A general term that refers to the smokable, trichome-covered part of a female cannabis plant. Flower is the most popular form of cannabis due to its versatility, offering numerous consumption methods, such as being smoked using a pipe or bong, or by rolling it in a joint or blunt.
“This Sour Diesel flower is the dankest sticky I've ever handled.”
“The dispensary down the street is known for its fire flower: each nug feels like a sticky, heaven-sent cloud in your palm.”
Common Forms of Flower
As noted above, cannabis Flower refers to the smokable section of the cannabis plant, also known as nuggets, nugs, or bud. In the common parlance of combusting cannabis, users grind Flower before smoking, packing, or decarbing it as ground cannabis burns more evenly and can be much more easily manipulated, be it in a bowl or measured in a cup and poured onto a baking sheet.
Cannabis that is purchased at a dispensary is known as loose Flower, that is, flowers purchased on their own are loose from the cannabis plant itself. Users aren't purchasing stems, leaves, or seeds — just Flower.
The other form of non-combusted Flower available for purchase comes in cylindrical or conelike marijuana cigarettes known as joints, prerolls or blunts. With these products, producers gather ground cannabis and roll it into prerolls to offer consumers a high-quality combusting experience with the utmost convenience — the grinding, rolling, packing, and wrapping have been expertly done for you. The quality of prerolls can vary, but as cannabis competition widens, less and less will be stuffed with low-quality bud, stems, and leaves. But as with any product, the scale of quality ranges from terrible to mind-bending. Some prerolls are packed with top-quality cannabis, shot through with grade-A Wax, dipped in potent cannabis oil, and sprinkled with kief. Your mileage will vary.
A litany of slang terms encompasses the cannabis Flower, including nug, bud, and herb. Cannabis is known for its variety of slang terminology. Nug, for example, is short for nuggets, which refers to the chunks of cannabis flower that one grinds before combusting, while bud and herb can be used interchangeably to refer to nugs, the cannabis plant, or even joints and blunts. Every cannabis slang term hails from one corner of the world or another, shading each with a hint of specificity. To learn more about individual terms, peruse this extensive collection.
Private reserve is a title exclusively used to describe the best available stuff. It often carries with it the connotation that its dispensary is responsible for its cultivation and harvest. Just as homemade food is often the best, private reserve flower holds similar esteem and gravitas.
The term top-shelf describes high-quality cannabis; interchangeable terms that describe marijuana of this tier include piff, fire, chronic, loud, and artisanal. Growing top-quality cannabis requires attentive care and meticulous harvesting, which is why bud that sports greater potency fetches higher prices. Growers focus on quality over quantity when it comes to producing top-shelf cannabis. If you look closely, top-shelf bud boasts intact geometry and oodles of trichomes. Oftentimes, fire cannabis feels sticky to the touch, like cotton candy.
The term bottom-shelf describes particularly low-quality herb. Bottom-shelf cannabis is also known as brick weed, dirt weed, schwag, popcorn, and ditch weed. Modern-day dispensaries organize their cannabis by quality, saving this term for their cheapest, lowest-quality stuff. Bottom-shelf cannabis is old, often sports low THC ratings, contains seeds and stems, and tastes harshly when combusted. Often, bottom-shelf cannabis is brown in coloration and notably contains few crystalline trichomes.
Joints and Blunts
Joints and blunts are the most commonly utilized methods of smoking. The benefits of rolling a joint or blunt are manifold and range from convenient to communicative; that is, grinders, papers, blunt wraps, and crutches can be purchased online or found in local dispensaries. Further, the act of smoking either of these forms of cannabis is universally recognized across the globe. “Puff, puff, pass,” the saying goes.
Pipes and Bongs
Bubblers, Chillums, Spoons, Steamrollers, and Gandalf Pipes: pipes and bongs blend the communicativeness of joints and blunts while providing users with a constant and reusable method of combustion. Pipes are the least fussy method of smoking, making them perfect for travel or discreet use: grind the cannabis, pack it into the bowl, and light up. Most Pipes are made of glass, but some are ceramic, metal, wooden, or silicone.
Bongs function similarly in that they offer users a readily usable method of indulgence; users need only grind their cannabis, pack the bowl, fill the bong with water or ice, and rip. Bongs come in as many shapes as there are colors under the sun and, just like pipes, the materials range from glass to plastic, ceramics, bamboo, metal, and silicone. Bongs also stand as another easily recognizable symbol of cannabis that transcends borders, both geographical and linguistic.
It's also worth understanding that cannabis users tend to flex their engineering creativity, so impromptu bongs can often be constructed with materials at hand, including fresh apples and empty water bottles.
Vaporizing has become one of the most popular go-to methods for consuming cannabis. Just like joint and blunt materials or pipes and bongs themselves, Vaporizers can be purchased online or at any local dispensary. However, while the aforementioned smoking methods involve combustion, vaporizers utilize vaporization to activate cannabinoids. Vaporization is considered to be a less harsh method of consumption when compared to combustion. Loose leaf or extracted material is heated just enough to release its key ingredients in vapor form, which prevents users from inhaling combusted material.
By and large, Vaporizers utilize two different methods of heating to allow for cannabis use: conduction and convection. Conductive Vaporizers juxtapose the cannabis with a heating element to release vapor. Vaporizers that utilize the convection method heat air and then pass it through the cannabis to minimize the chances of combustion while maximizing users' control over temperature adjustments. Convection results in a smoother hit but is often only found in more expensive vaporizers.
How to properly store Flower
Unless you're in the business of aging bud to up its sedative ante, properly storing flower is an important concern. The solutions are simple: Minimize Flower's exposure to oxygen, heat, moisture, or UV light by storing it an a long-lasting, airtight container such as a mason jar. For those in search of premium storage options, hermetic containers are excellent options, as they can maintain consistent levels of humidity.
Signs of Flower degradation
Color: Visually, cannabis flower exhibits telltale signs that it's been around the block once or twice. Once-exuberant flower shot through with bright greens and purples and oranges will wilt over time into deseccated lumps of rust-encrusted khaki green. However, if left largely undisturbed, its trichomes will remain intact.
Smell: Cannabis left to its own devices in a jar will, over time, produce a rather unpleasant aroma that can shock even the most veteran consumers. Exposing the cannabis to fresh oxygen should flush the container of its stale, fermented air, which, upon closer inspection, will reveal an underlying amalgam of hay and parchment paper.
Taste: The taste and mouthfeel of old cannabis stands apart from fresh Flower. For some, aged and desiccated bud packs an acerbic punch, while for others, the difference is negligible. However, in keeping with the flower's degradation of THCA into THC into CBN, its taste grows more earthy.
Anatomy of a Flower
Trichomes are hairlike, crystallike growths that crop up along cannabis buds. These structures serve a diverse set of functions across plants in botany; in carnivorous plants, trichomes function as digestive traps; in others, trichomes function to protect plants from encroaching frost or destructive wind. In cannabis plants, trichomes house the majority of the plant's resin. It was once thought that the plant's cannabinoids, including its THC, were produced by the green plant tissue and then transported outward to the trichomes during flowering, but with intensive research, researchers have since discovered that the trichomes make the plant's terpenes and cannabinoids.
The bract of a flower encapsulates a female plant's reproductive parts, and in a cannabis plant, bracts surround the flower's inflorescence — a term that includes a group or cluster of flowers arranged along a stem. Bracts resemble the shape of a leaf, but differ from normal petals. Generally, they are specialized leaves that protect a plant's flower structure; however, in cannabis, bracts are also part of the “flower.”
The calyx of a cannabis plant can often be confused with its bracts. This segment of the plant forms first and it is constructed of miniature leaves that spiral where the flower branches from the stem. To be specific, calyxes are made of sepals, which are tinier leaves that shield the flower's base. Calyxes offer cannabis flowers rigidity and structural protection, safeguarding their reproductive organs from external damage. The calyx of a cannabis plant is incredibly valuable because it holds the flower's pistils and the majority of its trichomes. In fact, calyxes are, by far, the most resinous portion of the cannabis flower.
Leaflets (Sugar Leaves)
As delicious as these sound, leaflets, or sugar leaves, are leaflike parts of a compound leaf that resemble an entire leaf. A compound leaf is a leaf that is made up of more than one leaflet, and often compound leaves come in odd pairings of three or five. One of the universal symbols for cannabis is its compound leaf: it resembles a hand splayed against a tabletop — each finger is a leaflet, or sugar leaf, while the entire representation is just one leaf. Sugar leaves vary in morphology a great deal, but their structure across botany remains the same. In cannabis, leaflets come in bundles of five per leaf and sport serrated edges; these structures are also trimmed from the final product.
The pistil of a cannabis plant comprises the plant's female organs and is composed of the stigma, style, and ovary. The cannabis pistil is a lengthy structure that is coated in resin that traps pollen to ensure fertilization. Across the various cannabis cultivars, pistils may look different, but their reproductive function remains identical.
Stigma are the hair-like projections that grow out of the pistil. In a grow operation, pistils serve little to no purpose, but out in the wild, stigma function as pollen collectors that provide cannabis plants with the material to grow seeds.