Seeing the flower can sometimes be the only evaluation option prior to purchase. It is important to know the visual cues to identify remarkable cannabis. Aspects of the flower to examine are: trichome content, color, structure, size and trim.
The abundance of trichomes on the flower is an indication of high quality cannabis. Tiny crystal-like resin glands covering the flower contain the flavor and aromatic components of cannabis as well the cannabinoids. The most common cannabinoids are THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (Cannabidiol). They can make the flower appear crystallized or “frosty” and glisten in the light.
Color is one of the most noticable traits of a healthy cannabis flower. The following colors are strong indicators of a high quality plant: Healthy, vibrant shades of color can range from green, purple and orange. An abundance of trichomes can make the flower look silver-grey to white. When pistils (hairs) are present on the flower they can range from a light yellow to a deep reddish hue. When combusted, high quality cannabis will burn a white grey ash. Vaporizing cannabis does not produce ash.
Size & Shape
Size and shape do not matter. Variety in size of the flower is a good sign. It is difficult to determine high quality purely from size, shape and density due to the characteristics of many different flower strains.
Trim of the Flower
What to look for: Tight trim. Proper trim removes extra leaf matter revealing the flower. The flower reveals the structure and integrity of the flower. Excess leaves may lead to a harsher taste. Unwanted leaf material and excess stem are removed. The only portion of stem that should be visible is at the base of the flower from where it was attached to the plant.
What to avoid: Over-trimmed flower. The flower has obvious cuts and slashes into the flower. The individual flowers have been cut and the trichomes have been broken and knocked off (kiefed) resulting in less trichomes and less of the psychoactive and/or therapeutic content. The individual flowers have been cut and the trichomes have been broken and knocked off (kiefed) resulting in less trichomes and less of the psychoactive and/or therapeutic effect It exposes the discoloration from the inside of the flower that doesn’t see light. The flower can look discolored and misshapen.
Mildew can be mistaken for trichomes to the untrained eye but there are visual differences: Mildew is whiter and doesn’t glisten in the light. Can look like baby powder versus sugar crystals. Mildew has a cottony, web-like appearance under a microscope.
Mature seeds are brown with black “watermelon stripes” whereas young seeds are a light green or grey in color.
Mold / Botrytis
Also known as bud rot or grey mold: It is brown or grey decay on or inside the flower. Mold typically develops from the inside out. Post purchase, you may crack the flower open to see the brown or grey decay/rot/mold starting from the stem outward.
Pests that have infested the flower can leave webbing or appear as little black specks
Spider mites: It is brown or grey decay on or inside the flower. Mold typically develops from the inside out. Post purchase, you may crack the flower open to see the brown or grey decay/rot/mold starting from the stem outward. Fungus gnats/fruit flies - Small gnats will appear black
YELLOW STAMENS OR “BANANAS”
Stamens appear when the plant hermaphrodites, developing both male and female flowers.
Human or Animal Hair
An obvious red flag is the presence of human or animal hair found in cannabis.
Touching the flower can help with evaluating the cure, moisture and density. Here are some things to look for:
- Gives when squeezed but bounces back to its original shape when released. MORE DENSE STRAINS MAY NOT BOUNCE BACK AS MUCH.
- Should have a sticky or tacky (resinous) feel. FINGERS CAN BE LEFT WITH A STICKY FEEL. IF THE FLOWER IS TOO WET, IT HAS NOT BEEN PROPERLY CURED.
- The internal stem should snap, which means it was properly cured. THE STEM IS DRY BUT THE FLOWER HAS A LITTLE BIT OF MOISTURE. WHEN BROKEN IN HALF, THE STEM WILL HAVE A DEFINITIVE SNAP IN THE HANDS AND CAN SOMETIMES HAVE AN AUDIBLE SNAP.
- The flower should be tight in your fingers. DRY, LOOSE FLOWER IS AN INDICATOR OF POOR QUALITY.
Each flower strain has a different origin, providing each a unique aroma, which can make evaluating aroma difficult. However, distinctions can be made between high and poor quality cannabis through aroma. Here are some things to consider:
Most strains will expose their scent immediately just by opening the container.
Breaking or grinding the flower can bring out the underlying aromas.
Different flower strains will have unique flavor profiles. Similar to wine tasting, experience is necessary to distinguish between different flavors among the flower strains.
- Here are a few things to consider as you learn to distinguish between different flavors in the flower strains.
- The aroma may set up the flavor. OFTEN, THE AROMA OF THE FLOWER WILL MATCH THE TASTE.
- The taste should be pleasant and enjoyable, never harsh. IT SHOULD BE SMOOTH AND NOT BURN YOUR MOUTH, THROAT, OR NOSE.
- Some flavors line up with the strain’s aromas and others might suggest a different profile. Some strains such as Lemon Skunk offer a bolder taste; some such as Blue Dream are smoother.
Poor quality flower will leave a severe, harsh taste in the back of your throat and mouth. The seeds will taste like burnt popcorn.
“THE POWER IS IN THE FLOWER.”
- Smoking or using a vaporizer to consume flower is the preferred method because it achieves the fullest flavor
- Vaporizing may not provide as accurate a flavor profile.
- Load just enough fresh cured flower in the bowl for one hit.
- The first inhale offers the best opportunity to taste the full flavor of the flower. GROUND OR BROKEN UP FLOWER WILL ALLOW AIR TO DIFFUSE EVENLY WHEN SMOKED, PRODUCING ENHANCED FLAVOR CHARACTERISTICS.
- Hold flame to the flower while inhaling just long enough to ignite the bowl. IF USING MATCHES, ALLOW TIME FOR THE SULFUR TO BURN OFF. USING A REFILLABLE LIGHTER COULD AFFECT THE FLAVOR PROFILE OF THE FLOWER.
- To enjoy the full flavor, inhale briefly before exhaling. TAKE A SMALL “HIT” OR DRAW FROM THE PIPE (LIKE SIPPING WINE).
- Exhale slowly and completely.
No matter the strain, the first sensation that comes from cannabis is the sensation of lift, or of being high. THC can be characterized as a stimulant. Varying experience levels may affect how people feel with each strain and the amount of time people are lifted. The amount of cannabinoids that just entered the body (how much has been consumed) and body chemistry may also play a part in the sensations that come from cannabis.
The sensation of being lifted may include:
The sensation of
- What to know about Sensation:
- Start slow, go slow. START LOW, YOU CAN ALWAYS CONSUME MORE. FLOWER IS THE MOST GENTLE CONSUMPTION METHOD. ONSET EFFECTS ARE IMMEDIATE AND MAY START TO DISSIPATE AFTER 2–4 HOURS. EVERYONE’S METABOLISM AND EXPERIENCE LEVEL IS DIFFERENT, VARYING THE AMOUNT OF TIME THE EFFECTS ARE FELT.
Some side effects may include:
A STIMULATED APPETITE.
Some studies have shown pain relief and relaxation with a higher CBD to THC ratio.
The “entourage effect” is different combinations of all the cannabinoids and terpenoids complimenting each other to provide a more well-rounded sensation.A high THC percentage doesn’t necessarily mean it will produce the most significant lift. THC percentage isn’t the only factor that goes into the lift. A lower THC percentage may provide a stronger lift depending on the strain and the cannabinoids and terpenoids within it.
The key categories of sensations that can come from different flower strains:
AmplifyPerception, creativity, pleasure MAY HELP YOU FEEL EUPHORIC AND
RelaxUnwind, connect, chill MAY HELP CALM THE NERVES AND
RelieveDiscomfort, pain, stress MAY HELP TO ALLEVIATE EMOTIONAL
AND PHYSICAL PAIN.
SleepCool down, rest, refresh MAY MAKE MUSCLES AND BODY FEEL
HEAVY OR EMPHASIZE DROWSINESS.
- Cannabidiol (CBD) The non-psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant.
- Cannabinoid Chemical compounds that act on the neurotransmitters of the brain. The most common cannabinoids are THC (psychoactive) and CBD (non-psychoactive).
- Cure The process of controlling temperature and humidity over time to achieve proper moisture content, flavor and aroma post-harvest.
- Flower The industry term for the cannabis bud. It is the female flower that is harvested for consumption.
- Pistils Tiny hairs on the flower that can range from light yellow to deep red in color. Pistils are important for reproduction, as they collect pollen from males, but they contribute very little to the potency and taste of the flower.
- Stamens The male reproductive part of the plant. Female cannabis plants are the most widely used for consumption, so stamens are not attractive features in a cannabis crop.
- Terpenoids The flavor and aromatic compounds of cannabis.
- Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) The psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant.
- Trichomes Tiny crystal-like resin glands covering the flower that contain the flavor and aromatic components of cannabis as well as the cannabinoids. The most common cannabinids are THC (psychoactive) and CBD (non-psychoactive).