What is Cannabis Flower? The Ultimate Guide for New Consumers

cannabis flower guide
By Anthony Pellegrino Updated April 15th

Fact-checked by Deb Tharp

If you’re new to cannabis use, the first product you likely will try is marijuana flower. But what is cannabis flower? It certainly doesn’t look like an ordinary flower.

Simply put, cannabis flower is the dry nugs you smoke, vape, or consume. The flower we’re referring to here is essentially synonymous with weed itself.

So, as you can imagine, cannabis flower also plays a role in every other product: edibles, concentrates, topicals, tinctures and capsules.

In this overview, we’ll cover what cannabis flower is, all its parts, its uses, how to store it properly, what to look for when shopping, and more.

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What is Cannabis Flower?

Cannabis flower, also known as weed, marijuana, or pot, is the dried cured buds of the cannabis plant. These buds are the most sought-after part of the plant, as they contain most of the plant’s trichomes, which produce the unique aroma and carry the THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids responsible for cannabis’s characteristic effects.

The physical appearance of cannabis flower can vary depending on the strain. But, it usually appears as small, green, and dense nuggets of plant matter or buds. A sticky resin, which comprises trichomes, covers the buds along with orange or brown hairs.

Chemically, marijuana flower contains numerous compounds, including the most well-known, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC produces the famous intoxicating and potentially therapeutic effects, while CBD is known for its non-intoxicating potential therapeutic and medicinal benefits.

When purchasing flower and depending on their state, consumers can find recreational and medical-grade options for sale.

Recreational-grade flower is grown and sold for its psychoactive effects and is usually higher in THC.

Medical-grade flower is grown and sold for its potential medicinal benefits and is usually higher in CBD or other medicinal cannabinoids.

What are the Parts of Cannabis Flower?

parts of the cannabis flower

The cannabis plant comprises several distinct parts, each with its unique characteristics and functions.

  1. Flower: The flower, also known as the bud, is the most sought-after part of the plant. It is the reproductive organ of the plant and contains most of the trichomes, which produce the plant’s unique aroma and psychoactive effects.
  2. Cola: The cola is the primary flower cluster of the plant. It is located at the top of the plant and is often the largest and most resinous part of the plant.
  3. Trichomes: Trichomes are small mushroom-shaped structures found on the surface of the flower and leaves. They produce the resin that contains the cannabis’s active compounds, such as THC and CBD.
  4. Pistils: Pistils are the small, hair-like structures found on the flower. They handle the plant’s reproduction and can range in color from white to orange to red.
  5. Sugar Leaves: Sugar leaves are tiny leaves that grow directly from the flower. They are covered in trichomes, which give them a frosty, sugary appearance. Cultivators often remove them during the harvesting process.
  6. Bract: The bracts on the cannabis plant are small, leaf-like structures found at the base of the flower, where the petals and sepals attach. They can be green, purple, and sometimes even red.

What is Cannabis Flower Used For?

cannabis flower guide

Cannabis flower is the most commonly used form of cannabis for medical and recreational purposes.

There are several ways in which cannabis flower can be used, including smoking, extracting cannabinoids and terpenes for concentrates, and using it to make edibles or topicals. 

You can also consume cannabis flower raw, which provides some nutritional value, though it will not produce any psychoactive effects.

THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the primary psychoactive compound found in cannabis flower. It is responsible for the “high” commonly associated with marijuana use.

CBD, or cannabidiol, is another significant compound found in cannabis flower. Unlike THC, CBD does not have intoxicating effects. However, it has been found to have several potential medical benefits, including reducing anxiety, improving sleep, and reducing inflammation.

Besides THC and CBD, there are over 100 other known cannabinoids in cannabis flower, each of which may have different, beneficial effects on the body.

Terpenes are another group of compounds found in the cannabis plant. These compounds produce a distinct smell and taste. Different strains of cannabis have varying terpene profiles, which can affect the flower’s effects on the body and experience when consuming it.

Finally, when purchasing weed flower, you’ll notice the bud is covered in small, hair-like structures, almost resembling sap, called trichomes. They produce and carry the plant’s cannabinoids and terpenes and are responsible for the sticky feel of the buds.

The 3 Categories of Cannabis Flower

cannabis flower types

Cannabis is a complex plant with a wide variety of strains and subspecies. However, the three main categories of cannabis flower are indica, sativa, and hybrid.

Each of these strain types has unique characteristics and effects, making them desirable for different purposes and preferences.

Indica

Cannabis connoisseurs know Indica strains for their sedating and relaxing effects. Many people think of them as “night-time” or “sleepy-time” strains, but they can be potentially beneficial for pain relief and anxiety as well.

Sativa

Sativa strains are known for their energizing and uplifting effects.

However, medicinal users use sativas to potentially help treat depression, fatigue, and lack of appetite.

Hybrids

Hybrid strains effect range on a scale between indica and hybrid.

Cultivators breed these strains to bring out the best characteristics of the genetics, creating a wide range of effects and benefits. 

Cannabis Flower Products

cannabis flower uses

Cannabis flower is the most commonly used form of cannabis, and it is available in a variety of products for medical and recreational use. Popular cannabis flower products include loose flower and pre-rolls.

Loose Flower

Loose flower, also known as “bud,” is the most traditional form of cannabis flower. B

Dispensaries sell loose flower by the gram, eighth, or ounce, and they can range in quality from premium, high potency buds to lower quality “popcorn” buds or “shake” weed.

The best thing about loose flower is the ability to see and smell the buds. Not only that, there are many strains to choose from.

Nevertheless, the tradeoff of loose flower is the need to grind the buds beforehand and pack a bowl or roll the joint yourself.

Pre-rolls

Pre-rolls are another popular cannabis flower product. These are pre-rolled joints making them convenient and easy to use.

They come in different sizes and are filled with various strains and sometimes even infused with other concentrates.

They are a great option if you don’t like rolling your own.

However, buying pre-rolls can be more expensive than buying the same amount in loose flower.

Concentrated Flower

Finally, there are a variety of concentrated flower products infused with concentrates like hash, kief, and rosin.

Hash is a product made by compressing the trichomes of the plant. Kief is produced by sifting the trichomes of the plant, and rosin is made by applying heat and pressure to the flower.

Like other concentrated cannabis products, consumers turn to these products for their increased potency and flavor. Some consumers may not enjoy them for that same reason. 

Concentrated flower, sometimes referred to as moon rocks or caviar, may be considerably more expensive than loose flower.

How to Use Cannabis Flower

how to use cannabis flower

You can consume cannabis flower in a variety of ways, each with its own pros and cons.

The most popular methods include smoking, vaping, making concentrates, and infusing  edibles and topicals.

Smoking

Smoking is one of the most traditional and widely used methods of consuming cannabis flower. You can smoke flower in joints, pipes, or bongs.

Smoking allows for the immediate onset of effects and easy dosage control. However, it can also be harsh on the lungs and throat.

Vaping

Vaping is another popular method of consuming cannabis flower. It involves heating the flower to a temperature that vaporizes the active compounds, creating an inhalable vapor.

Vaping flower is less harsh on the lungs than smoking and can provide a more flavorful and potent experience. However, it requires specialized equipment.

Concentrates

You can also use cannabis flower as a source of concentrates, such as hash, kief, and rosin. These concentrates are made by processing the trichomes of the plant. They can be consumed by vaporizing, dabbing, or adding to joints.

Consumers use concentrates for their increased potency and more potent effects than loose flower.

Edibles

Cannabis flower is often the primary ingredient in edibles, such as brownies, cookies, and gummies. Edibles provide a convenient, discreet, and long-lasting way to consume cannabis.

However, they can be difficult to dose when homemade and can take longer to take effect.

Topicals

Like edibles, manufacturers often make topicals using cannabis flower as the active ingredient. Cannabis topicals, such as lotions and balms, provide a convenient, discreet, and localized way to consume cannabis.

They are often used to treat pain, inflammation, and skin conditions.

Weed Flower: Sizes and Prices

problems-with-a-potency-tax

Marijuana flower can come in a range of prices, depending on the brand, quality and quantity purchased.

However, typical prices are:

  • 1 gram: $8 - $15
  • 1 eighth (3.5g): $25 - $60
  • 1 quarter (7g): $65 - $100
  • 1 ounce (28g): $200 - $300

You can find prices outside these ranges, either higher or lower, depending on the product and brands you are buying.

For example, pre-rolls containing a single gram may be more expensive than a gram of flower alone.

Premium brands may also command much higher price tags than typical market value.

How to Prolong and Store Marijuana Flower

cannabis stems

Properly storing and preserving marijuana flower is essential to maintain their quality and potency. Here are some tips on how to do it.

How to Tell When Weed’s Gone Bad

To best prolong and store your cannabis flower, you’ll need to understand what to look out for.

There are several signs that cannabis flower has gone bad such as discoloration, mold, and a musty or harsh smell. Moldy weed, in particular, is something to keep a close eye on, as consuming it can cause lung and other health issues.

How to Store Flower Long-Term

Proper storage is essential to preserve the quality and potency of cannabis flower.

You should store cannabis in an airtight container in a cool, dark, and dry place. Avoid storing cannabis in the refrigerator or freezer, as these environments can cause the flower to dry out or become too humid.

Not only that, if the flower becomes too cold (in the freezer, for instance), the trichomes can become brittle and fall off, reducing the potency of your bud.

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Dry Out Damp Flower

Damp flower can lead to mold and mildew, which can compromise the quality and safety of the cannabis.

To dry out your flower, you can use paper towels, uncooked rice, or place it in a brown paper bag and leave it in a cool, dark, and dry place for a few days.

Rehydrate Dried Flower

While damp weed is a problem, so is incredibly dry weed. Dried-out cannabis flower can lose their flavor, aroma, and potency.

To rehydrate the dried flower, place it in a humidor or a sealed container with a dampened paper towel.

Preserve Old Flower

The older cannabis flower becomes, the more potency and quality it will lose.

However, old or expired weed isn’t necessarily useless by any means. You can use it to make edibles or concentrates, sift it for kief, or use it in a vaporizer.

Conclusion

what is cannabis flower

Weed flower is widely used, and the most popular, form of marijuana for medical and recreational consumers.

You can consume it or use it in several ways, such as smoking, vaping, or as a means to make extracts or edibles.

However, considering weed flower is a plant product, proper storage and preservation are essential to prolong and maintain its quality and potency.

Whether you are using weed flower or another kind of marijuana product, you must consume responsibly, follow local laws and regulations, and be mindful of your personal tolerance and the setting you are in.

The information in this article and any included images or charts are for educational purposes only. This information is neither a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional legal advice or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about laws, regulations, or your health, you should always consult with an attorney, physician or other licensed professional.

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