Cannabis sativa is a species of the Cannabaceae family that includes both marijuana and hemp varieties. Thriving in warmer weather, sativa strains originated in the countries located on or near the equator, such as Colombia, Mexico, Thailand, and Southeast Asia.
Cultivated throughout recorded history, cannabis sativa is harvested for its fiber, seeds, and oil, which have been historically used for industrial, nutritional, and medicinal purposes. Today, sativa cannabis strains still grow wild throughout many humid and tropical areas of the world.
Sativa strains are known for being extremely pungent, thanks to their distinct terpene profiles, producing aromas that can range from fruity, citrus, and sweet to earthy, piney, or peppery.
While weed strains can be a mix of sativa and indica genetics, there are several distinct differences between indica and sativa strains that are helpful to understand as you select one that’s right for you.
Reaching heights of up to 20 feet when grown outside, sativa plants are taller than indica strains. Their branches are spread out and grow upwards, while their palmately-arranged leaves are long and narrow. Unlike in indica strains where the plant’s flowers cluster around the nodes, in sativa strains, the plant’s flowers begin at its nodes and expand along the length of the stem.
Sativa plants have much longer vegetation periods than indica strains, taking anywhere from 10 to 16 weeks to fully mature during the flowering period. While sativa strains require more patience from growers, their longer vegetation periods result in a much higher yield, producing around 3 ounces to 1 pound of usable marijuana flower for every plant.
While cannabinoid profiles can vary significantly by strain, compared to indica strains, sativas generally contain a higher concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound that causes a high, and a lower concentration of the non-psychoactive compound cannabidiol (CBD). They also are naturally more abundant in tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), a compound with a similar molecular makeup as THC that scientists have yet to determine is psychoactive or not.
The cannabinoid profiles of sativa weed are known for eliciting stimulating mental effects that help users feel focused and motivated. The euphoric response produced by sativa effects is often described as “cerebral,” and it is also said to encourage deep conversation and enhance creativity, which is why it’s often most suited for daytime use or social situations and for artistic endeavors.
Because of its uplifting properties, sativa strains of medical marijuana are often used for patients dealing with mental ailments and mood disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Sativa strains with a higher concentration of THCV may also be beneficial for suppressing appetite to help lower body percentage to potentially play a role in the management of obesity.
Known for producing long-lasting body-relaxing and clear-headed effects that are beneficial for dealing with mood problems and anxiety, Amnesia Haze is a sativa strain that features up to 25 percent THC. Amnesia Haze is also a favorite of personal growers because it produces one of the greatest flower yields of all sativa strains.
Commonly referred to as “Sour D,” the Sour Diesel sativa strain offers about 19 percent THC for invigorating yet dreamy cerebral effects. It’s also a popular choice among medical marijuana patients attempting to manage stress, pain, or depression.
Named after its pungent strawberry scent and tendency to make the consumer cough, Strawberry Cough is a potent sativa blend containing 24 to 26 percent THC. Typically used by those more experienced with medical marijuana, strawberry cough is known to offer uplifting, euphoric effects that are beneficial for managing anxiety and stress.
You can also find hybrids that feature both indica and sativa characteristics like the popular sativa dominant hybrid strain Blue Dream.