The leaves are the most detectable and well-known part of the cannabis plant. Despite the wide range of diversity in wild cannabis populations, the appearance of the leaves does not differ much between varieties. However, cannabis leaves can have anywhere from 3 to 13 leaves. It all depends on what cannabis strain you have. Here is all you should know about why your cannabis plants have more “points” than others and the essentials of having cannabis leaves.
Functions of the cannabis leaf
Like many other plants, leaves are essential to a cannabis plant’s life support system. The green pigment chlorophyll permits leaves to function as solar panels. As you may know, this sunlight-gathering function is critical to photosynthesis. The undersides of the leaves are covered with tiny stomata, small openings that open and close like a door. Carbon dioxide enters, while oxygen and water exit. The leaves may also absorb nutrients to nourish the cannabis plant, a process called foliar feeding.
The two common kinds of cannabis leave you notice during the growth stages
Here are the two types of cannabis leaves that you’ll encounter whether you’re cultivating an Indica or Sativa-leaning strain:
Fan leaves: These are big leaves that form during the vegetative development phase. They work similarly to solar panels, gathering light and transforming it into energy for the plant to develop. These leaves can also be used as emergency storage for nutrients like nitrogen. If the plant cannot obtain them from the soil, it might extract stored nutrients from the leaves. When this occurs, the leaves start to turn yellow.
Sugar leaves: These can be discovered tucked between the buds and extending from them. Their name comes from the “frosting” of white trichomes that coat their surface. Sugar leaves’ primary job is structuring the buds, allowing them to keep together. Sugar leaves are high in cannabinoid-rich trichomes yet taste bitter when smoked. As a result, growers usually cut them off the buds. While less suitable for smoking, sugar leaves are good for creating hash or cannabutter.
What can you do with fan leaves and sugar leaves?
Sugar and fan leaves are beneficial in the kitchen and the medicinal cabinet. Here are a few uses for cannabis fan leaves and sugar leaves:
Extract raw cannabis juice from the leaves. Place a handful in the blender and add other healthy ingredients like spinach, kale, apple juice, ginger, or even almond milk if you want to try a cannabis milkshake!
Make some cannabutter, which is loaded with potent cannabinoids. Sugar leaves create an excellent base for cannabis leaf butter, which can be spread on toast like any other special herb butter.
Infuse coconut oil with raw cannabis leaves in baking cookies and brownies. Cannabis coconut oil may also be applied to the skin.
Toss the leaves into a romaine salad with your favorite superfood ingredients, such as blueberries and flax seeds.
Compost any remaining cannabis leaves to ensure no part of the plant is wasted.
What can you learn from the number of leaflets on your cannabis?
The number of leaflets (or fingers) on your plant’s leaves can also communicate with you. Cannabis leaves yield more than three leaflets under typical conditions. The points awarded might vary depending on genetic variances and plant age. The first set of genuine leaves produces only one leaflet, whereas the second set produces three. Each leaf typically has between seven and nine fingers from that moment forward.
Some strains and individual plants deviate from the norm, generating five to thirteen leaflets per leaf. This number of fingers is normal for a healthy plant and is not a reason for concern. However, if your mature plant begins to produce leaves with just three or one finger(s), this might indicate stress.
It’s common to notice single-point “sugar leaves” when your plant has begun to form buds. Sugar leaves are significantly smaller than conventional leaves, and the base of a sugar leaf lies inside the bud.
You may encounter a cannabis plant with uneven growth while growing from clones or seeds. The fundamental cause of a one-leaf or three-leaf weed plant is stress. It is frequently the consequence of a plant that began blooming, then stopped and returned to vegetative development. Photoperiod variability will not only stress your plant, but it will also significantly reduce your harvest potential. Indoor growers should use a decent timer to avoid this problem. Timers are inexpensive yet critical for ensuring a constant photoperiod for your plant. If you produce outside, search for light sources such as patio lights or street lighting that may affect your plant.
The causes of cannabis 3-point leaves
3-point leaves are usually due to two things: genetics or a problem. Here are the common causes that can force or make your cannabis plants develop 3-point leaves:
Genetics: It might be genetics if your plants are healthy and have 3-pointed leaves from seedling to blooming. Some strains, like any Ducks foot strain, will develop 3-point leaves regardless of what you do. Cannabis strains with three leaves and points fall into one of three genetic categories:
Sativa: Sativa leaves are tall and thin-fingered, with some having up to 13 fingers. Sativa plants typically have a lighter, lime-green color, indicating a low level of chlorophyll. Reduced chlorophyll is thought to contribute to the prolonged blooming time of Sativa strains.
Indica: Indica leaves are short and broad, with 7-9 thick fingers. These leaves grow significantly bigger in the heavier Indica of Afghan provenance. Healthy indica leaves have a richer, deeper shade of green. This indicates that the leaves contain more chlorophyll, which is thought to speed up the bloom cycle of indica types.
Ruderalis: These cannabis strains have narrow leaves with 3–5 slender fingers. In both form and color, most growers compare them to the leaves of early Sativa plants. However, these plants are unique in that they have developed to blossom regardless of the hours of light they get.
Hybrid: Finding pure cannabis strains is difficult nowadays, and hybrids are common. Hybrid leaves are more difficult to recognize because they may favor their parent strains differently. Some of the most popular hybrid strains are Cannatonic, Blue Dream, White Widow, Gorilla Glue, Chemdawg, and Sour Diesel.
Light stress: When subjected to light stress, cannabis plants occasionally produce three-fingered leaves. Plants, in general, become very established in their ways. They quickly adapt to their surroundings, and any large change might make them feel scared and agitated. Cannabis plants sometimes respond to rapid changes in light sources by generating three-fingered leaves. An abrupt change in the kind or strength of light can drive a plant into a tailspin. If your light broke or you want to replace it, try to choose a model as close to your previous light as feasible if you’re in the middle of a development cycle.
Re-vegging: Growers may opt to re-veg their plants. They push their plants back into a vegetative condition after plucking some buds for a few weeks. This has a few notable advantages, including the ability to forego germination or cloning entirely, plants that come back considerably bushier, and preserving your harvested plant and utilizing it immediately for future harvest. Cannabis plants are naturally stressed during re-vegging. They sometimes demonstrate this by growing three-fingered leaves. These unusual leaves are typical and anticipated in such conditions.
Unusual photoperiods: Photoperiod plants need a longer period of darkness to blossom. This mirrors how they adapt to natural sunlight as the seasons change. Indoors, producers must keep their grow rooms black for 12 hours daily. Even a small light leak—as little as fifteen minutes every night—can lead plants to become agitated and respond by developing 3-fingered leaves. Keep your grow tent away from exterior light sources. If you’re growing in a room, you may need to install blackout curtains or blinds to keep streetlights from disturbing your crop.
Watering: Watering cannabis plants is a delicate balancing act. Overwatering can induce root infections, while underwatering can create stress and three-fingered leaves. Generally, water your plants after the top few cm of soil are fully dry. If you wait much longer, your plants will become stressed.
Environmental stress: Since weed plants are sensitive to their surroundings, practically any variable can generate stress, causing them to grow three-fingered leaves. Changes in humidity, temperature, and other causes can cause this phenomenon. Maintain the following environmental parameters to limit the likelihood of three-fingered leaves.
Temperature – Maintain these temperatures during each phase of the growing cycle:
Seedling stage: 20–25°C.
Vegetative phase: 22–28°C.
Flowering phase: 20–26°C.
Humidity – Shoot for these humidity concentrations throughout each growth phase:
Seedling stage: 65–70%.
Vegetative stage: 40–70%.
Flowering stage: 40–50%.
Weed plants’ leaves can have 3-13 points. Some strains are genetically inclined to have a specific number of fingers; therefore, it’s typically not an issue. If the cannabis plant is subjected to environmental situations, it can produce too few leaves. In these cases, you should fix the issue immediately. Don’t be concerned if your current plant has fewer leaf fingers than the previous one; each strain is unique.
Taylor is an indoor expert. Through their writing, they offer a masterclass on growing cannabis indoors, maintaining a productive growing environment, and guiding growers through all the stages of growth both indoors and outdoors. Combining multiple fields of expertise allows for Taylor to give in-depth insights into overall cannabis growing. About this Author