Almost every plant has leaves. So, what’s special about the ones on cannabis? Fan leaves may be the most under-recognized part of the herb. Filled with flavor, resin, and other phytonutrients, a cannabis fan leaf can be put to use in a variety of ways. Here’s what fan leaves can tell you about your plant and three things to do with them.
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Cannabis plant leaves are the unsung heroes of its ecosystem, playing a vital role in the health of the plant. They’re akin to green solar panels, absorbing sunlight and turning it into fuel. Larger “fan” leaves, in particular, serve as reliable indicators of your plant’s well-being, while the smaller “sugar” leaves contribute to the overall health narrative.
As a watchful gardener, keeping an eye on your fan leaves is essential in preemptive problem-solving. Spotting signs like overwatering, nutrient burn, or stealthy mildew early on helps nip troubles in the bud. They also act as
‘intruder alert’ systems against pests like caterpillars and aphids, so keep an eye out for these pesty intruders for another sign of a not-so-healthy plant.
Remember, odd behaviors, such as discoloration or changes in leaf structure, are red flags. Simply put, when leaves, especially those at each node, go rogue, it’s a cry for help. A general rule of thumb is to be aware of odd plant behaviors, such as discoloration, changes in structure, or infestations. In short, when leaves go rogue, your plant needs an extra hand.
The cola of the cannabis plant, glittering with a crystalline resin cloak, is often hailed as a star for its psychoactive and medicinal power. Nevertheless, fan leaves carry traces of cannabinoids and acids that lend to a plant’s true therapeutic essence. Albeit, their contribution is a humble one.
In a blast from the past, a 1971 United Nations report shook things up with the suggestion that fan leaves help up to 0.3% THC and 0.7% CBD. But remember, these results were taken from a limited pool of samples across 8 geographical regions, with a few testing completely negative for THC.
Fast-forward to today, our cannabis is far more potent than what was available in past groovy times. So, it’s possible that cannabis fan leaves possess more of a punch than their ancestors did.
It’s not uncommon for growers to find themselves with more leaves than they know what to do with come harvest time. Unfortunately, some cannabis plants get so large that it seems almost impossible to put all fan leaves to use.
Composting excess plant and stalk material is always recommended, as nutrients from the leaves will continue to build healthy, more fruitful soil as they decay.
Yet, here are three other ways to reduce waste and use as many cannabinoids as possible.
Similar to teas, dried cannabis fan leaves can be infused into coconut oil (or any other kind of fat) to be used in topical skin creams and balms. The small amount of resin and other nutrients in the leaves work well for surface application, causing no psychoactive effects. Still, cannabis topicals have a myriad of benefits. To learn more about them, click here.
The easiest way to infuse your cannabis, even leaves, into topicals is with a device that can do it for you. Check out Ardent’s NOVA FX. It’s the world’s first all-in-one portable cannabis kitchen. You can infuse your cannabis flower and trim into topicals, oils, and even baked edibles—all with just the push of a button.
Fan leaves can also be dried and used in teas. The psychoactive effect of drinking cannabis tea is debatable. The resin of the cannabis plant is what
holds cannabinoids, but the resin is fat-soluble. For the cannabinoids to produce psychotropic changes, the resin needs to be dissolved into fat.
Simply adding dried cannabis leaves into a tea infuser and then in hot water for an herbal tea may promote relaxation, but it is unlikely to cause an out-of-this-world experience. Heating dried fan leaves in some coconut oil will extract and amplify whatever cannabinoids happen to be present in the leaves.
Fresh fan leaves can be used alongside raw cannabis buds to make an ultra-powerful green juice or smoothie (no need to learn how to decarb weed). In fact, raw cannabis juicing is now quite the trend. Cannabis-recommending medical professionals such as Dr. William Courtney argue that consuming raw cannabis increases the overall therapeutic dose of the plant.
When kept raw (undried or heated), cannabinoids in the plant are found in their acid form rather than their active form. This means that a consumer will not get “high” from eating or drinking raw cannabis. Rather, they can consume high quantities of the plant without alterations in cognitive ability or other side effects related to smoked cannabis or active cannabis edibles.