by Nebula Haze
What are sugar leaves?
Sugar leaves are the small single-finger leaves that grow out of your cannabis buds during the flowering stage. They are called “sugar leaves” because these leaves are often covered in sparkly trichomes which look like a dusting of sugar.
The “sugar” on sugar leaves is actually THC-filled trichomes!
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.
Although trichomes are a good thing because they carry cannabinoids like THC, some strains without many trichomes are still very potent because cannabinoids are also contained in the buds themselves. Sativa and Haze strains in particular often don’t have as many trichomes on the outside as indica-leaning strains, but are still incredibly potent!
Although this Lambsbread bud doesn’t have a whole lot of trichomes, it still has extremely powerful effects!
Besides strain, what affects the amount of trichomes on the sugar leaves?
Over the years I’ve noticed that you tend to get more trichomes on the sugar leaves when the buds are smaller. It’s like the plant has a certain number of trichomes it can make per bud, and if the buds stay small the trichomes spill out onto the leaves. But if you have a very thick cola, often the sugar leaves are not as sparkly as on the buds themselves.
Should Growers Smoke Sugar Leaves?
Unfortunately there is no consensus. If you ever spend a lot of time interacting with other cannabis growing enthusiasts, you’ll come to learn there are as many opinions as there are ways to do things! So I made the following list to help guide you on figuring out what’s best for you 🙂
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.
- Leaving sugar leaves on after harvest slows down the drying process, which may increase smell/flavor if you’re drying in a hot or dry environment.
Some strains produce so many trichomes that it’s hard to tell where the leaves stop and buds begin!
The buds from that plant were only lightly trimmed. The sugar leaves were as good to smoke as the buds
Cons of Smoking Sugar Leaves
- The leaves may be more “harsh” to smoke than the buds themselves. Some people find their throat is easily irritated from smoking untrimmed buds
- There is typically much less potency in leaves compared to buds (which are 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.
So there are definitely pros and cons to each method!
What else can you do with sugar leaves?
Here are other things you can do with your sugar leaves besides smoking:
Edibles – Eat the Cannabinoids
- Decarboxylation: How to Decarb Your Weed (crucial step for just about every edible recipe)
- Best Weed Butter Recipe
- Cannabis Gummies
- Canna Caps
- How to Make Cannabis Tinctures
- Rick Simpson Oil (RSO)
Extracts (No Solvents) – Turn sugar leaves into concentrates
- Solventless Extraction Showdown – Bubble Hash vs. Dry-Ice Hash!
- Dry Ice Hash (Made with Dry Ice)
- How to Make Bubble Hash (Made with Ice Water)
- How To Make Your Own Homemade Rosin (dabs)
Extracts (Using a Solvent)
- Pure Cannabis Hash Oil (alcohol is used as a solvent)
The results of making dry ice hash
A closeup of the Bubble Hash we made
A closeup of Dry-Ice Hash from the same starting cannabis matter. You can actually see the individual trichomes!
Pure Cannabis Hash Oil can be eaten or smoked
I believe that smoking sugar leaves is something to consider on a bud-by-bud basis. Some sugar leaves probably should be left on buds to smoke, while others should be turned into something else. As you harvest more plants over time, you’ll start to get a feel for what you like best!