Indica is a classification for a family of marijuana plants with its own distinct morphology, including plant size, leaf shape, and chemical profile. Indica landrace strains are generally agreed to have originated near Central Asia and spread to regions in India, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Morocco, and Turkey.
These original indica landraces (a region’s native, naturally-occurring cannabis strain) are locally adapted strains optimized through natural evolution to grow in their specific microclimates. Indica landraces like Afghani Kush, Hindu Kush, and Mazar I Sharif generally thrived between 30° and 50° latitudes by adapting to these local growing conditions.
Most indica strains found on dispensary shelves are not pure landrace indicas. Rather, they are indica-dominant hybrids created by crossbreeding two or more individual strains. Original landrace strains now mostly exist as heirloom strains and are rarely found in commercial shops.
Indica strains are known for producing high quantities of resin, perhaps as an adaptation to protect itself against harsh weather conditions in the mountainous regions from which it originates. This high resin content in these indica strains was ideal for making hash, the dominant form for consuming indica strains early in the cannabis trade that remains popular in much of the Eastern Hemisphere still today.
Indica strains are known for having flavor profiles ranging from sweet musk and rich earth to dark fruit, like berry and grape. Effects from indica strains manifest predominantly in the body, though the hundreds of indica dominant hybrids that are available differ widely in their effect profiles.
There are several distinct differences between indicas and sativas that are helpful to recognize when choosing a strain. Remember, your perfect strain may be a hybrid mix of indica and sativa genetics.
Indica strains tend to grow short and and bushy – usually under 6 feet tall. Leaves of an indica plant are also thicker and broader than those of a sativa plant. Indica plants produce less of a yield than sativa plants. However, this lower yield is offset by an indica’s shorter growing cycle. Because they are short and bushy, indica strains are well suited for growing indoors.
Indica strains of cannabis are well known for providing significant body effects, while sativas are more cerebral. Indicas also have different flavor profiles than sativas, with sativas tending toward flavors like pine and citrus.
There is a wide range of users who can benefit from using an indica strain, thanks to their primarily physical effects.
Some users turn to indica-dominant strains after strenuous activity like hiking, rock climbing, cross-training, and more to better manage their recovery. Others hope indica strains may help with more chronic concerns. Indicas are also ideal for nights spent in watching a movie or binge watching TV as a way to disconnect.
When used in higher amounts, indicas tend cause a relaxation that patients strongly prefer to stay sedentary. This incredible relaxation is good for unwinding from a long day or a busy week. People sometimes experience “couchlock” or the sensation of being stuck to the couch. Some of the heavier indicas are perfect for before bed, helping you to clear your mind and physically soften into sleep.
Although there are hundreds of indica strains available, current indica strains have all developed genetically from original Central Asian landraces, as mentioned above. It is the crossbreeding of indica strains with other indicas or even sativas that has given us the immense diversity we see among the indica family tree.
An example of this breeding can be seen in the popular indica strain Skywalker. A blend of Blueberry and Mazar I Sharif, Skywalker is favored among users for its deeply relaxing effects. Those hoping to soften Skywalker’s sedative effects can pick up Skywalker OG. A mix of Skywalker and OG Kush, Skywalker OG offers a more euphoric experience than Skywalker’s heavy indica high alone.
Those hoping for a potent strain to support sleep may turn to Grandaddy Purp. Itself a hybrid of legendary indica genetics, Grandaddy Purp is capable of creating a sedative effect that promotes rest and recovery. Grandaddy Purp’s deep grape flavor has become iconic among indica flavor profiles.
For anyone facing high levels of stress everyday, Bubba Kush, likely an Afghani Kush decedent, is sure to move the mind away from triggering thoughts, while its never-too-subtle tranquilization soothes the tightness where stress is held.