevant. None the less, there is certain anecdotal evidence to support the common belief that indicas engender feelings of calm and tranquility, while sativas promote euphoria and are more likely to get you giggling uncontrollably.
For example, the Northern Lights strain is one of the classic indica-dominant varieties and is one of the best for chilling out. Many also say it has therapeutic benefits and can help with stress or depression, although the evidence to support this is still largely anecdotal at present.
Across the board, indicas have slightly higher levels of CBD and lower THC than their sativa cousins. However, these are averages across dozens of strains, so it is unproductive to generalize too much.
Those clues as to indica’s origins earlier should tell you one thing – it grows in the harshest of environments. Surely that will mean growing it yourself will be a breeze? Unfortunately, things are not quite that simple, although indicas are easier, faster and less “fussy” to grow than sativas, and so are usually the best choice for inexperienced growers.
It is a myth, though, to suggest you don’t need to bother about maintaining the correct light, temperature and humidity. Sure, indica will grow on a bleak Tibetan mountainside, but the thin, straggly specimens will yield precious little in the way of buds. Ultimately, whatever species or strain of cannabis you choose to grow, you will find that the more assiduously you manage the conditions, the more richly you will be rewarded when the time comes to harvest your crop.
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