Sugar Leaf

ˈshu̇-gər ˈlēf | Noun

A term used within the cannabis industry to refer to the small leaves that, together with other sugar leaves, hold cannabis buds together. They are called sugar leaves due to the high concentration of trichomes that cover the leaf with a sugar-like appearance. Because of their high concentration of cannabinoids and terpenes, sugar leaves are typically trimmed off of the plant after it has been harvested and are then used for the production of concentrates.


I’m not sure what to do with all of my sugar leaf trimmings.


If you trim the sugar leaves from your bud, you can still use them to make concentrates.


More About Sugar Leaves

sugar leaf marijuana

Sugar leaves develop and grow out of cannabis colas, or buds, during the plant’s flowering stage. Colas typically begin forming slowly on the cannabis plant during the first 14 days of flowering. From day 14 to 28, bud development accelerates and sugar leaves begin to form. Both colas and sugar leaves are typically rich in trichomes, the tiny glandular hairs found all over the surface of the cannabis plant. Trichomes are responsible for producing cannabinoids and terpenes. High concentrations of trichomes add a sticky feel and crystal-like sheen to a cannabis plant surface, which is typically most apparent on colas and sugar leaves.

Trimming Sugar Leaves

Once a cannabis plant is harvested and dried, the bud is then trimmed and manicured for commercial distribution. Cultivators typically trim sugar leaves to make buds look more appealing to consumers and improve the overall quality of the product. While most cultivators trim their cannabis after drying, some prefer to trim while the plant is still wet. When left on the bud for a dry trim, sugar leaves offer the bud protection throughout the drying process.  


Buds that have been completely trimmed of all visible sugar leaves offer a tidier presentation that most cannabis users are accustomed to. And while sugar leaves are rich in trichomes, their concentration still isn’t as high as that of a cola, which means sugar leaves decrease overall cannabinoid and terpene concentration per volume when left on the bud. In other words, a gram of bud with sugar leaves intact will have a lower cannabinoid and terpene concentration than a gram of completely trimmed bud. Colas with sugar leaves still intact also produce a harsher smoke for the consumer.


As you’ve encountered different cultivars of dry flower over the years, you’ve probably noticed that some buds contain small leaves while others are completely leafless. Some cultivators may leave sugar leaves on the bud if they have a particularly attractive trichome sheen that may add to the bud’s aesthetic value, rather than take away from it. Others may prefer to leave the sugar leaves to add weight to their yield. Whether sugar leaves are left on a cultivated bud depends entirely on the cultivator who did the trimming and manicuring.  

Sugar Leaves in Concentrates

Sugar leaves, frequently covered in cannabinoid and terpene-rich trichomes, are often used to make cannabis concentrates. The goal with a concentrate is to isolate and accumulate the plant’s cannabinoids and terpenes for maximum potency. Sugar leaves may not be as potent as colas, but their relatively high trichome concentration makes them a great source for isolating and concentrating the most desirable compounds of the cannabis plant, so much so that the end result is guaranteed to be more potent than dry flower.


If you’re trimming sugar leaves that will be repurposed for concentrates, take care when handling your bud and leaves. Each instance of contact can result in trichome loss or damage. Whenever possible, hold your plant and branches by the end of the stem, and be as careful as possible with your sugar leaf trimmings. Ideally, you’ll want to trim your plants over a screen to collect trichomes that may break off.