Characteristics of Sativa Strain

Origins of Sativa cannabis strains

Cannabis cultivars coming from the tropical and sub­tropical areas of the planet – Africa, South and Central America and Asia – are normally called Sativa strains. These strains are then naturally found in countries like Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Jamaica (Central and South America), Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam (Southeast Asia), Malawi, South Africa, Kenya, Congo (Africa) and Nepal or India (South Asia), among others. Over time and generations, these Sativa varieties have developed specific traits that differentiate them from the others, either due to environmental conditions or breeding selections.

Cannabis Sativa was first classified by swedish botanist Carl Linneus in 1735.

Cannabis Sativa cultivation

 The main phenotypic features of these strains are the long internodal distance, tall size, large and thin leafs with very narrow leaflets and long flowering periods that may range from 10 to 20 weeks, what makes their cultivation difficult for unexperienced growers, especially in indoor growing spaces. Almost all commercial Sativa strains have been crossed with Indica genetics to control these features, especially flowering time and size. Before the development of the first hybrid strains, Westerners basically smoked tropical Sativas smuggled from Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, etc. They were highly appreciated for their “high”, an energizing and inspiring effect only found in this type of strains, which is perfect to smoke during the day while we perform our daily activities.

Over time, and thanks to the first travellers to Asian countries, seeds from Indica strainscoming from Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc. were brought to the West – along with new Sativa lines – thus enabling breeders to start developing the first hybrid varieties between their classic Sativas and the new Indicas brought from Asia. Basically, and since most Sativas were mainly grown outdoors, the first goal of many of these breeders was shortening the size and flowering period of their well­known Sativas, creating new strains more suitable for indoor cultures.

Although experienced growers grow them indoors using different techniques such as the SCROG (Screen of Green), LST (Low­Stress Training) or others, it is easier to grow them outdoors, where they can easily reach 4 meters in height when planted in the ground.

Obviously, wild cannabis strains are not adapted to artificial lights, so if we are growing pure Sativas, which have probably never been grown indoors, the best option is often doing it outdoors. The only serious handicap found in Sativa plants is their long flowering stage; when grown outdoors, some plants won’t be ready to be harvested before December, so depending on climate conditions their culture can be really hard. On the other hand, if we grow them indoors, they can take 10­20 weeks to complete their flowering cycle, increasing the risk of pests and diseases. It should be noted that, generally, Sativas are very resistant to molds but weak against insect attacks, especially spider mites.

Regarding the organoleptic features of Sativas, most connoisseurs claim that they are far away from those of Indica varieties. The range of flavours that Sativa plants show is wide, and some of them are highly appreciated by cannabis users. The most found and appreciated smells and tastes in Sativa plants are woody, citric, fresh, metallic, minty, aniseed,…

Effects of Sativa strains

 One of the main reasons why Sativas are the favourite strains of many growers is their stimulating and uplifting “high”. Sativas are, by far, the most psychedelic cannabis species. As we mentioned before, the “high” induced by Sativas is perfect for performing almost any kind of activities, far away from the “stoned” feeling often caused by Indicas. Sativas are perfect for socialization, artist creation, writing or reading, etc, usually inducing a happy and inspiring effect.

On the other hand, some strains or phenotypes may cause anxiety, tachicardia or paranoia in different grades. Medicinally, Sativas are often used to combat depression, eating disorders and many other medical conditions, while they are obviously not recommended to treat insomnia or anxiety.

Cannabis Sativa plants usually have much higher THC content than Indicas, what promotes their psychedelic effects.

Sativa landraces and hybrids

 Among the most legendary commercial Sativa strains we can find the Kalimist from Serious Seeds, Hawaiian Snow from GHS, Durban Poison from Dutch Passion and many more. It should be noted that, when speaking of pure Sativas, we are referring here to both purebreds and sativa hybrids. A Sativa landrace or purebred is a strain that has never been crossed with any other genetics, maintaining its genepool “pure”. For example, Cannabiogen’s Colombian Red or Malawi from Ace Seeds are pure Sativa landraces. On the other hand, a Sativa hybrid is a cross between two different Sativa purebreds, thus creating plants that show 100% Sativa traits from two different genetic lines. Zamaldelicia (Malawi x Zamal) or Golden Tiger (Malawi x Meao Thai) both from Ace Seeds are perfect examples of Sativa hybrids.

We hope this post helped you to better understand what is a Sativa plant, what are its main features and what type of flavours and effects you can expect from them.

Have a nice smoke!

Emily Lane