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Cannabis Strain Guide

There are hundreds of strains on the market, so how do you know which one is for you? To help you navigate through this sea of options, we’ve created the ultimate guide to cannabis strains.

The Cannabis Plant

Cannabis is a flowering plant, all parts of which provide a variety of uses, some medical and some utilitarian.

The seeds of the cannabis plant can be used as a food source. The stalks can be processed for use in creating paper, rope, and clothing. The medicinal properties of the plant are yielded through the use of the cannabis leaves, roots, and especially: flowers.

Common Strain Classifications

A common misconception is that there are three strain types: indica, sativa and hybrids. Whereas, those names actually refer to the species of the Cannabis plant, not the strain. However, strains are often grouped by these classifications, so it’s an easy mistake to make.

Cannabis Plant Parts

The amazing, intricate parts of the cannabis plant include:


The flowers of the cannabis plant, often referred to as “bud,” are carriers of both THC and CBD, as well as other cannabinoids and a host of terpenes. Flowers can only grow on female cannabis plants, and if the flowers are to be used correctly, they must be carefully dried and cured first.


The calyx contains the female reproductive parts of the plant and holds more cannabinoids than any other part of the cannabis plant. This is because it is covered in resinous glands, or trichomes.

Sugar Leaves

Sugar leaves are the small leaves where you can see the cannabis plant’s buds begin to form. Like the buds themselves, the sugar leaves also contain resin and are often saved when harvesting as they can be added to “trim.”


Nodes are where additional growth can branch off the main stem of the plant. Sometimes nodes can be trimmed, and a new plant can be propagated. It’s important to be careful when trimming, though, because not every node contains buds.


The stem is the most basic part of the cannabis plant. It provides a sturdy structure and helps bring in nutrients to the different parts of the plant.


The cola of the cannabis plant is where the flower originates. It’s often called the “bud site,” and is a location where there are clusters of buds growing near one other. A cannabis plant usually has a main cola that is found near the top, and is also known as the apical bud.


Trichomes are small, resinous glands that formed naturally to protect plants against predators. In the cannabis plant, the trichomes produce a great deal of terpenes that help give cannabis its different effects, tastes, and scents. You’ll also find the bulk of the plant’s cannabinoids, including THC, in the trichomes.

Fan Leaves

Fan leaves are the most well-known part of the cannabis plant besides the bud itself. Fan leaves have the iconic five-leaf shape that you often see displayed on clothing and other cannabis memorabilia. Their main purpose is to help capture light for the plant to photosynthesize.


The pistils of the cannabis plant hold the reproductive parts. They’re often seen with small hairs protruding off of them, which are referred to as stigmas. The pistils collect pollen from male plants to bud and reproduce.

Cannabis Compounds

Cannabis is a complex plant with over 400 chemical entities of which more than 60 of them are cannabinoid compounds. THC and CBD are two of the most commonly known nd studied phytocannabinoids.

Both tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are compounds found in plants that are part of the Cannabis genus. These two compounds have similar molecular structure but have different effects on the body. CBD is mainly distributed as gummies, oils, gels, and extracts. Meanwhile, THC is known for its psychoactive property that gives the high feeling. Variations in the amount of these compounds present in a particular strain result in differing effects, including the degree of highness a person experiences. As such, in medical marijuana, these compounds are also associated with helping manage their own list of conditions.

CBD helps with seizures, inflammation, pain, mental disorders, migraines, and depression. THC is commonly used for pain, insomnia, and low appetite. As for side effects, CBD typically has none. Even in large doses, the body usually tolerates CBD well. The only side effects that may present from CBD use is likely the result of the compound interacting with other medication. On the contrary, THC has temporary side effects like increased heart rate, dry mouth, red eyes, coordination problems, slower reaction times, and memory loss. It is important to note that neither of the two compounds can be lethal. When choosing the right strain, with the right amount of CBD or THC for your medical condition, it is important that you consult with your doctor and the marijuana professional at your local dispensary.

Beyond THC and CBD, there are some other major Cannabis Compounds to look out for, such as Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid (THCA), Cannabidiolic Acid (CBDA), Cannabinol (CBN), and Cannabigerol (CBG).