There are hundreds of different weed strains available and everyone has their favorites. All these strains we love to smoke are actually hybrid strains containing different percentages of the 3 main different types of weed strains called indica, sativa and ruderalis.
Only indica and sativa produce buds good for smoking. Ruderalis has very low levels of THC and CBD and is only used for breeding other hybrid strains.
Effects of smoking the different types of weed strains
Sativa strains give an uplifting and energetic high that you feel in the head more than your entire body. They are also less likely to make you feel anxious when smoked. This is because sativa strains have a higher amount of CBD vs THC.
Indica strains have a sedating and relaxing effect on the the whole body. Because of this sedating effect, indica strains are great for pain relief and treating insomnia. There is a higher chance you might feel anxiety or paranoia when smoking indica buds.
This is a nice little infographic video showing the differences between the sativa and indica strains.
Appearance and origin of the different types of weed strains
- The sativa strain originated in Pakistan, India and Afghanistan and is often considered the oldest ‘original’ strain. However, weed has grown wild for thousands of years so there are actually many different original strains.
- The leaves are long and thin and they grow tall, making them ideal for growing outdoors.
- Sativa strains generally produce smaller yields than indica strains.
- The indica strain originated in Asia and Northern Africa.
- The leaves are bushier and the plants are shorter, making them great for growing indoors.
- Indica strains generally produce bigger yields than sativa strains.
- The ruderalis strain originated in the harsh climates of Russia and Siberia which makes the plants hardy.
- The leaves are big with thin stems and the plants grow very short.
- Ruderalis has much lower concentrations of THC and CBD than sativa and indica which makes it terrible for smoking.
Although ruderalis isn’t good for smoking, it has characteristics that are great for breeding hybrids with other strains:
- Ruderalis is resistant to insects and some diseases because it evolved in a harsh environment.
- It’s autoflowering, which means the flowering stage happens when the plant reaches a certain age and isn’t dependent on changing the amount of light and dark the plants receive.
- Hybrid strains used for medical marijuana often include ruderalis because the autoflowering trait makes them reliable and easy to grow. However, strains containing ruderalis can taste terrible.
Hybrid weed strains
Hybrid strains occur in nature but breeders also create hybrids that have particular characteristics such as:
- The ability to grow well in a hot or cold climate
- A shorter plant that produces big yields good for growing indoors
- A more pleasant taste when smoked
- Tweak the type of high the weed produces (sativa and indica strains have very different effects when smoked)
- Faster growing and and autoflowering (see below for an explanation of this)
Hybrid strains are created by growing male and female plants from different strains together and allowing them to cross pollinate. The seeds from the female plants are then collected and regrown. This process is repeated multiple times and the child plants soon start to develop combined traits of the different parents. Expert breeders skillfully combine different strains to create the type of weed they’re after.
Read our article to learn more about the difference between male and female weed plants.
Autoflowering weed strains
Autoflowering weed strains flower automatically when the plant reaches a certain age. This is different to sativa and indica strains which rely on the changing ratio of light and dark the receive to trigger the flowering stage. Ruderalis is an autoflowering strain which makes it perfect for creating autoflowering sativa and indica hybrid that have other desirable ruderalis traits:
- Autoflowering strains can be grown and harvested outside all year and are also easy to grow indoors
- They are small which is good for stealth or small grow areas
- They are naturally hardy plants and are resistant to insects
Some people argue that autoflowering strains don’t produce the same quality of weed as regular strains but they are quickly getting more popular with growers. Ruderalis hybrids with sativa and indica have been bred that flower automatically and mature in less than 3 months.
Wiki has more good information on autoflowering weed if you’re interested in learning more.