Do you think buds are the only valuable part of the weed plant? Think again. Cannabis is a bountiful crop and many of its structures can be harvested and utilised. Of course, the resin-oozing flowers are of top priority. But the leaves also have a real and practical use for every grower.
It’s easy to assume that the leaves are only useful while the cannabis plant is growing. These organic solar panels convert light into energy, a process that sends plants soaring upwards during the vegetative phase. Often overlooked, cannabis leaves deserve far more credit than they receive. Outside of plant physiology, they offer a substantial source of nutrition. They deserve more than being slung onto the compost pile. Their true destiny lies in nourishing salads, energy-rich smoothies, healing balms, and soothing teas.
Types of Cannabis Leaves
Before diving into all the exciting ways to use cannabis leaves, let’s start with some marijuana leaf basics.
Many users ask about how many leaves the marijuana plant has. While the number of leaflets (the individual fingers of the leaf) on marijuana leaves may differ depending on the type of cannabis plant, its place in the growth cycle, and more, they will have a odd number of leaflets, with mature leaves displaying serrated edges. Usually the number of leaflets is between 7-9, but some marijuana leaves can have up to 13.
When deciding how to use cannabis leaves, it’s important to first recognize that there are two types of leaves on a cannabis plant – the fan leaf and the sugar leaf. The two types of cannabis leaves have unique features that you may find makes them more ideal for a particular use.
- Fan Leaf: Broad marijuana leaves that shoulder most of the cannabis plant’s light gathering. Cannabis fan leaves are often recognized as the iconic symbol for cannabis. Fan leaves on indica plants are typically darker green with wider “fingers,” while sativa’s fan leaves often are lighter in color with lean, slender “fingers.” Cannabis fan leaves on hybrid cannabis strains generally feature a blend of the two. These leaves are typically trimmed during cultivation and contain low levels of cannabinoids. While they are among the most under-recognized and under-utilized parts of the cannabis plant, cannabis fan leaves are filled with flavor, resin, and phytonutrients that support wellness and health.
- Sugar Leaf: Smaller marijuana leaves that grow close to the cannabis plant’s flowers or “buds” during the plant’s flowering stage. Often times marijuana sugar leaves are hidden, with only their tips peaking through the larger marijuana fan leaves. Marijuana sugar leaves are usually trimmed after harvest to make buds appear more appealing to consumers, either before or after drying and curing. Sugar leaves are typically coated in white, delicious trichomes as if coated with a dusting of powdered sugar, and contain higher levels of cannabinoids than fan leaves.
These two types of marijuana leaves are often discarded, but they can be very valuable for making nutritious and cannabinoid-infused beverages and edibles that you can make at home or to amend previously-used soil to grow strong and healthy plants. Here are 4 healthy and green ways to use your cannabis leaves.
5 ALTERNATIVE USES FOR CANNABIS FAN LEAVES
Whether you have a few fan leaves left over after pruning or a huge selection of foliage lying around, below are five ways you can put them to good use.
1. CREATE NATURAL ROLLING PAPERS
This may take some practice, but many cannabis connoisseurs swear by the authentic experience of rolling fan leaf joints. The key is to dry them flat so they’re easier to roll. You could also try creating Thai sticks using hemp string to keep your bundle of fan leaves, flower, and hash oil together. Either way, there’s plenty of ways you can utilise fan leaves in your daily smoking rituals. Plus, imagine the look on people’s faces when you arrive with a giant fan leaf joint in hand—priceless.
2. BREW CANNABIS-INFUSED TEA
A symbol of sophistication, tea has been consumed around the globe for over 5,000 years. With the help of fan leaves, you can bring the same level of class and wisdom to your favourite herb. Although the resin, and therefore the cannabinoid content, is much lower in fan leaves than other parts of the cannabis plant, brewing the leaves will help extract every last drop.
For an organic experience, leave dried fan leaves to steep in hot water with a teaspoon of coconut oil, creating a homemade herbal tea. Don’t expect intense waves of euphoria, but there should be enough cannabinoid content to provide a very mild, relaxing buzz.
3. MAKE RAW CANNABIS JUICE
Juicing raw cannabis leaves has become increasingly popular in recent years. Not only is there nutritional value in the leaves, stalks, and seeds, but fresh juice contains a diverse spectrum of cannabinoids/cannabinoid acids. However, cannabinoid acids in raw leaves (like THCA and CBDA) haven’t been activated by heat, and therefore interact with the body differently. You won’t get high, but there is research to suggest that raw cannabinoids may have several health benefits of their own. While studies are ongoing, juicing is a simple, effective, and tasty way of putting unwanted plants and leaves to good use.
4. COMBINE FAN LEAVES WITH EDIBLES
Remember watching cooking shows as a kid and seeing the chef use basil leaves as a garnish? Bring a touch of stoner innovation to your culinary skills by using fan leaves instead. You can use the entire leaf for dramatic impact, or flatten, dry, and crush them before sprinkling on a range of dishes.
The flavour can be pretty overpowering, so we advise using your fan leaf garnish sparingly. And don’t worry about intoxicating your guests, THC levels will be minuscule at best.
5. CREATE FAN LEAF TINCTURE OR HASH
Think of tinctures as a more advanced, and more potent, cannabis-infused tea. Rather than steeping the fan leaves in water with a touch of fat, we use exclusively alcohol or coconut oil. These bind with cannabinoids more effectively, ensuring you capture all of the available THC, CBD, etc. Either heat the leaves gently in coconut oil or let them steep in vodka for several weeks. Once you’re happy with the mixture, sieve out the remaining plant matter and store in a glass dropper bottle.