What Are Cannabis Sugar Leaves And How Are They Used?

Published :
Categories : Other subjects

What Are Cannabis Sugar Leaves And How Are They Used?

Come harvest time, what is your trimming strategy? Do you keep your sugar leaves on the bud, or do you trim and throw them all away? Here's why you should keep your next batch of leftover sugar leaves.

The cannabis plant is a wonderful factory, so to speak. It is one the fastest-growing and highest-yielding biomass engines known to man. And, as a huge plus, it is also psychoactive thanks to the THC compound we so immensely enjoy.


Nearing harvest, as buds mature, what is really happening is that female flowers become so sexually stressed they start over-developing in size, density, and trichome production. They sense their end is near, and every single day counts for the propagation of the species. Producing seeds is their top priority, and even the tiniest speck of male pollen will trigger a bud to produce seeds.

As cannabis consumers, we do not want that to happen. What we do want are big, fat buds oozing with resin, perfectly dried and long-cured so we can enjoy their lovely, cannabinoid-rich smoke. However, bud does not arrive at your doorstep straight from nature like that. It has to go through harvest, drying, a final trimming session, and hopefully, a decent curing period before it travels all the way into your joint.


Sugar leaves are those tiny, one-fingered leaves that shoot straight out from the bud—not to be confused with the big fan leaves with 5–7 fingers that shoot out from the stems. You really can’t miss them, but they do vary considerably from strain to strain.

Are we supposed to smoke these leaves? The quick answer is…depends!

There are many different styles of cannabis processing, and each farmer will have his or her own preference. The main reasons for removing sugar leaves come down to potency, aesthetic, and time.

Come harvest, the entire plant is chopped down. The big fan leaves are removed, and some growers prefer to do a first pass of finer bud trimming while the plant matter is still fresh and easy to manipulate. This necessarily involves trimming some sugar leaves from the bud. This process helps to ensure that buds will contain only the plant matter with the highest concentration of trichomes.

Others think this is sacrilege.

Others still have so many plants, they just can’t afford the time to pre-trim before harvest and drying. It all depends on the grower's reasons for or against it.

In either case, the final trimming of the bud (before it is presented to the world) involves chopping away any unwanted, unsmokable matter. This is also sometimes referred to as “manicuring”, as one very important aspect of trimming is making sure the bud looks more appealing to the consumer.

So what is “appealing”? Trichomes! For the most part.


It is a rule of thumb that if your weed is packed full of resin glands, nice and frosty and sparkly, that your weed is better and stronger. This is not true, in broad, general terms.

There are strains out there that are extremely potent, yet do not have that many outer resin glands. Haze hybrids are known for this. Generally, the more tropical your strain (the more sativa genetics), the less trichome production tends to naturally occur.

Resin glands are also a line of defence for bugs and UV-B and UV-C radiation, so the higher elevation you grow your cannabis outdoors, the more trichomes they will produce. That is why native indicas from the Hindu Kush mountains tend to produce more resin glands.

Many indoor growers have started experimenting with adding aquarium/reptile UV lights as a supplement to their garden. The jury is still out about how much UV light is necessary to produce an abundance of trichomes.

What Are Cannabis Sugar Leaves And How Are They Used?


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. Usually, the more sugar leaves left on the bud, the greater chance of a harsh smoke with the “green” taste of chlorophyll.

Instead, you can bake and make potent edibles, for instance. By concentrating the leaves into butter and oil, you can get the most out of the plant matter. You can also experiment with extracting oils using the rosin press method. Depending on the quantity you have, you could even try making kief or hash using a traditional silk-screen or tumbler device.

Some people love having trimmed sugar leaves heavily mixed with tobacco for daily use. It can give you a manageable buzz, while at the same time reducing the amount of tobacco being smoked.

The more adventurous could try extracting oils using butane. The mad scientists out there with access to some serious quantities can even extract essential oils and isolates using supercritical CO₂ machines.

Topical creams can be made to help ailments like eczema or rheumatoid arthritis, or for basic muscle recovery for athletes.

Grain alcohol extraction is also popular. With time, THCA will decarboxylate without added heat, making for a psychotropic cocktail.

You can infuse olive oil, strain out the plant matter, and use it for cooking or to top off salads.

The beauty of cannabis is, everything can be transformed into something useful and nothing has to go to waste. Even the roots possess potent anti-inflammatory alkaloids. Not to mention, non-psychoactive soup made using fan leaves is quite delicious.

So, if you have yet to start collecting and jarring your trimmed sugar leaves, begin now. You will be amazed at how strong they can get after a long cure. Please do not throw them away.

Be playful and inventive, and come next harvest, you will look at these little leaves from an entirely different perspective.