Cannabis Indica

The Cannabis Indica plant, also known as Indian hemp, comes from the hemp genus (Cannabis) and belongs to the hemp family. It is disputed whether Indica is a different type of hemp or whether it is a subspecies of ordinary hemp (Cannabis Sativa). The article treats Indica as a separate subspecies.

Cannabis Species

There are countless different cannabis varieties worldwide, which differ in their properties in terms of growth habit, taste, yield, and effect. Nevertheless, they all belong to the Cannabaceae family, and you can assign them to one of the three main genera:

These varieties have origins in different climate zones; one can observe differences in appearance, flowering system, growth, habitat, taste, and effect.

However, you rarely find pure strains as breeders attempt to fuse the best traits of each species into new strains known as hybrid cannabis.

Indica subspecies

Some researchers see the following four subspecies in Cannabis Indica, each with different uses.

  • Cannabis indica subsp. chinensis
  • Cannabis indica subsp. indica
  • Cannabis indica subsp. kafiristanica
  • Cannabis indica subsp. Afghanica

Cannabis indica subsp. chinensis
One uses it for fiber and oil production. The growing areas are China, Korea, Japan, and parts of Southeast Asia.

Cannabis indica subsp. indica
One produces drugs from this species; they used to be cultivated in South and Southeast Asia, but today it is grown worldwide.

Cannabis indica subsp. kafiristanica
It mainly occurs wild or feral and is seen as a wild parent form. You will find it from Kashmir to Myanmar.

Cannabis indica subsp. Afghanica
One uses the Afghanica for hashish production and cultivates it in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Physical appearance

The plant is compact, has a stocky growth, and shows a strong branching of short branches. It appears in a dark green due to the high amount of chlorophyll. So-called nodes are produced on the stems, from which leaves, branches, and flowers are formed. One often finds the flowers (buds) of the plant in dense clusters that develop along the nodes on the stem and branches, typically leaving little space between these clusters (=internodes), which emit a very distinctive scent. The plant has an exceptional amount of resin, which extends to the adjacent leaves.

The Cannabis Indica usually grows to a height of 1.2 to 1.5 meters. Once the plant has reached its optimum size, it will direct its energy into growing dense, aromatic buds.


There are male and female flowers on different plants called dioecious; Indian hemp flowers yearling. The wind carries out the pollination of the plant, and the germination of the seeds takes place in the spring.

Cultivated, feral, and wild plants have similar conditions in terms of optimal growth. They prefer bare, well-loosened, sandy, loamy soils and moderate humidity.

The average flowering time for cannabis Indica is 6 to 8 weeks.


The cannabis plant Indica is cultivated as an oil and fiber plant in addition to drug production and for use in medicine. It has been valued for its healing, pain-relieving[1], and intoxicating effects.

As an intoxicant

The cannabis Indica strain has a more substantial sedative effect than cannabis Sativa, producing a more psychedelic and stimulating effect.

As medicine

Since the Indica has increased cannabidiol (CBD) content, one uses it preferably in diseases that require an anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic effect. It can have a pain-relieving effect (especially in chronic conditions). In some cases, this can reduce headaches and help with anxiety symptoms. One uses the plant often to treat insomnia. According to researcher R. Weiss, Indian hemp helps with severe pain caused by injured muscles and tendons.[2] The Indica strain is, therefore, often preferred by medical patients.

As food

Hemp seeds produced for human consumption are high in protein, carbohydrates, and fats. The high fiber content and various valuable vitamins and minerals are among the ingredients of hemp. The hemp oil is extracted from the hemp nut and is considered a nutritious food. The oil and nut contain more than 90% of polyunsaturated fatty acids.


Cannabis Indica strains tend to produce moderate tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) while maintaining comparatively high levels of CBD.

You mainly feel the effects of the Indica physically and then mentally. Typical characteristics of a cannabis Indica high are a reduction in stress and anxiety – generally calming and relaxing. The usual “couch look,” amplification of sensory impressions (especially taste intensification), and increased appetite are familiar effects of Indica consumption.

Typical effects of Cannabis Indica are summarized as follows:

  • It has a relaxing and relaxing effect
  • Relieves pain
  • Reduces anxiety and stress
  • Promotes sleep
  • Is appetizing


Due to climate adaptation, most Indica species probably come from Central and East Asia (desert and dry climate in the steppe), such as Afghanistan, India, Nepal, and Pakistan. Nowadays, it is difficult to tell whether the hemp plants growing wild there are formerly cultivated plants or natural wild plants of the Indica variety, possibly hybrid cannabis.

According to a Soviet botanist, the original homeland of Indian hemp is south of the great mountains consisting of the Hindu Kush, Pamir, and the Himalayas. You can find the first records in the west in 1785.

Differences between Indica and Sativa

There are no legal differences between the two types of cannabis, Indica, and Sativa. However, practice shows that the two differ significantly, whether in effect, physical appearance, or growth pattern. One can attribute the differences between these types of plants, in particular, to the fact that cannabis can adapt to many different environmental conditions.

Below are the key differences between the Cannabis Indica and Cannabis Sativa strains:


While the C. Indica strain most likely originates from Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Northern India, Nepal, etc.), C. Sativa comes from equatorial regions such as Thailand, Southern India, Mexico, and Jamaica.

Physical appearance

Indicas have dense, heavy, fragrant buds (flowers) and appear very compact and stocky as a plant. Sativa buds have a less distinctive odor and tend to be larger than indica buds, although they are often lighter when dried (due to their lower density).


A significant difference between the two species is the length of their flowering period: Indicas usually flower faster (around 45 to 60 days); Sativas, on the other hand, take between 60 and 90 days to finish flowering.


Although Indian hemp (Indica) grows relatively quickly in height, growth usually doesn’t get out of control. During flowering, the plant will increase by 50-100%. The Sativa variety, i.e., the standard hemp, has adapted so well to the environmental conditions of tropical regions (the days are usually short in the tropics) that it grows and flowers simultaneously. This species increases in height during the flowering period; in many cases, it increases by 200 to 300%, sometimes even more.


One often describes the Indica effect with the characteristic “stoned” feeling; this strain is mainly felt physically. It has a relaxing effect both physically and mentally, but in higher doses, it can make you sleepy. In addition, there may be an increase in sensory impressions (taste, smell, noise). You feel the typical “high” effect when consuming the Sativa: creativity, energy, and a psychedelic effect are significant.

Hybrid Cannabis

Breeding new, highly potent strains with unique genetics and the best possible traits are the goal of many cannabis growers. By selectively crossing several types of cannabis, one can bring the best properties together: we speak of so-called hybrids.

Although the three cannabis species Sativa, Indica, and Ruderalis, belong to different cannabis families, one can cross them with each other. Medicinal potential, high THC levels, and the ability to thrive in specific growing conditions are just a few of the traits sought.

It means that many strains now share traits from multiple families. As a result, you can find solid and potent hybrids that increase the effect or yields and show robustness and a lack of susceptibility to disease. The majority of cannabis strains on the market today are hybrids.



[1] Marguerite Louise Baur: Recherches sur l’histoire de l’anesthésie avant 1846. Leiden 1927, S. 220–223.

[2] Rudolf Fritz Weiss: Lehrbuch der Phytotherapie. 5. Aufl. Stuttgart 1982, S. 382 f.