Everything You Need to Know About Cannabis Sativa

In this guide, we will help you understand all you need to know about sativa strains of marijuana. Read on for a cannabis sativa overview in which we explain sativa characteristics and how sativa strains affect the body.

If you live in a state in which recreational and/or medical marijuana is legal and take a trip to your local marijuana dispensary, you’ll quickly notice there are many different types of marijuana strains available. With so much choice, it can be overwhelming and seemingly impossible to even know where to start.

When trying to determine which marijuana strain is ideal for you and your needs, it’s best to first understand that there are generally three different types of marijuana classifications: sativa, indica, and hybrids of the two.

Cannabis plants have been crossbred for years to produce what is now a wide array of hybrid strains. Sativa and indica strains each offer their own distinct characteristics and cannabinoid profiles, and hybrids feature a blend of the characteristics of both sativa and indica strains. When shopping for a strain, you’ll find that marijuana flower is typically labeled as sativa or indica, depending on which strain’s characteristics are most dominant.

Here we take a look at cannabis sativa strains and discuss the typical sativa characteristics and the origins of sativa strains. We will also explain the types of effects sativas typically produce.

Interested in learning more about indica strains? Then take a look at our comprehensive guide about all things cannabis indica.

What is Cannabis Sativa?

Cannabis sativa is a species of the Cannabaceae family that includes both marijuana and hemp varieties. Sativa strains tend to thrive in warmer weather, with most strains originating in countries located near the equator, such as Colombia, Mexico, Thailand, and Southeast Asia.

Cultivated throughout recorded history, cannabis sativa is harvested for its fiber, seeds, and oil, which have been historically used for industrial, nutritional, and medicinal purposes. Today, sativa cannabis strains still grow wild throughout many humid and tropical areas of the world.

Sativa strains are known for being extremely pungent due to a distinct terpene profile that produces aromas that can range from fruity, citrus, and sweet to earthy, piney, and peppery.

Differences Between Sativa and Indica

While weed strains can feature a mix of sativa and indica genetics, there are several distinct differences between indica and sativa strains that are helpful to understand as you select one that’s right for you.

Reaching heights of up to 20 feet when grown outside, sativa plants are taller than indica plants. The branches of a cannabis sativa plant tend to spread out and grow upwards, while their palmately-arranged leaves are usually long and narrow. Unlike in indica strains where the plant’s flowers cluster around the nodes, in sativa, the flowers begin at its nodes and expand along the length of the stem.

sativa vs indica chart

Sativa plants have much longer vegetation periods than indica strains, taking anywhere from 10 to 16 weeks to fully mature during the flowering period. While sativa strains require more patience from growers, their longer vegetation periods result in a much higher yield, producing around 3 ounces to 1 pound of usable marijuana flower for every plant.

While cannabinoid profiles can vary significantly by strain, sativas generally contain a higher concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) when compared to indica strains. THC is the psychoactive compound that causes euphoric effects and intoxication. Cannabis sativa also has a lower concentration of the non-psychoactive compound cannabidiol (CBD) than indica strains. What’s more, sativa plants naturally feature more tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), a compound with a similar molecular makeup as THC. Scientists have not yet determined if THCV produces psychoactive properties.

indica vs sativa

What are the Effects of Cannabis Sativa?

The cannabinoid profile of cannabis sativa is known for eliciting stimulating mental effects that tend to help users feel more focused and motivated. Some have even gone so far as to call the euphoric response produced by sativa a “cerebral” response, as sativa is also said to encourage deep conversation and enhance creativity. The stimulating nature of cannabis sativa makes it a strain that is most suited for daytime use, social situations, or for artistic endeavors.

Most users of cannabis sativa report some combination of the following effects:

  • Uplifting – Users feel their mood elevated, resulting in feelings of happiness and hope.
  • Creativity – Using sativa often results in individuals embarking on a creative endeavor, as the strain enhances creativity.
  • Energetic – Many feel a boost of energy after using sativa. This can result in an urge to go out and socialize.
  • Focusing – Some feel that they have a laser-like focus after using sativa, helping them better focus on the task at hand.

Inspiring – Cannabis sativa has been known to inspire users, providing them with motivation.

difference between sativa vs indica

What Are the Potential Uses for Cannabis Sativa?

The uplifting properties of sativa strains of medical marijuana mean that it is often used by patients dealing with mental challenges and mood issues.

Cannabis sativa strains with a higher concentration of THCV may also be beneficial for promoting healthy appetite and eating habits to naturally encourage a healthier body composition.

Finally, sativa is sometimes used to manage discomfort and help those dealing with tension to find some relief and live a normal, happy life.

Popular Sativa Strains

While there are hundreds of sativa strains available today, below are a few of the most popular sativa strains currently on the market. You can also find hybrids that feature both indica and sativa characteristics like the popular sativa dominant hybrid strain Blue Dream.

Amnesia Haze

Amnesia Haze is a sativa strain that features up to 25 percent THC. It is mainly known for producing long-lasting body-relaxing and clear-headed effects that are beneficial for dealing with mood problems and tension. Amnesia Haze is also a favorite of personal growers because it produces one of the greatest flower yields of all sativa strains.

Sour Diesel

Commonly referred to as “Sour D,” the Sour Diesel sativa strain offers about 19 percent THC and provides users with an invigorating, yet dreamy cerebral effect. It’s also a popular choice among medical marijuana patients attempting to manage uneasiness, discomfort, and mood challenges.

Strawberry Cough

Named after its pungent strawberry scent and tendency to make the consumer cough, Strawberry Cough is a potent sativa blend containing 24 to 26 percent THC. Typically used by those more experienced with medical marijuana, Strawberry Cough is known to offer uplifting, euphoric effects that are beneficial for managing tension and uneasiness.

Jake Herer

Jack Herer is a sativa strain that features somewhere between 17 and 18 percent THC. The strain gets its name from the man Jack Herer, who is a marijuana activist and author of the famed book The Emperor Wears No Clothes. Jack Herer is a spicy strain that smells like pine and causes users to feel an overwhelming feeling of bliss, giving them a clear head that is ready to tackle a creative project.


Tangie, also known as Tangerine Dream or Tangie Dream, is 17 percent THC and one of the most popular sativa strains currently available. Tangie gets its name from the delightful tangerine aroma and provides users with a perfect mix of euphoria and relaxation.

Super Lemon Haze

Super Lemon Haze is an energizing sativa strain that is 18 percent THC. A sativa-dominant hybrid, Super Lemon Haze (also known as SLH) smells and tastes tart and sweet, just like a lemon. Users can expect to feel a jolt of energy after use, making it perfect for consumption before a night out or at the beginning of an adventure.

Maui Wowie

Maui Wowie is a cannabis sativa classic, spreading from the sun-drenched beaches of Hawaii to marijuana dispensaries around the globe. Maui Wowie features sweet pineapple flavors and 18 percent THC. Users can expect to feel motivated, creative, and perhaps even an urge to experience the great outdoors.

sativa for anxiety

Learn More about Cannabis Sativa and Marijuana

Are you looking to learn more about how to legally access marijuana or interested in learning how to grow your own marijuana plants at home? You’ll find everything you need to know and more about marijuana by visiting our Cannabis 101 page.