What’s in a name? A flower by any other name would still smell as skunky — okay, we’ll stop. Flower in the cannabis world is the classic way to smoke and ingest marijuana, but there’s a lot more to these little buds than meets the eye. Check out our ultimate guide to what flower is, how it can be used and what benefits it can bring to your lifestyle.
When we talk about flower, we’re talking about the buds of a female marijuana plant. Once harvested, these buds are dried, cured and packaged to be sold at cannabis dispensaries. If you’ve ever smoked a joint, you’ve smoked flower. It’s really versatile and can be used in bongs and pipes, and the oil can be extracted for use in edibles, vape pens, and extracts.
Marijuana flower is full of chemical compounds, called cannabinoids, that provide cannabis’ physical and psychoactive effects. You’re probably familiar with THC, which creates the feelings of a high, and CBD, which is used for pain relief and management. Flower also has compounds called terpenes that influence the way the cannabis tastes and smells.
- Sativa tends to have higher levels of THC and create a more energizing experience.
- Indica has more CBD and creates a relaxing experience.
- Hybrids, as the name implies, are a combination of the two.
However, the different types of cannabis have gotten more nuanced and complex over the years, so your dispensary’s budtenders will have the best recommendations when it comes to the right type for you.
The Parts of Flower
Cannabis flowers are made up of several different parts that all play important roles: the trichomes, calyx, bracts and sugar leaves. The trichomes are the hairlike growths along the bud that contain most of the resin — which holds the cannabinoids and terpenes — that is used for cannabis products. The calyx is what stores and protects the trichomes. The bracts and the sugar leaves both provide structure and protection to the bud, while also giving it its dusted appearance. All of these pieces together make the bud, which is ground and smoked.
Types of Flower
When you go to the dispensary, you’ll find loose flower available in three separate forms. They might come in different names, but these tend to be the most commonly used terms:
- Premium flower is the full, dense cannabis bud. When you hear the terms “nug” or “bud,” it’s usually referring to premium weed. Premium flower is also normally private reserve or top-shelf quality.
- Popcorn flower is the smaller bud of the cannabis plant that grows under the premium buds. Since they’re smaller, they tend to have lower levels of cannabinoids and terpenes, but they’re often much more budget-friendly than premium.
- Shake is loose flower material. It’s often sold as a mixture of different types of cannabis and used mainly for edibles, concentrates or other methods where the point is to extract the oils.
Ways to Use Flower
The great thing about cannabis flower is that it’s incredibly versatile. Here are some different ways you can use flower:
- Smoked in pipes, bongs or joints. The classic. Using a grinder, you break the buds up into a smokable powder that can be rolled into a joint or packed into a bong or pipe. If you’re new to smoking, you can also buy prerolls, which are ready-to-smoke joints. Smoking marijuana gives you the chance to really experience the flavors and smells provided by the terpene.
- Infused into edibles. When heated low and slow with a fat or oil, flower releases its THC. The fat or oil can then be used for cooking and baking. You wouldn’t want to use your nicest flower for this method, since the flavors and smells of the cannabis variety you’re using will get lost in whatever food you’re making.
- In vaporizers. Vaporizers are a great option for people who want to smoke but don’t like the actual smoke created by the combustion used in joints. Vaporizers heat the flower just until it releases its cannabinoids in vapor form.
Is Flower Right for Me?
Thanks to its versatility and the sheer volume of different varieties, flower is a great option for people who are new to cannabis. You can experiment with different consumption methods and strains to find the exact right one for you. Options like prerolls are really accessible and affordable for your first time.
If you’re ready to try flower but you’re not sure where to start, your local dispensary is the best place to go. The budtenders there are experts who know literally everything there is to know about cannabis, and they’ll be more than happy to help you find the right variety and method for you. For your first few times, try out small amounts of different types of flower so you don’t get stuck with a bunch of one kind you might not enjoy.
When you visit, don’t be afraid to take the time to have a conversation with the budtender about your goals and lifestyle. Ask questions about their recommendations and favorite ways to use cannabis. They’ll be able to guide you to the right choice that you can feel comfortable and confident about. Plus, there’s often specials or deals for first-timers, as well as rewards programs that can help you earn discounts.
Flower is a classic for a reason! Check out your local dispensary today.