Comparing Cannabis Strains
As you may have heard, there are three main sub-species of cannabis that are cultivated throughout the world. The most widely known varieties, by far, are Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica, while their less-known cousin is Cannabis Ruderalis. Each of the sub-species has unique characteristics that have resulted from its adaptation to varying environments.
C. Sativa, for instance, originated in tropical equatorial regions and is known to grow very tall, often in excess of 10 – 15 feet in height.
Sativa strains are renowned for their higher THC content, and many breeders crossbreed sativa strains with indica strains. This kind of crossbreeding takes advantage of the greater yield and smaller size that comes with the indica genetics, and the higher THC content of the sativa genetics. So essentially, you can have your cake and eat it too.
Sativa strains are also reputed for having more cerebral or mind-based effects, and from the limited research done into various cannabinoids this would correlate to the higher THC content. THC binds to the CB1 receptors that are most abundant in the brain, whereas other cannabinoids such as CBN and CBD bind to the CB2 receptors located most densely in the rest of the body.
By contrast, C. Indica was originally cultivated in Southeast Asia and in slightly more northern latitudes. Indica plants are known for their shorter, bushier growth, producing far more branches and nodes, and therefore producing far more bud for their size. Pure indica strains are generally lower in THC content than their Sativa cousins, though.
A sativa strain may average anywhere from 16 – 24% THC content, whereas a pure indica strain will generally have lower THC content, averaging anywhere from 6 – 14% with some room for variation. One of the distinct advantages of an indica strain, however, is that they often have higher levels of CBN or CBD and other cannabinoid content.
Finally, C. Ruderalis is not generally grown as a pure strain, at least not for its psychoactive content. The ruderalis strains that have developed in different regions of the world, spanning from Russia and former Soviet states to Canada and the Midwest United States, have acclimated to grow short, fast and generally to flower based on age rather that light cycle.
Since most ruderalis strains have grown wild, outside of human cultivation and the selective breeding that goes wit it, they are significantly lower in THC content. One notable use of the ruderalis strains, and the chief reason for their recent resurgence among some breeders, is their usefulness in crossbreeding with indica or sativa hybrids to produce auto flowering strains.