Cannabis indica

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Cannabis indica
Row (Purple Kush)
Purple Kush
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Rosales
Family: Cannabaceae
Genus: Cannabis
Species: C. indica
Binomial name
Cannabis indica

Cannabis indica, formally known as Cannabis sativa forma indica,[citation needed] is an annual plant in the Cannabaceae family. A putative species of the genus Cannabis.


In 1785, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck published a description of a second species of Cannabis, which he named Cannabis indica. Lamarck based his description of the newly named species on plant specimens collected in India. Richard Evans Schultes described C. indica as relatively short, conical, and densely branched, whereas C. sativa was described as tall and laxly branched.[1] Loran C. Anderson described C. indica plants as having short, broad leaflets whereas those of C. sativa were characterized as relatively long and narrow.[2][3] Cannabis indica plants conforming to Schultes's and Anderson's descriptions may have originated from the Hindu Kush mountain range. Because of the often harsh and variable (extremely cold winters, and warm summers) climate of those parts, C. indica is well-suited for cultivation in temperate climates.[citation needed]


Broad-leafed Cannabis indica plants in India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan are traditionally cultivated for the production of charas. Pharmacologically, C. indica landraces tend to have a higher cannabidiol (CBD) content than C. sativa strains[4][5] Some commercially available indica strains have been selected for high levels of CBD, with some users reporting more of a "stoned" feeling and less of a "high" from C. indica when compared to C. sativa.[6] The Cannabis indica high is often referred to as a "body buzz" and has beneficial properties such as pain relief in addition to being an effective treatment for insomnia and an anxiolytic, as opposed to sativa's more common reports of a "spacey" and mental inebriation, and even, albeit rarely, comprising hallucinations.[7] Differences in the terpenoid content of the essential oil may account for some of these differences in effect.[8][9] Common indica strains for recreational or medicinal use include Kush and Northern Lights.

A recent genetic analysis included both the narrow-leaflet and wide-leaflet drug "biotypes" under C. indica, as well as southern and eastern Asian hemp (fiber/seed) landraces and wild Himalayan populations.[10]

Difference between C. indica and C. sativa

There are several key differences between Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa. These include height and stature, internodal length, leaf size and structure, buds size and density, flowering time, odour, smoke and effects.[11] Indica plants tend to grow shorter and bushier than the sativa plants. Indica strains tend to have wide, short leaves with short wide blades, whereas sativa strains have long leaves with thin long blades. The buds of indica strains tend to be wide, dense and bulk, while sativa strains are likely to be long, sausage shaped flowers.[12]

On average, Cannabis indica has higher levels of THC compared to CBD, whereas Cannabis sativa has lower levels of THC to CBD.[5] However, huge variability exists within either species.

A note about the relative CBD to THC ratios mentioned here. These are merely comparative values, we must not interpret that the CBD is higher than THC in a typical strain of indica developed over the last 50 years. The reverse is generally true with a ratio of 20:1 (THC:CBD) being average in most cannabis strains.

In the recent era of cannabis breeding high CBD strains are being developed from Indica origins that will test out as 1:1 or even as high as a 22:1 ratio. The medical interests in Cannabis are taking this further and we will see more strains developed with a reverse CBD:THC ratio. Low anxiety and hallucinogenic properties make these "CBD strains" very desirable for chronic treatment programs.

There are three chemotaxonomic types of Cannabis: one with high levels of THC, one which is more fibrous and has higher levels of CBD, and one that is an intermediate between the two.[5][13]

Cannabis strains with relatively high CBD:THC ratios are less likely to induce anxiety than vice versa. This may be due to CBD's antagonistic effects at the cannabinoid receptors, compared to THC's partial agonist effect.[citation needed] CBD is also a 5-HT1A receptor (serotonin) agonist, which may also contribute to an anxiolytic-content effect.[14] The effects of sativa are well known for its cerebral high. Users can expect a more vivid and uplifting high, while indica is well known for its sedative effects which some prefer for night time use. Indica possesses a more calming, soothing, and numbing experience in which can be used to relax or relieve pain. This is mainly because of the higher CBD:THC ratio.[14] Both types are used as medical cannabis.

During the 1970s, Cannabis indica strains from Afghanistan and Hindu Kush were brought to the United States, where the first hybrids with Cannabis sativa plants from equatorial areas were developed, widely spreading marijuana cultivation throughout the States.[15]

The name indica originally referred to the geographical area in which the plant was grown.[16] Whether C. sativa and C. indica are separate species is still a matter of debate.[17] However, investigation into chemotaxonomic differences support a two-species hypothesis.[5]


In 2011, a team of Canadian researchers announced that they had sequenced a draft genome of the Purple Kush variety of C. indica.[18]

See also


  1. Richard Evans Schultes, William M. Klein, Timothy Plowman & Tom E. Lockwood (1974). "Cannabis: an example of taxonomic neglect" (PDF). Harvard University Botanical Museum Leaflets. 23: 337–367. 
  2. Loran C. Anderson (1980). "Leaf variation among Cannabis species from a controlled garden". Harvard University Botanical Museum Leaflets. 28 (1): 61–69. 
  3. Dr. Loran C. Anderson - FSU Biological Science Faculty Emeritus
  4. Fischedick, Justin Thomas; Hazekamp, Arno; Erkelens, Tjalling; Choi, Young Hae; Verpoorte, Rob (December 2010). "Metabolic fingerprinting of Cannabis sativa L., cannabinoids and terpenoids for chemotaxonomic and drug standardization purposes". Phytochemistry. 71 (17-18): 2058–2073. PMID 21040939. doi:10.1016/j.phytochem.2010.10.001. Retrieved 30 May 2015. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Karl W. Hillig; Paul G. Mahlberg (2004). "A chemotaxonomic analysis of cannabinoid variation in Cannabis (Cannabaceae)". American Journal of Botany. 91 (6): 966–975. PMID 21653452. doi:10.3732/ajb.91.6.966. 
  6. "Sativa vs Indica." AMSTERDAM – THE CHANNELS. Web. 05 Dec. 2010. <>.
  7. "Difference Marijuana Cannabis Sativa and Indica, Sativa or Indica Marijuana Seed Strains.". Amsterdam Marijuana Seeds Seed Bank. 
  8. McPartland, J. M.; Russo, E. B. (2001). "Cannabis and Cannabis extracts: greater than the sum of their parts?". Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics. 1 (3/4): 103–132. doi:10.1300/J175v01n03_08. 
  9. Karl W. Hillig (2004). "A chemotaxonomic analysis of terpenoid variation in Cannabis". Biochemical Systematics and Ecology. 32 (10): 875–891. doi:10.1016/j.bse.2004.04.004. 
  10. Karl W. Hillig (2005). "Genetic evidence for speciation in Cannabis (Cannabaceae)". Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution. 52: 161–180. doi:10.1007/s10722-003-4452-y. 
  11. "Indica vs Sativa – Differences". Freedom Seeds. 
  12. Ed, Rosenthal (2010). Marijuana Grower's Handbook (Ask ed.). Oakland, California: Quick American Publishing. p. 40. ISBN 978-0-932551-46-7. 
  13. Fischedick, Justin Thomas; Hazekamp, Arno; Erkelens, Tjalling; Choi, Young Hae; Verpoorte, Rob (December 2010). "Metabolic fingerprinting of Cannabis indica L., cannabinoids and terpenoids for chemotaxonomic and drug standardization purposes". Phytochemistry. 71 (17-18): 2058–2073. PMID 21040939. doi:10.1016/j.phytochem.2010.10.001. Retrieved 28 May 2015. 
  14. 14.0 14.1 J.E. Joy; S. J. Watson, Jr.; J.A. Benson, Jr (1999). Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing The Science Base. Washington D.C: National Academy of Sciences Press. ISBN 0-585-05800-8. 
  15. Tom Flowers, Marijuana flower forcing, Quick American Archives, 1997, p.48
  16. George Nakamura, FORENSIC IDENTIFICATION OF MARIJUANA: SOME QUESTIONS AND ANSWERES, Journal of Police Science and Administration, 1973, p.102-112
  17. Russo, EB (August 2007). "History of cannabis and its preparations in saga, science, and sobriquet.". Chemistry & Biodiversity. 4 (8): 1614–48. PMID 17712811. doi:10.1002/cbdv.200790144. Retrieved 30 May 2015. 
  18. Van Bakel, H.; Stout, J. M.; Cote, A. G.; Tallon, C. M.; Sharpe, A. G.; Hughes, T. R.; Page, J. E. (2011). "The draft genome and transcriptome of Cannabis sativa". Genome Biology. 12 (10): R102. PMC 3359589Freely accessible. PMID 22014239. doi:10.1186/gb-2011-12-10-r102. 

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