Cannabis sativa illustration from the Vienna Dioscurides, a Greek medical textbook, 512 AD
Do You Love The Marijuana Leaf?
Cave painting in Kyushu Japan from the Jomon period (10,000 to 300 BC)
Marijuana leaves have been a source of artistic inspiration for stoners in many cultures throughout history long before the leaf became a ubiquitous symbol of the modern global cannabis community.
Ancient Egyptian goddess Seshat, Pharaoh Tuthmosis III (1479 to 1425 B.C.E.) called this deity “she of the seven points”
In this post, we’ll break down the biology behind the most common types of the marijuana leaf in addition to showing you a few leaf variations you may not have heard of. We’ll also make sure that you can spot signs of poor leaf and plant health. Lastly, we’ll discuss the benefits of juicing and cooking your leaves into cannabutter in order to make the most out of them.
The Marijuana Leaf: Types
All of the different types of cannabis leaves belong to the general umbrella category or genus known as Cannabis sativa L. The L. in the plant’s genus name stands for Carl Linnaeus’s last name, who was the first to identify and name the species in 1753 according to the modern taxonomic nomenclature that he developed.
Large cannabis sativa leaves can have up to thirteen long, slender, pronounced, jagged, spiky serrations. The coloration of sativa leaves ranges from light to dark green. Sativa leaves can come from either female plants from which we harvest the smokable weed we all know and love or from the male plants known as hemp. Hemp plants produce more CBD than THC but are typically grown for a mind-blowing array of renewable, eco-friendly, industrial, planet saving purposes.
Linnaeus mistakenly assumed that the cannabis genus was monolithic meaning that it only had one species, the sativa variety itself. There are however several other varieties of marijuana leaves that grow from the different subvarieties of the Cannabis Sativa plant. Cannabis indica leaves typically grow much shorter and wider than sativa leaves into seven to nine, olive-green leaflets. French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck coined the name Cannabis indica in 1785 to account for the differences between the Cannabis sativa hemp grown mostly for agricultural purposes in Europe and cannabis indica plants grown for medicinal purposes in India.
Russian botanist D.E. Janischevsky identified a third species of marijuana plant that he named Cannabis ruderalis which grows across eastern Europe and was commonly used by Russians and Mongolians to treat depression. There is some debate as to whether Cannabis ruderalis is actually its own species.
The leaves of the ruderalis plant possess five to thirteen leaflets and are very similar to those of an indica leaf except somewhat smaller and narrower. Ruderalis grows wild and doesn’t have as much THC content as the other species of cannabis plants.
Growers have experimented with crossbreeding ruderalis and indica plants in an attempt to create strains with shorter growing seasons. Cannabis sativa and ruderalis crossbreeds have produced strains that flower automatically without having to reduce the number of hours that the plant is exposed to.
Wild Weed Leaf Variations
Marijuana is a very adaptable, dynamic plant that loves to occasionally mutate. Two mutations in particular are useful for growers who may need to hide or conceal their cannabis plants from law enforcement agencies. However it’s worth knowing that deliberate attempts to make marijuana plants with these mutated leaves don’t always produce the best medicinal cannabinoids.
Australian Bastard Cannabis is another common marijuana mutation. The plant has hairless leaflets with no more than five points which are only a few centimeters long.
Signs Of Sickness In The Leaves
The leaves of your pot plants are clues to all sorts of issues that your plant may encounter during the growing process. Your leaves will show specific discolorations and deteriorations if the plant is deficient in key nutrients such as boron, calcium, copper, manganese, molybdenum, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur or zinc.
These deficiencies can be avoided entirely by utilizing tried and true organic marijuana growing methods involving proper cannabis compost and Subcool’s standard super soil formula for organic 420 fertilizer. You can still add specific organic nutrients to the soil and stimulate new ganja growth if you keep the PH range of the soil optimal for the specific nutrient. You’ll need to flush your lines with clean pH’d water containing half the plant’s nutrients for the deficiency to clear up and to stimulate new growth if you’re using hydroponic growing methods.
Your leaves will grow firm, drooping and curling down towards their stems, starving for oxygen if you overwater them. If this is the case, you’ll need to cut back on watering and give them time to recover. You can try increasing the temperature from the lights and your airflow if you are growing indoors to speed up water absorption. You can also poke some holes in the soil with a pencil to give them some oxygen. Your plants may also require a better drainage system.
The serrated edges of the leaves will begin to curl up if they are exposed to too much natural or artificial light. You’ll see yellow and brown burn spots on the leaves if they receive too much light or especially direct contact with a bulb. To alleviate these issues, decrease the intensity of your lighting and increase air circulation with fans to help your indoor plants recover. Hang a large cloth, sheet or build some other source of shade for your outdoor plants. Water them in the early morning and late evening to help them retain water and recover from heat and light stress.
Making The Most Out Of The Marijuana Leaf
Soaking your freshly harvested marijuana leafs in cold water for five minutes and then juicing them with some lemon, apples, carrots, beets or other vegetables is an extremely easy and incredibly healthy way to make the most out of your marijuana leaves. Juicing your cannabis leaves won’t transform the raw THCA acid into the psychoactive THC cannabinoid that will get you high. However many patients love experiencing the health benefits without the euphoric high by juicing ganja leaves.
Kristen Peskuski was bedridden, taking forty medications a day, told she would never be able to have children and was near death due to a degenerative condition known as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus when Dr William Courtney (pictured above) prescribed raw cannabis juice to her. Kristen recovered, married Dr. Courtney and wound up giving birth to a healthy daughter without any complications or medical intervention. This high-powered 420 friendly family has since become a leading advocate for the miraculous medicinal powers of raw cannabis leaf juice.
Don’t Smoke The Leaves!
Well, actually you can! However smoking raw marijuana by itself will only give you a mild buzz as opposed to a proper euphoric high. This is why we don’t recommend smoking marijuana leaves unless you’re using them to smoke good ground bud by rolling it into a custom joint for yourself!
Wash and soak about 3.5 ounces (100 grams) worth of your freshly harvested pot leaves in cold water for five minutes the same way you would before juicing them. Then chop and grind your leaves up. You should also throw in some (0.2 oz/5 grams) of ground weed bud for good measure.
Heat and simmer the ground weed leaves with equal parts butter and water in a sauce pan for 30 minutes stirring occasionally. Pour the mixture through a strainer to remove leftover plant matter and let the mixture refrigerate to solidify into cannabutter that you can use to make a wide variety of marijuana edibles.
Leafing You Dazed and Educated!
As a final reminder, it’s important to keep your leaves healthy so that you can enjoy the immense health benefits from juicing or creating cannabutter with your freshly harvested marijuana leaves.