Sugar leaves are small one-fingered leaves that grow straight out from the bud. They aren’t the large fan leaves you see protruding from branches on the plant. They are called “sugar leaves” because these leaves are often covered in sparkly trichomes which look like a sugar.
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. While fan leaves found on the cannabis plant also have trichomes, they are far less concentrated in comparison.
The amount of trichomes on the sugar leaves is related to strain. Some strains don’t produce a lot of trichomes even on buds, while others produce so many they spill onto all of the nearby leaves.
Having more sugar leaves does not mean more trichomes, nor will resinous flower automatically signal more sugar leaves. Their size will also vary a lot. Sometimes they’ll cover the bud, while other times, they’ll barely peek through the flower. This will also be affected by how their size compares to that of the bud.
On the other hand, there seems to be a relation between the number of leaves and the size of the buds. When the buds are larger, they tend to contain fewer sugar leaves. But when the buds are smaller, they will have more sugar leaves. Why this happens is still a mystery, but growers have reported a noticeable trend.
Some growers trim the sugar leaves off and others leave them on. The resin of sugar leaves can be used if removed to make hash or cannabis infused butter (cannabutter).
Growers cite various reasons for leaving the sugar leaves on, such as protecting the buds, increasing yield weight, slowing down the drying process, or even purely for aesthetic reasons.
Other growers remove them, as they can have a harsh flavor or at least will alter the flavor of a particular strain. Still others remove them since they can be used in the production of hashish or other edibles. Others remove them as they want to hasten the drying process.
What To Do With Your Sugar Leaves?
You can do all sorts of fun stuff with leftover trim. You could first try and roll up a joint with it and check out the taste and how potent it is. You may be pleasantly surprised, or highly disappointed—but at least you will know.
The decision to smoke sugar leaves will partially depend on the amount you have. If, after curing, you feel they aren’t that present on your buds, you might as well leave them. They won’t be worth the trouble of trimming further. But in case you’ve decided the cons of smoking sugar leaves outweigh the pros, here’s what you can do with them.
Pros of Smoking Sugar Leaves
- If you don’t trim off your sugar leaves after harvest, it will increase the total weight of your cannabis yield significantly
- If you’ve got a lot of sparkly leaves, buds may look prettier if you leave the sugar leaves on
- If you leave sugar leaves on after harvest, it slows down the drying process, which may increase smell/flavor if you’re drying in a hot or dry environment.
Cons of Smoking Sugar Leaves
- The plant matter from leaves is more “harsh” than the plant matter in buds, and may irritate the back of your throat while smoking if you don’t trim them off
- There is a lot less potency in leaves compared to bud (which is full of THC and other cannabinoids all the way through).That means you need to smoke far more leaves than buds to get the same effects.
Throw them in a vaporizer
If you own a vaporizer, this might be the most obvious solution for you. Sugar leaves contain both cannabinoids to get you high and terpenes for flavor (and to steer the strain’s effect). Because that’s what is essentially consumed with a vaporizer, vaping is the perfect way to utilize your trim with little effort. Where smoking the leaves in a joint would give a harsh taste, due to an excess of chlorophyll and other unpleasant tasting components in the leaves. The lack of combustion of the leaves, but rather the evaporation of cannabinoids and terpenes on them, make vaporizing sugar leaves a super tasty experience.
Another way to make good use of your sugar leaves is to process them into edibles. Although we must admit, this method requires a bit more time and effort than the previous one. Especially if you produce edible pieces of art, like Amsterdam Genetics’ Michelin-Star Baker Rick does. To make edibles, most baked bakers infuse butter or coconut oil with cannabis to bake with. In this case, with sugar leaves, it is advised to use double the weight you would with cannabis buds. Because though sugar leaves carry cannabinoids and terpenes in trichomes, the glands are far less concentrated on these leaves than they are on a nug.
The most laborious way to use your sugar leaves is to turn them into hash, otherwise known as extracts. Methods like dry-sifting, ice water extraction, CO2-extraction, mechanical drums (and more) could potentially turn your trash into treasure. One downside, it takes some time, effort and investing in the proper equipment. But as soon as you get a hold of this hash-making thing, you might just become the coolest kid in the neighborhood.
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