Growing a healthy, potent, and healing cannabis plant is not as simple as those beautifully packaged dispensary buds would lead you to believe. Regardless of the strain or whether that crop is grown indoors or outside, cannabis needs to be grown in ideal conditions and demands the right combination of light, temperature, humidity, and nutrient-rich soil.
In addition to optimal conditions, the growth of healthy and hearty cannabis plants should always be guided by knowledgeable growers; those who understand complicated plant anatomy, can coax out delicate cannabinoids and terpenes, and who can navigate the inside-baseball vocabulary particular to cannabis growers and breeders.
Bract, calyx, cotyledon, pistle, stigma, cola — ever heard of these? They are neither a mark of disgrace (stigma) or soft drink (cola), but a tiny sampling of words specific to the cannabis plant's anatomy. And they are also only some of the terms related to plant anatomy that the large majority of cannabis consumers have most likely never heard of. Nonetheless, all of them play an outsized role in the growth, development, and eventual cultivation of the products that land in one form or another on legal dispensary shelves.
Now, let's add one more word to the glorious motley cannabis plant vocabulary: larf.
What is a larf?
Whether you find it fun or unappealing to say, larf is slang for the small or immature buds on the lower stems of the cannabis plant that have a feathery or fluffy appearance. They are found where less light is able to penetrate the plant. Usually, this is because the available light is reduced from the emergence of colas — a stem that grows cannabis flower — in the plant's canopy above them, though other environmental factors may contribute, too.
When provided with proper light, larfs have all the potential to become the commercially viable and potent cannabis flower like the colas above them. But because of this lack of light, their growth is hindered, reducing their size, maturity, and desirability.
Though larfs are completely viable as a cannabis product since they are smaller and immature, they have lower market and aesthetic value. They also contain fewer aromatic and medicinal compounds like terpenes, as well as cannabinoids like THC and CBD, which makes them less attractive to consumers.
Can you de-larf a cannabis plant?
Though larfs won't harm a cannabis plant's growth or affect the overall efficacy of the cannabinoids and terpenes in them, many cultivators prefer to remove them early on in a plant's growth in a process called “de-larfing.”
Because larfs will not reach maturity and potency, growers typically trim them away to direct nutrients and energy to the more valuable, money-generating colas above and to increase the plant's overall productivity.
What can you do with your extra larf?
Just because larfs don't reach maturity doesn't mean they're useless. In fact, it's quite the opposite. If you've ever seen “popcorn bud” on a dispensary menu, that's larf — so named for the size (about the size of a popped kernel of corn). Popcorn bud contains cannabinoids and terpenes, though much less than regular flower.
The lack of cannabinoids and terpenes make larf a more affordable, though probably not better, option. Fewer cannabinoids and terpenes add up to a less potent and potentially healing product. If you consume cannabis for a serious medical condition, or even as a sleep or pain aid, larf is probably not an effective way to meet your needs.
Some growers may extract larf to make cannabis oils or offer larf at a discount to get it off their hands. Others may mix it in with mature buds to stretch the batch and increase their profit margins.
If you like to craft your own cannabis-infused edibles, try your hand at making your own cannabutter with larf instead of buying a more expensive treat from your local dispensary. As you would with cannabis flower, decarboxylate the larf to unlock the cannabinoids, then add it to your favorite homemade treats. The same principle applies to carrier oils like coconut or olive oil, offering up both savory and sweet options.
Using larf in joints or blunts is an excellent way to affordably prolong the life of your stash. You could also use a whole popcorn bud in a bowl that is just big enough for one person to consume — so long as you don't mind the lessened potency.
Using larf can be an excellent way to prolong your stash, fatten up a slim joint, or infuse into your favorite foods.