Cannabis Indica L. is generally agreed to have originated on the Asian subcontinent or possibly Afghanistan. Lamarck, the first European botanist to classify this type, received his samples from India and dubbed the plant Cannabis Indica in recognition of that fact.
General Physical Appearance of Indica Strains
The typical example of Cannabis Indica is a more compact, thick-stemmed bush than its cousins, usually reaching a height of less than two metres. The foliage is generally a dark shade of green, some examples appearing to have almost blue or green-black leaves. These leaves are composed of short, wide blades.
Indica strains tend to produce more side-branches and denser growth than Sativas, resulting in wider, bushier plants. Indica flowers form in thick clusters around the nodes of the female plant (the points at which pairs of leaves grow from the stem and branches). They usually weigh more than Sativa flowers of similar size, as they are denser.
Growth and Flowering Cycle of Cannabis Indica
The life cycle of Cannabis Indica is divided into two distinct phases - growing and flowering – which are reactions to different day-lengths (photoperiods).
Growing occurs when the plant experiences long days and short nights, known as the long photoperiod. When growing, Cannabis Indica devotes its energy to increasing in size and stature. As days become shorter and nights longer (the short photoperiod), the plant receives the signal that winter is approaching and its flowering phase is triggered.
In the flowering phase, upward and outward growth slows or stops as Cannabis Indica directs the bulk of its energy to growing reproductive parts - male flowers which distribute pollen or female flowers which produce the majority of cannabinoids and are meant to receive pollen and produce seeds. If male plants are eliminated early in the flowering phase, female plants are prevented from making seeds and their cannabinoid-rich flowers (also referred to as buds, tops or heads) may be harvested for medicinal and recreational use.
Indica strains require both a growing and a flowering period in order to reach their full size.
Common Effects and Properties of Indica Strains
Most Indicas are a rich source of the cannabinoids THC, CBD and CBN. While Cannabis Sativa often produces a higher proportion of THC compared to its other cannabinoids, Cannabis Indica often contains significant levels of all three. Indicas tend to produce more body-centred effects than Sativas - enhancement of physical sensations, relaxation, dry mouth, red eyes. These effects are often grouped together under the term 'stoned', as opposed to the 'high' imparted by Sativas. This is not to say that Indicas have no psychoactive effect, just that they also have noticeable effects on the body.
Cannabis Indica strains are cultivated almost exclusively for their medicinal and psychoactive properties, and may be the most commonly used medicinal marijuana strains. Lamarck, when classifying this type, commented that Cannabis Indica's "firm stem and thin bark make it incapable of furnishing similar fibres to the preceding species (Cannabis Sativa L.) of which so much use is made."