Sun (or Fan) Leaves
These graceful, serrated leaves comprise the bulk of the plant’s mass and fuel the critical process of photosynthesis (converting sunlight into chemical energy) for the plant. They do not have a high THC content, so they’re generally not smoked. Finished buds made up of clumps of calyxes (below) are the THC-laden smokable parts of the plant. During the vegetative stage, though, sun leaves are critically important to the plant in helping it grow and reach maturity. A healthy plant will have healthy fan leaves. Nutrient deficiencies, disease, over-fertilization, over-watering, or dehydration will cause the fan leaves to curl, yellow, or simply die off prematurely.
The calyx, the actual flower of the plant, is covered by the trichomes that hold the precious THC. Calyxes only start forming when your plants move from the vegetative (growing) stage to the flowering (budding) stage. Each calyx expects to be fertilized by the pollen of male cannabis plants. If it does become pollinated, then a seed will form within the calyx. However, if a calyx doesn’t get pollinated during its fertile period, it simply continues to flower and produce more THC until harvest time. Sinsemilla, or seedless cannabis, is the ultimate destination for closer growers.
Remember, too, that a plant’s energy stores (growth power generated through photosynthesis) are limited, and that energy can either be spent forming (usually) unwanted seeds or forming THC. Anything you can do to focus your plants’ energy on THC production and not be spent on other activities will benefit you come harvest time.
Trichomes are microscopic little stalks with globular heads that grow from the calyxes and stigma. They hold the THC your plants produce. You’ll need at least a 30x microscope to see them clearly (and you’ll need to get one, which we’ll discuss later). Trichomes do not begin forming until a couple of weeks into the flowering stage.
These little globules are very delicate in nature so plants need to be handled gently before, during, and after harvest. Many people unknowingly damage their buds by treating them roughly, grinding them up, letting them get mashed in a baggie in their pocket, etc. Rough handling smashes the delicate trichomes and allows the THC to escape, lowering the overall potency of the smoke.