Marijuana Strains

What are the Cannabineae Families and their Characteristics

Hey there and welcome (back) to Free The Tree!
In today’s article we decided to cover the different strains of marijuana that exist, their characteristics and differences in high.
Hopefully you’ll find the answer you need and/or it helps you out choosing your own seed 😉

Here’s what we’re going to cover:

Let’s get into it!

Weed Strains

Technically and legally all weed strains, whether it’s hemp rope or nice fluffy bud, is Classified as Cannabis Sativa under international law.

That said, Dr McParland, Clarke and Watson show in their book Hemp Diseases and Pests that Cannabis Sativa can be classified into more detailed groups, Cannabis Sativa, Indica, Ruderalis (var spondanea) and Afghanica.
This can be shown through distinct growth patterns, looks, smell, taste, Cannabinoid compounds, etc

size and bushiness of Sativa, indica and ruderalis strains

Marijuana Sativa

Sativa strains are our personal favorite for their energetic high, although they do have 2 big disadvantages for indoor growing, their height and length of the flowering stage.
Here’s what we’re going to cover in this section:

Origin of Sativa Strains

Cannabis Sativa’s first signs originated predominately in Asia, after which it spread throughout Africa and the Americas. Through time, each area has developed specific characteristics but they still all share common traits.

If you want to know more on the history of marijuana check our our full article over here

Shared Characteristics of Sativa Strains

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 Characteristic Sativa
NodesSpacious inter-nodal length
Root systemLarge and sprawling, Sativa’s need root to spread their root system
Leaf shapeLarge narrow-bladed
Length of the
Flowering Stage
Long flowering stage, they can take from a couple weeks to months longer that Indica Strains.

Generally average between 90 to 120 days.

Plant SizeSativa’s are known to grow tall, whether indoor or outdoors.
A good outdoor producer can easily get 15 foot (4.5m) plants or more.

Indoors, a pure Sativa strain can be dangerous since they grow so tall, don’t under-estimate this and remember they can grow up to 200% during the stretch!

THC/CBD Potency Whether it’s a Mexican, Columbian or Central African Sativa Plant the THC/CBD ratio is very high at harvest.
The issue is with transport, if the buds are mistreated the THC degradation happens much faster thus reducing the levels.
Asian Sativa’sAsian Sativa Strains, including That, Vietnamese, Cambodian or Nepalese have very diverse growth characteristics and THC/CBD levels.
That said, some Thai strains are some of the most potent in the world but also within the slowest to mature.
High EffectsSince Sativa’s generally are very potent in THC the psychoactive effects will be strong, producing a soaring, energetic, giggly “speedy” high.
Flower distributionSomewhat sparse when growing indoors


Technically all Hemp strains are considered as Cannabis Sativa although it’s grown for its high quality Fibers.
Hemp is generally seeded and contains very low levels of THC and CBD.

Cannabis Indica

Indica Strains can be much more adapted for indoor growers since their growth isn’t as extreme as Sativa’s, the length of the flowering stage in much shorter.
These two factors are counter-balanced by a lower level of THC and higher levels of CBD, which can induce a very strong couch potato high. This is a positive or negative point, depending on what you like.

Here’s what we’re going to cover:

Origin of Indica Strains

Cannabis Indica originated in Pakistan and India and is generally prized by indoor growers and breeders for its small, bushy and dense growth.

Characteristics of Indica Strains

Just as Sativa’s, all indica strains share common traits

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Nodes and flowersClose nodes and stout stems.
Generally smaller pistils, can turn reddish in some strains

FoliageDark Green. Some strains the foliage will turn reddish/purplish
Root systemCondensed root system
Leaf shapeBroad, wide leaves.
Some strains can have narrower leaves
Length of the
Flowering Stage
Shorter flowering period, generally ranging between 45 to 90 days.
Plant SizeIndica strains are known to be much smaller plants than Sativa’s, much more adapted for indoor growers
Mold and Pest ResistanceHeavily resin-laden plants (like indicas) tend to be the most fungus and pest resistant.
Few Indicas with heavy, dense and compact buds are known to be resistant to gray (bud) mold.
THC/CBD Potency Indica’s generally have a higher CBD to THC ratio which can often induce a “couch potato” high.
SmellThe odor of Indica’s varies strongly from a skunk type smell to sweet and exotic.
High EffectsThe higher levels of CBD will induce a incapacitating “sit on your head” or “couch potato” high.

Hybrid Strains

Hybrid strains on at least F1 Generation strains where growers have crossed 2 strains in order to get a new strain containing characteristics from both parents.

There are hundreds, maybe thousands of hybrid strains, that enable you to grow a strain that has both Sativa and Indica characteristics.
Soon enough you’ll be able to compare them all on Free the Tree! 🙂
(click on the little bell on the bottom left if you want to be notified when it comes out!)

Cannabis Ruderalis

Cannabis Ruderalis isn’t one you’re going to want to grow at home, although it did help breeders to reduce lengths of flowering of other strains.

Here’s what we’re going to cover:

Origin of Ruderalis strains

Cannabis Ruderalis (= C. sativa var. spondanea) was first brought to Amsterdam (Netherlands) in the 1980s by the Seed bank to enhance their breeding program.
This strain is also very similar, if not identical to the “ruderalis” plants that grow from Minnesota (USA) to Manitoba and Saskatchewan (Canada).

Characteristics of Ruderalis Strains

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Plant SizeShort, weedy, scrubby plants
Nodes and flowersClose nodes and stout stems.
Generally smaller pistils, can turn reddish in some strains
Length of the
Flowering Stage
Short, photoperiod does not start the flowering cycle (cf “what’s special about C. Ruderalis)
THC/CBD PotencyVery very low levels of THC and CBD
What’s special about C. RuderalisRuderalis does not depend of Photo-periods to go from the Vegetative to Flowering Stage. So, naturally, after a couple weeks within the vegetative stage it starts to enter the flowering stage, no matter how long the days are.

This strain is what enabled breeders to let sativa’s or indica’s bloom earlier, as well as develop auto-flowering strains.

High EffectsSometimes confused with more potent indicas, pure C. Ruderalis is True ditch weed.
It’ll give you a headache more than a high

Cannabis Afghanica


Origin of Afghanica strains

Cannabis afghanica (= C. sativa var. afghanica) comes from modern day Afghanistan.
Many growers and breeders don’t distinguish Cannabis Afghanica and Indica strains, lumping them both as Indica. That said there are some specific traits to C. Afghanica

Characteristics of Afghanica Strains

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Plant SizeShort plants.
Nodes and LeavesDense branching and short inter-nodal spacing.

Distinctive wide and dark green leaflets and leaves.

Length of the
Flowering Stage
As Indica strains the flowering period ranges between 90 to 120 days.
Afghane strains generally have leaf stems.

Produces large amounts of resin.

THC/CBD PotencyHigh Cannabinoid content, its resin is generally used to make the famous Afghani Hash.
High EffectsAfghani Strains have a good balance between the Happy High and a unwanted smack upside the head.
Hash made from these plants is high quality.

Alright folks that’s it for this one,
Until next time, be safe and grow easy

Couple words about the grower

This article was written by Plant Lover, Free the Tree's founder and a passionate grower of Cannabis, as well as all other plants.
Mostly from the city, I work on my computer all day so about 4 years ago, on my off time, I started growing to have some more green in my life.

I never imagined I would fall in love with botany and discover so much about this plant. Since then I keep learning everyday, meeting new awesome people of our community and grow constantly

You can always get in touch with me on our Instagram!

Looking for growing tips? Check out the articles shared by growers

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