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how to tell if your bud is sativa or indica

How to Tell if Your Bud is Sativa or Indica?

As the two main strains of marijuana, Sativa and Indica are important to know about for those keen on the green stuff. They play a crucial role in understanding the effects you’re getting. But how to tell if your bud is Sativa or Indica? Are there certain things to look out for?

The debate surrounding Sativa and Indica seems endless among the weed community, with some confusion around the effects of each one. But while it all seems a little overwhelming, we’re here to reassure you that it isn’t all that complicated.

Once you know a few of the characteristics to look out for, you don’t have to give yourself a headache trying to figure out which one is best for you. These include the differences in leaf and bud shapes, flower density, and the aromas and flavours.

And once you have a better understanding, you can easily get your hands on the best Indica and Sativa strains on the market.

But before you reach that step, let’s rewind a little and help you fully understand how to tell if your bud is Sativa or Indica.


History of Sativa and Indica


To truly understand what Sativa and Indica are all about, it’s valuable to have some background on where it all originated. Don’t worry, we’ll keep this little history lesson short.

Studies suggest this was in Central Asia, where it then migrated to Western and Southern Asia at the end of the Pleistocene epoch.

It was at this time that the first main geographical split occurred in the marijuana population. Or in other words, the time when two distinct species of cannabis were determined…plants used for their hemp properties, and plants used for their psychoactive properties.

These can be loosely linked back to Sativa and Indica respectively, but loosely is the key term here. Not all Sativa strains provide an energizing high, and not all Indica strains provide a psychoactive high.

Further research will probably lead to a major shift in language used to refer to cannabis strains and their effects. But for the moment, the wider community is still continuing to refer to narrow-leaf varieties as Sativa, and bushy-leaf varieties as Indica.  


Telling Sativa and Indica Apart

So, now that you’re pretty much a history major on these two popular strains, let’s dive right into the differences between the two.

Physical Differences

At first glance, you’ll be able to distinguish the difference between leaf shape quite easily. The buds also look quite different, and are easily discernible just by their shape.


  • Tall plant
  • Narrow, thin and tall leaves
  • Long and thin buds


  • Short plant
  • Wide, bushy and short leaves
  • Compact and solid buds


Effect Differences

Things aren’t so black-and-white in terms of the effects you’ll experience when consuming these strains. Other factors come into account, such as cannabinoids, terpenes, and of course your own metabolism and make-up. Everyone reacts differently to certain strains.

As a general rule-of-thumb, you should know that Sativa gives you an energizing head-high, while Indica is more of a sedative and makes you sleepy.

The following factors will determine the type of effect you’ll get from any one strain:


THC and CBD are the two most popular cannabinoids and are the main determining factor behind marijuana’s recreational and medicinal effects. THC is what gives you that couch-locking high in large amounts, while CBD does not give you a high and rather helps with relieving pain, anxiety, depression and other conditions overtime.


These are a naturally occurring compound within the cannabis plant, and they are said to affect cannabis strains depending on how much is incorporated. (This is yet to be confirmed, though, and research is still being conducted.)


One of the main factors that affects how you’ll react to marijuana is yourself! Is it your first time? How much experience do you have with different strains and levels of THC? Do you suffer from anxiety? All of these will affect how you react to your bud.


Taste Differences

Telling these two stains apart by their taste or aroma definitely isn’t an easy feat for beginners. This is where terpenes come into play, which as you’ll have learned from above, are a naturally occurring compound within the plant.


  • Often earthy or fuel-y scents and tastes.


  • Often sweet and fruity scents and tastes.

There is still much research to be done about terpenes and their effects on marijuana strains. But you can get a rough idea of each terpene and how it changes the aroma or taste of certain strains.


Best Sativa and Indica Strains

These Sativa strains are known for giving you an uplifting boost to take on the day. Some of them are a little more mellowed out, in case you don’t want something too hyper.

  • Grapefruit
  • Jungle Cake
  • Juicy Fruit
  • Citrus Haze
  • Tangerine Dream
  • Chocolope
  • Texada Timewarp
  • Russian Cream


These Indica strains are popular for their sedative, relaxing effects, but not all of them will give you a couch-locking high.

  • Rockstar Kush
  • Three Queens
  • Mike Tyson
  • Trap Gas OG
  • Pumpkin Kush
  • Organic Rockstar
  • Black Gas
  • Sherbet Dawg
  • Cookie
  • Death Bubba

Final Thoughts

Now that we’ve shed some light on one of the most popular debates in the cannabis community, we hope you now have a clearer understanding of how to tell if your bud is Sativa or Indica. A few main points to remember: Sativa is tall and narrow, gives uplifting effects, and tastes strong and earthy. Indica is short and dense, gives relaxing effects, and tastes sweet and fruity.

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