Weed 101: What Are Sativa Strains and Which Are the Best to Try?


If you’re looking for a strain of cannabis to try that will give you an energetic, uplifting high, your best bet is to start with strains that are classified as sativas. Although grouping strains of weed into the groups indica, sativa, and hybrid isn’t completely based on science — ultimately creating some disagreements regarding what’s a sativa or how much of a strain displays sativa characteristics — it does give consumers a starting point to learn about and discuss the different strains available and their varying effects.

So, if you have things to do and don’t like feeling super-glued to the couch for six hours, then you’re likely someone who’ll benefit from the mental and physical energy of sativas. Their often citrusy, fruity, earthy terpene profiles will send you on a journey of super-charged efficiency if you channel the high right, which can lead to seriously creative outcomes. Care to know more? Then read on.

What Exactly Are Sativa Strains?

In a nutshell, sativa strains of weed are cultivated from cannabis plants that grow in a tall, conical shape and have leaves with long, narrow leaflets. The effects of sativas are said to be more awake, creative, and clear-headed than other strains of pot. 

In contrast, indica strains are cultivated from cannabis plants that have leaves with shorter, broader leaflets and grow in a more compact and bushy shape. The high you get from indicas is said to be a more sedentary, whole-body buzz that can sometimes lead to couch-lock — thus, the joke “indacouch.” 

Hybrids, which account for the majority of all commercial strains on the market, combine the effects of indicas and sativa strains in varying proportions. In a dispensary, you’ll find indica hybrids that are heavier in sedating effects; sativa hybrids that lean more toward heightened energy; and 50-50 hybrids that are a blend of both. 


Some Popular Sativa Strains

Over the years, many sativa-dominant strains have risen the ranks of becoming some of the best strains in the world. Although they tend to grow taller, yield less, and take longer to flower, their popularity with smokers has led many cultivators to grow and breed many top-shelf sativas. In no particular order, here are several you’re likely to find at a cannabis dispensary.

Blue Dream: Blue Dream is a favorite with growers because of its high yields while consumers appreciate the fruity flavors and clear, energetic (yet relaxing) high. Blue Dream is a cross of Blueberry and Haze that produces large, productive plants that mature after about 10 weeks of flowering time. Blue Dream’s genetics are about 60 percent sativa and 40 percent indica. THC levels range from 16-20 percent. 


Jack Herer photo via Weedmaps

Jack Herer: Named after the legendary cannabis activist, Jack Herer is a strain that is just barely sativa-dominant, coming in at about 55 percent sativa and 45 percent indica. A cross of Haze, Northern Lights #5, and Shiva Skunk, Jack Herer was originally bred by Sensi Seeds. Although the existence of a few different phenotypes available on the market cause some variation in effect and flavor, Jack Herer generally gives the uplifting, euphoric high that sativa strains are known for. THC levels average in the range of 15-19 percent.

Strawberry Cough: Strawberry Cough boasts 80 percent sativa genetics that give the strain an energizing head high. Buds can have a slightly reddish hue when grown in a cool climate and exude the aroma and flavor of fresh strawberries. Plus, who could forget the scene in Children of Men when Michael Cain’s character shares his homegrown Strawberry Cough? The strain has a flowering time of about 9 weeks and produces buds with THC coming in at 16-20 percent. 

Sour Diesel: Another strain with strong sativa genetics of about 80 percent, Sour Diesel produces pungent buds ripe with the gassy aroma of fuel. With THC levels approaching 20 percent or higher on average, Sour Diesel is an immensely popular strain that is believed to be a cross of Chemdog 91 and Super Skunk. Flowering time for this sativa with wide commercial availability ranges from nine to 10 weeks. 

Trainwreck: This strain of Mexican, Afghani, and Thai genetics packs a punch with strong sativa dominance of about 80 percent to 20 percent indica. The strong aromas of spice, citrus, and pine offer a buzz that’s lively and active. Large, relatively bushy plants finish flowering in 10 to 12 weeks. 


Green Crack photo via Leafly

Green Crack: Green Crack is a sativa strain with THC levels as high as 20 percent (and often higher), which is notorious for a strong and uplifting, clear-headed high that can stimulate concentration and creativity. Productive, conical plants produce flowers with fruity hints of mango and pineapple as quickly as 55 days. Green Crack is approximately 60 percent sativa and 40 percent indica.

Durban Poison: Durban Poison is a nearly pure sativa landrace strain from South Africa. The rounded flowers of this varietal have a sweet and spicy smell and large, frosty trichomes that can deliver up to 25 percent THC. The cerebral high of Durban Poison fosters focus and creativity, making it a popular choice for daytime use.

If you’d like to smoke some weed and get shit done instead of gluing yourself to the couch for a Netflix binge, pick up a sativa strain or two the next time you visit your plug or favorite dispensary. Or, better yet, peruse your favorite cannabis seed bank and pick up some beans and grow your own stash. Just be sure you have plenty of room — sativas like to grow big and tall!

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