Sativa - What It Is - What It Does - What It's For?

What Is Sativa Flower?

 sativa flower

 

Sativa cannabis strains are often known to have uplifting effects and this holds true for hemp strains as well. We have talked about the difference between indica and sativas, but today we want to hone in on what sativas are, what they do and also mention some of the most popular sativa strains. Most cannabis conscious individuals have heard the old adage that sativas provide uplifting effects and indicas are more sedating, but it gets deeper than that, let's take a dip into the world of sativa flowers.

 Cannabis sativa strains are recognized by long, thin fan leaves and tend to have longer flowering times. The slender sativa leaf can have as many as 13 fingers. Sativas flourish in warmer climates, like the Caribbean and South America and can naturally grow up to 12-20 feet tall in a season!

Now that we know how to identify a sativa cannabis or hemp plant, let's talk about what they actually are.

 

What are sativa strains? Where do they come from?

Sativas and indicas are typically characterized by their effects, but what exactly is a sativa? Usually cannabis smokers  hear the term sativa and think of an energizing, uplifting, and a more cerebral high. But let's talk about the history of sativas and how it all began.

It's important to note that cannabis was originally on one genus, cannabis indica. It was a local plant that grew in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains, before traveling all over the world. When cannabis indica plants were brought to warm climates, like Southeast Asia, South America and other areas located in the tropics, cannabis sativa was born.

Since the plants brought to these new environments, had longer daylight periods, more intense sunlight and warmer temperatures, they naturally evolved to grow in these regions. As stated before, the leaves grew thinner and longer, the buds themselves became slightly more airy, than there denser indica cousins. sativas are known for fluffy buds, fruity flavors and uplifting effects. Rastafarians in Jamaica have traditionally used sativa strains, like "Lambsbread" as an uplifting start to their workday, similar to an expresso or cup of coffee.

This must be taken with a grain of salt, as some sativas actually have a sedating effect. Generally speaking, as a rule of thumb many sativas are perfect day smokes which do uplift. On the flip side, many indicas do not actually sedate, but have sativa like effects and are more energizing. We understand, it gets a little confusing, but continue reading and we will try to weed through the facts and misconceptions.

Effects have less to do with the destination between sativas and indicas, as do plant structure and growth characteristics. For this reason, the terms sativa and indica are really more important to cannabis and hemp breeders.

Cannabis cultivators recognize sativas, mainly by their growth characteristics. Sativas strains tend to be taller than indicas and have long, thin leaves, while indicas are much shorter and contain broad, short leaves. Sativas also take much longer to mature during the flowering stage, with flowering times of up to 9-14 weeks. Compare that with indicas, which usually flower in 7-10 weeks.

History of sativa

The term sativa is actually a derivative of the Latin botanical word sativum, meaning cultivated. The earliest recorded usage of sativa as a cannabis term comes from English herbalist William Turner's The Names of Herbes (1548), in which Cannabis sativa is the scientific name used to describe cultivated hemp.

Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus ascribed the name C. sativa to what he considered the only species of the genus Cannabis in 1753. Thirty-two years later, French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck identified Cannabis indica as a unique species from Cannabis sativa, creating the foundation of our current sativa/indica distinction.

Lamarck's basis for his C. indica classification was on physical differences from Linnaeus's C. sativa plant, including narrow, dark green leaves and denser branching. In addition, he stated that C. indica had more inebriating effects than  C. sativa, marking the first reference to the indica versus sativa distinction, based on the kind of high produced.

Then, in 1974 American biologist Richard Evans Schultes applied the term C. indica to cannabis plants originating Afghanistan, marking a new characteristic, the geographic location of the plants. The truth is that science was rediscovering the fact that cannabis came from this region, then spread to other regions, creating sub-species of cannabis plants, cannabis sativa. Cannabis breeders of today realize that indicas are from the areas of Afghanistan and Nepal and realize why that is so. Shorter, stout plants with dense buds were necessary to survive the environmental conditions of the region, so scientific discovery led us to the origins of the cannabis plant.

Today we recognize the differences between sativas and indicas as cannabis enthusiasts. However, many countries only recognize one species, Cannabis sativa, and it remains highly debated whether indica is actually subspecies. The cannabis community has little doubt there are two types of plants and history proves this is so. Countries can debate all they want in terms of classifying cannabis, but botanists and consumers alike can clearly show a notable difference.

sativa vs indica

Sativas vs Indicas?

For breeders and cultivators of hemp and cannabis, noting the differences is key to  successful grow. If you have a short grow season, like we do here in the Pacific Northwest, you tend to stay away from sativa genetics, unless they flower quickly and luckily we do have many sativa options. Our Eden strain for instance is an extremely fast flowering strain and even finishes before many of our indica strains,  like Dream Fuel, or Kimbo Kush. This is the best hemp flower for energy.

From a cannabis growers view, the difference between sativas in indicas is mainly in growth and plant structure, not the effects of the high. A grower will recognize the thin leaves of a sativa, or the short bushy nature of an indica plant and classify them accordingly.

Sativa plants have longer flowering times, generally like warm climates with long seasons, and usually grow taller with narrow, light-green leaves. In landrace strains, sativas tend to produce higher concentrations of THCA when compared to CBDA than indicas. Long story short, indicas usually get their more sedative effects from there being more CBD in them and sativas tend to have more THC.

As a result of extensive crossbreeding, pure bred landrace strains are quite rare. As a result, almost all the commercial hemp and cannabis strains are really hybrids, to be honest. It's more a case of whether they are indica or sativa leaning and for that we use physical clues, in both growth patters and physical effects on the user, to classify todays cannabis plants.

 

What are the effects of a sativa?

For consumers, they care less about whether a plant grows like an indica or sativa and are more concerned with the effect. All of the crossbreeding has made it more difficult to classify hemp and cannabis on sight alone. There may be sativa like terpenes in an indica looking hybrid and as a result the effects are more uplifting. That is why we cannot judge a book by its cover when classifying CBD or cannabis flower. It's up to the user to experience each individual strain and the names indica, or sativa only provide a rule of thumb or a likelihood. But generally speaking a sativa dominant plant will have an energetic, up effect you would want to experience during the day.

Are sativas uplifting?

Most of the time yes. Sativas are definitely the best hemp flowers for energy. Sativas are generally the perfect "wake and bake" strains, as they won't get you sleepy and will boost your mood. Compared with many indicas, which produce "couch lock", you would not want to light up a bowl of Kimbo Kush first thing in the morning, unless you want to lounge around all day, which might be fine. Hey, we have all smoked a little indica on a day off, like on the weekend and watched Netflix, but let's just not make it a habit. 

It's interesting to note that strains grown in different regions tend to alter their effects. For example, an indica grown in Florida may exhibit sativa like effects and vice versa. A sativa grown in Canada may en up being more stoney than the description you typically get on Leafly.

On top of that, cannabis effects have more to do with the makeup of a user's particular endocannabinoid system (ECS), than a plant's genetics.

Terpenes, cannabinoids and the individuals endocannabinoid system all play a role in determining a CBD or cannabis flowers effects. For instance, some of our customers report a sedating effect from our organic Lavender CBG strain, while others love it for its uplifting effects. Weird. So which one is it? It's a matter of personal preference, different smokes for different folks.

If you buy hemp online, you will likely see each strain classified as indica, sativa, or hybrid. The addition of hybrid to the cannabis lexicon is a signal that cannabis marketing is catching up to reality. All modern hemp cultivars are technically hybrids. 

Sativa flower benefits

  • Uplifting and energizing
  • Anti Depressant
  • Non drowsy
  • High in THCA
  • Mood enhancer
  • Great for daytime use
  • Great for social or outdoor activities
  • The best hemp flower for energy

Popular Sativa Strains (Cannabis)

  • Purple Haze
  • Acapulco Gold
  • Super Lemon Haze
  • Maui Wowie
  • Sour Diesel

 

Popular Sativas (CBD Flower)

Conclusion

Scientific research has not yet caught up to the massive amount of crossbreeding that cannabis and hemp genetics have undergone. Todays consumer is well aware of things like terpene profiles, whether or not the plant was grown organically and what were the curing methods. Todays cannabis and CBD flower smokers are more educated on this plant than most botanists at this point. This means more informed decisions at the dispensary and a better overall smoking experience.

Dr. Ethan Russo states, predicting the effects of a cannabis cultivar requires us to “quantify the biochemical components of a given Cannabis strain and correlate these with the observed effects in real patients.” If a hemp strain produces sativa-like effects, it will have more to do with the terpene content than plant structure or the cannabinoid content. For example, strains high in limonene, whether sativa or indica, are very likely to facilitate an uplifted mood. As you now, here at Dreamland Organics, this is why we focus on terpenes, not cannabinoid percentage.

The terms sativa and indica are more valuable for cannabis cultivators and breeders, than they are for consumers at this point. So remember that your hemp buds sativa or indica lineage is only to be taken with a grain of salt and on a case by case basis. Don't be so rigid as to disregard all indicas, just because you like up effects. There may be some sativa like effects hidden in those indica hemp buds. And likewise don't continue to smoke a sativa strain just because it's labeled sativa, if the effects don't suit you.

Want to find your new favorite sativa, hybrid or indica hemp strain? We recommend trying a hemp flower sampler pack and you can be the final say in the indica vs sativa debate.

Happy medicating!

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