How to Identify a Cannabis Strain
Right now, there are well over 700 different cannabis strains, and new strains are hitting the market all the time. Chances are, you’ve smoked some amazing bud, but you had no idea what it was.
However, what if we told you that there was a way that you could easily identify cannabis strains like a true connoisseur? You’re in luck because there is, and all it takes is the use of a few senses.
If you’d like to find out all about how to identify a cannabis strain, then continue reading below.
Remember, seeing is believing—and the way a bud looks can provide a lot of clues. First, take note of the shape, size, and color of the bud.
By looking at the overall profile, you can first determine whether you have an indica, sativa, or hybrid on your hands. Once you know what type of cannabis you have, then that helps you narrow down your search.
Are the buds tightly packed, dense, and relatively heavy? Then it sounds like the flowers from an indica or an indica-dominant hybrid.
If you have a bud that’s elongated, narrow, and fluffier, then the chances are it’s a sativa or sativa-dominant hybrid. Finding a pure hybrid may be a little tricky since they can have a mix of these traits.
Your next clue will be to observe the color of the cannabis. However, the usefulness of color is a bit limited.
That’s because the color of cannabis flowers depends on environmental factors. Cannabis flowers growing in warm conditions tend to have a brighter green color.
On the other hand, cooler environments produce darker buds that can end up turning purple. However, genetics also play into the color of buds.
Even though cold weather can turn buds purple, some strains are almost always purple. That means if you see a purple strain, then there’s a good chance that it’s a common purple strain.
Likely, it will be Granddaddy Purple (GDP), Grape Ape, Purple Urkle, Purple Kush, or any other widespread purple weed.
The Nose Knows
The next thing you’ll want to do when encountering an unknown strain is to give it a good whiff. Not only will amazing fragrances tease your nose, but the smell will help you identify it.
Take a few good smells and pay close attention to any subtle aromas. It helps if you break open the bud and take a closer sniff.
Remember, all cannabis strains have their own terpene profiles. Terpenes are the compounds in cannabis that give them their taste and smell.
Every strain has a handful of dominant terpenes that make up its terpene profile. That means that the smell of a strain will be more reliable than its looks alone.
Below are a few common smells that you’ll likely encounter when determining a strain.
Earthy or Piney
Weed that has an earthy or piney smell to them are likely Kush varieties. The most famous Kush strain is OG Kush, and it’s the backbone of hundreds of strains.
So if you smell an overly earthy smell, then there’s a high chance that you have a Kush hybrid. That’s especially true if you’re on the West Coast, where Kush strains reign supreme.
Cheese or Skunk
Does your bud have a dank odor that resembles cheese? If so, then there’s a good chance that you have a strain with Skunk #1 in its genetics.
That means that you likely have UK Cheese, Blue Cheese, or any other hybrid Cheese strain. These strains are unmistakably skunky, and you’ll identify them the second the smell hits your nostrils.
Citrus is a typical smell in cannabis, thanks to the terpene limonene. However, some strains have an overwhelming citrus smell.
If your bud smells like a freshly cut orange or lemon, then the strain might be Tangie, Super Lemon Haze, Clementine, or Agent Orange.
Diesel or fuel smell is a dead giveaway for diesel strains. A unique mix of terpenes gives strains like Sour Diesel, Chemdawg, and NY Diesel distinct gassy smells.
Although other strains may have a fuel smell, these strains are typically very sharp. That means that the fuel smell is powerful to the point of being almost overpowering.
Sweet or Berry
Sweet strains are all the rage right now. Candy and berry strains have become some of the most popular strains over the last decade.
If you notice a sweet or candied aroma, then you likely have some type of connoisseur strain. Wedding Cake, Gelato, Runtz, Ice Cream Cake, Skittlez, or Blueberry are likely culprits.
Use Your Taste Buds
As we mentioned, terpenes also give each strain their unique taste. However, the taste can sometimes be quite a bit different than the smell.
That’s because the smell of a strain doesn’t necessarily match its flavor. For example, Chemdawg, which has an incredible diesel aroma, tastes more spicy and earthy.
In fact, most strains will have an earthy, woody, or piney flavor. The exceptions to this rule are dessert strains.
As we mentioned, sweet strains have become incredibly popular not just for their smell but also for their taste. If you take a puff of some bud and you notice bold notes of fruit, candy, mint, or vanilla flavors—then you likely have a newer dessert strain.
Notice the Strain’s Effects
Last but not least, you can identify a strain by the way it makes you feel. Although this method isn’t that reliable on its own, it can help you when combined with other clues.
For instance, if you smoke dense, purple weed that makes you feel incredibly relaxed and sleepy, there’s a good chance you had GDP.
Or, you got your hands on a strain that looks long and narrow, smells citrusy, and feels energetic—then you likely had Super Lemon Haze.
Remember, it’s all about observing a strain’s characteristics and then putting the pieces of the puzzle together. The more pieces you have, the clearer the strain becomes.
You might not be able to find the exact strain every time, but you’ll have an easier time figuring out which strains you do enjoy. Remember, the more you observe and practice, the more easily and quickly you’ll be able to identify a strain.
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I give my thanks & gratitude to the author for making my task easy. Btw, I typed into search bar …. “How to: Identify unknown cannabis strain I’m growing?”
How to become a bud tender…
Hey EJ, thanks for the comment. That’s an interesting topic that we will explore.