Updated on November 13, 2023
8 min read

How Many Different Weed Strains Are There?

Weed, also known as cannabis, marijuana, or pot, has been cultivated for medicinal and recreational uses. Its different purposes have led to countless weed strains made by the cannabis industry. These cannabis products can vary in flavor, aroma, and effects.

What Is a Weed Strain?

A weed strain refers to a specific variety of the cannabis plant possessing a unique combination of characteristics.

The various characteristics considered in categorizing weed strains include:1,2

1. Appearance

Weed strains can vary in the following:

  • Plant structure
  • Leaf morphology
  • Overall appearance, including size, color, and bud formation

2. Cannabinoid Profile

Each strain has a distinctive composition of cannabinoids, most notably THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). These cannabinoids influence the strain's medicinal and psychoactive effects.

3. Terpene Profile

Aside from cannabinoids, cannabis contains over a hundred other chemical compounds called terpenes. These aromatic compounds contribute to the distinct flavor, aroma, and even potential medicinal properties of cannabis.3

4. Effects

These are perhaps a weed strain’s most crucial aspect. Physiological effects can range from relaxation and euphoria to creativity and focus, depending on the strain's unique chemical composition.

What Are the Main Categories of Weed Strains?

The three main categories of cannabis are:2,3

1. Cannabis sativa

Sativa strains often have the following characteristics:2,3

  • Higher THC and lower CBD content
  • Can grow to 5 to 18 feet tall
  • Slender leaves
  • Few branches

Such chemical makeup results in sativa’s euphoric and intoxicating effects. 

2. Cannabis indica 

These cannabis plants are usually shorter (2 to 4 feet tall) and bushier than sativa variants. They typically have higher THC levels.  

Indicas are known for their relaxing and sedative effects. People favor them for their potential therapeutic benefits, including pain relief, nausea, and relaxation.2,3

3. Cannabis ruderalis

These strains have lower THC and CBD levels than sativa and indica strains. They are less common and are primarily known for their auto-flowering properties. They flower as a result of age, not light conditions. 

Because of their auto-flowering properties, people often use ruderalis strains to crossbreed and create hybrid cannabis variants.2,3


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Categorizing Weed

People often describe cannabis strains as pure sativa, pure indica, or hybrid. While this is the most common categorization, it is not always the case.4

Only some strains are either pure sativa or indica. Here are a few examples of different cannabis strains based on this classification:2 

Afghan Kush, Green Kush, Hindu Kush, Purple KushPure indica
Golden Jamaican Kush, Blueberry KushHybrid indica
Diesel Haze, Durban PoisonPure or hybrid sativa

The ability to make “cultivars” selectively bred for maximum quality or specific effects further increased the number of cannabis strains. 

The general properties of the main types also don’t always hold due to the diverse composition of cannabinoids and terpenes among weed strains. For instance, some people may experience mellowing instead of energizing effects when consuming sativa. 

How Many Types of Weed Strains Exist?

It’s challenging to provide an exact count of weed strains existing nowadays. Different sources cite 700 to up to 2,000 strains. Moreover, new strains are emerging regularly.1,2,3 

What Are 50/50 Strains of Weed?

While sativa and indica strains are predominantly one or the other, there are also "50/50" strains. These weed strains are hybrids with an equal balance of sativa and indica genetics. 

Some popular hybrid 50/50 strains include:5

  • Blue Dream
  • Pineapple Express
  • Wedding Cake

What Are Kush Strains?

Although the term “Kush” is sometimes equated with cannabis, only a few strains are considered a true Kush.

Kush strains have the following characteristics:2,6

  • Typically originated from the Kush mountain region, spanning Afghanistan, Pakistan, and parts of India
  • Tend to be pure or hybrid indicas rather than sativas
  • Have resinous buds
  • Have earthy and piney aromas
  • Have heavy sedative effects

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How Are Weed Strains Named?

Some rules exist for naming each strain.1 However, many manufacturers and dispensaries do not name their products according to these rules. 

The arbitrariness can create a confusing way of generating weed strains' local and street names. Moreover, the same strain can often go by different names, further adding to the confusion.

Here are some common naming conventions for weed strains:1,2,3

Geographical Origin

Some weed strains have names after their place of origin, such as: 

  • Acapulco Gold
  • Panama Red
  • Afghan Kush

Aroma, Flavor & Appearance

Strains with distinct aromas, flavors, or colors are often named accordingly. Super Lemon Haze is known for its citrusy scent. Sour Diesel is known for its diesel-like aroma. 

Other famous examples include: 

  • Pineapple Express
  • Granddaddy Purple
  • Green Crack

Hybrid Names

Hybrid strains often have names that reflect their lineage. For example, Blue Widow is from White Widow and Blue Dream.

Other Qualities

The name of Durban Poison combined the strain’s geographic origin (Durban in South Africa) and taste (poison synonymous with bitterness). 

Other strains became famous for their psychoactive properties, like the weed strain called Amnesia. 

Some are even named after creatures (like Godzilla), natural phenomena (like the Northern Lights), and movies (like LA Confidential). 


The late cannabis activist Jack Herer has a popular weed strain named after him.

How Do Different Weed Strains Affect Users?

The effects of weed strains vary widely, making certain strains more suitable for specific activities or medical conditions. 

Sativa Strains for Energizing Effects

People often choose pure sativa or sativa-dominant strains for daytime use due to their uplifting and energizing effects. They can enhance the following:

  • Creativity
  • Focus
  • Sociability

Such qualities make them a hit with artists, musicians, and those looking to remain productive.

Indica Strains for Relaxing Effects

People value pure indica or indica-dominant strains for their soothing properties. They’re commonly used in the evening or before bedtime to:

  • Unwind
  • Alleviate stress
  • Promote sleep

People seeking pain and anxiety relief also prefer indicas.

Hybrid Strains & Other Considerations

Hybrid strains balance sativa and indica effects, making them versatile and suitable for various situations. 

Generally, people with certain conditions like epilepsy may favor relatively non-psychoactive strains that are low in THC or high in CBD.3 

Hybrid strains with high THC and low CBD are preferred for migraine, headaches, and pain.7

Some experiencing headaches and migraines favor strains with the predominant terpenes β-caryophyllene and β-myrcene.7

Common Weed Strains for Certain Conditions

Certain studies have listed down these common strains and the conditions they alleviate:3,7

  • Depression and anxiety: Island Sweet Skunk, Jack Herer, White Widow
  • Migraine: OG Shark
  • Pain: Blue Dream, Mother of Berries, OG Shark
  • PTSD: Blue Dream, MediBud
  • Sleep disorder or insomnia: Lemon Sour Diesel, Mother of Berries, OG Shark, Skywalker

Note that these examples of preferred cannabis strains come from user perceptions rather than clinical trials and scientific evidence. Moreover, two people may have different experiences with various strains.7

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What Is the Best Weed Strain in 2023?

Determining the "best" weed strain in 2023 is subjective. What is considered the best strain for one person may differ for another. However, several highly regarded strains have remained popular for their exceptional characteristics. 

Some of the most popular marijuana strains include Sour Diesel, Jack Herer, Durban Poison, and Blue Dream.

Sour Diesel

Sour Diesel is a hybrid strain of sativa and indica. It’s known for its euphoric effects and named for its diesel smell.8

Jack Herer

This particular strain is bred and named after the late marijuana activist Jack Herer. It’s a sativa-dominant strain with a relatively high THC percentage. People report relief from anxiety disorders and fibromyalgia after using this strain.8,9

Purple Haze

Purple Haze is a sativa-dominant strain known for its intense euphoric effect. It has a distinctly sweet and earthy scent, with some blueberry and spicy notes.8

Durban Poison

This strain originated from Durban, South Africa. It is a pure sativa strain and has a relatively high THC level.2,8,10

Super Silver Haze

Super Silver Haze is a sativa-dominant strain with a relatively low THC level.8

Blue Dream

One of the most popular strains known for its balanced effects, Blue Dream is a sativa-dominant strain used for both recreational and medical purposes.8,9

Purple Kush

Purple Kush is a pure indica strain known for its grape flavor and violet color. People with chronic pain and depression report relief from using this strain.6,9

Strawberry Cough

Strawberry Cough is a sativa-dominant strain with relatively high THC. It’s known for its energizing effect and strawberry scent. It’s sometimes harsh on the exhale, hence the name.8


People broadly categorized weed or cannabis into indica, sativa, or hybrid. But weed has a diverse array of strains beyond these major categories. Each cannabis strain varies in appearance, cannabinoid profiles, terpene profiles, flavors, aromas, and effects. 

The number of weed strains today ranges from 700 to 2,000, with new strains emerging frequently. With such vast numbers, naming them is complex. Common naming conventions include the area of origin, aroma, flavor, and lineage. 

The different weed strains also have diverse effects on people. Some strains are favored for specific conditions, like pain relief, insomnia, anxiety, and migraines, although experiences vary.

The use of cannabis, particularly for medicinal purposes, should be discussed first with a qualified healthcare professional. While weed is popularly used for medicinal and recreational purposes, misuse can still incur adverse effects.

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Updated on November 13, 2023
10 sources cited
Updated on November 13, 2023

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