What is cannabis indica?

What is cannabis indica?
Steven Voser

Cannabis indica is one of the two most well known subspecies of the cannabis plant. Read everything about indica and all related strains!

Cannabis indica is one of the two most well known subspecies of the cannabis plant. Indica split off from a common ancestor to all cannabis subspecies that emerged in central Asia and is thought to have originated on the Asian subcontinent or Afghanistan. Thought to be native to the Hindu Kush mountains, indica adapted to grow in harsh and cold climate conditions.

This subspecies received its name at the hands of French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck in 1785.[1] He chose this name based on observing the distinct difference he noticed between European hemp plants and the more medicinally potent plants grown within India at the time. So although cannabis indica did not originate in this region, it was certainly cultivate and channelled through to the rest of the world through India.

Cannabis indica strains have historically been used primarily to create medicinal formulas and produce hash and charas in different parts of the world. Naturally higher levels of THC made indica strains the plants of choice in the US during the late 1800s and early 1900s when cannabis was classified as a potent medicine and member of the US Pharmacopoeia. Pictures depicting glass bottles labelled with "Cannabis Indica", that would have been dispensed to citizens, can be found online.


American biologist and father of modern ethnobotany Richard Evans Schultes described cannabis indica as relatively short, conical, and densely branched. Indica strains are far more minute, compact and bushier than their sativa sisters. They reach a height of less than two meters and bare much wider leaves with a darker, greener look to them.

This dense structure turns out thick clumps of flowers that emerge from the nodes of the plant and are usually quite weighted and solid.

Due to its condensed nature, cannabis indica is very suited to growing indoors and will not explode in size much like a sativa strain.


Cannabinoid profile

Cannabis indica strains are usually high in cannabinoids THC, CBD and CBN. On average cannabis indica contains higher levels of THC in comparison to its CBD content. Due to intense hybridisation and selective breeding in many different parts of the world, this ratio can vary massively to either ends of the spectrum.


Although there is insufficient data to suggest it is true, many experienced smokers claim that there is a distinct difference between the mind state brought about from smoking indica and sativa strains. Indica strains have been long associated with sedating qualities. Dedicated smokers will tell you that indica strains provide more of a relaxing and calming sensation in comparison to the energetic buzz often associated with sativa strains.

It has been said that indica effects produce more of a "stoned" sensation than a "high" feeling, accompanied by a raging appetite, red eyes and a need to remain rested and still, often resulting in highly restful sleep.

For these reasons it is generally agreed that indica strains are best utilised in the late evening and night hours. Their ability to induce severe relaxation helps to diminish stress and lull a smoker to sleep.

Recreationally, indicas can add a touch more relaxation to a late night film or enhance the flavor of an evening meal. Medicinally, they could positively change the lives of those challenged by insomnia, PTSD, anxiety, depression and severe cases of stress.


Cannabis indica is ideally suited to indoor grow projects due to its compact nature, growing to about 3 to 6 feet in height. Its size enables a grower to house an optimal amount of plants within the accessible space.

Although sativa strains are linked to higher yields due to their increased size, a considerable amount of buds can be achieved from a indica grow considering correct growth management is applied. Optimal lighting, fertilisation and methods such as topping and pruning will all lend to an increased yield.

A bonus to growing indica strains is that they are very fast growing. Expect your ladies to start flowering relatively early at around eight to nine weeks after sowing.

Related Article

  1. ^ Wikipedia, Cannabis indica, retrieved January-23-2019

Steven Voser
Steven Voser

Steven is a long-time veteran of cannabis journalism, having delved into every aspect of the subject. His particular interests lie in cannabis culture, the emerging science of cannabis, and how it is shaping the legal landscape across the globe.