We all identify hemp by the notoriously familiar wide, spiky leaves. Arguably the most valuable part of any cannabis plant is its flowers. In cannabis plants grown for marijuana, the flower contains THC. That’s the psychoactive compound responsible for getting people high. In hemp, the flower contains CBD. This is a natural substance with the anti-inflammatory properties, but not the “high” component. With the legalization of hemp in the US in 2018, and the CBD industry growing, hemp attracts more farmers each year. But what is hemp flower exactly and does it have all the magical claims you’ve heard about?
The anatomy of hemp
Hemp consists of a stalk, node (the knob-like part where leaves grow from), the distinctive fanned leaves, and clumps of flowers at the top. All parts of the plant contain some levels of the chemical compounds we want. But, the flower has the highest concentration. Hemp can be either male or female. Male plants produce pollen and female plants produce seed. Female plants produce the most CBD because they flower; that’s how you get the seeds. Farmers growing hemp for CBD only want female plants in their crops. This allows the plants to flower, but not create seeds. When male plants come in and begin pollinating, you get seed generation. This leads to lower levels of CBD in female plants. If you’re a hemp farmer, and notice a male plant growing in your field, remove it immediately.
Characteristics of hemp flower
Hemp flowers grow in a bunch, with mature flowers on the bottom and new growth on top. Colas are tight-knit clusters of buds. They contribute to the nice big chunks of dried and cured hemp flowers at the end of harvest. Pistils are the reddish-brown, hair-like parts growing from the flower that capture pollen. The tear shaped leaves growing on the flower, called bracts, protect the reproductive parts of the plant. Bracts actually contain the highest levels of cannabinoids in cannabis plants.
Hemp is an especially distinctive looking flower because of trichomes. They’re the very fine crystalline structures growing on the plant. They contribute to the frosty look of the buds. Trichomes are crucial for CBD production because they hold such high concentrations of the compound. On top of that, trichomes are rich in terpenes. This contributes to the aroma of hemp flowers and are responsible for some therapeutic properties of the plant.
Uses for hemp flowers
Hemp flowers harvested whole get consumed through smoking or get processed into CBD or CBG oil. Because CBD or CBG oil works in almost anything, that is how the majority of hemp flower harvests end up. From body lotions to energy drinks, lots of products utilize CBD and CBG oil for its health properties. Athletes often use CBD ointments to reduce inflammation in overworked joints, thanks to the anti-inflammatory compounds found in the plant’s terpenes.
In the past few years, research has ramped up on CBD-based medicine. Just recently, the FDA approved a CBD-based medicine meant to treat seizures. Another way people have found CBD useful is as a sleep aid. It may not only make it easier to fall asleep, but also make that sleep of a better quality.
Is hemp flower the next big thing?
Hemp flowers are an incredible thing in the botanical world. Some would even call them miraculous little buds! And, with the interest in CBD skyrocketing, any farmers interested in growing hemp for CBD are in a great spot right now. However, since it’s a newer industry, you may have questions about how to properly farm hemp. Arbor Vita8 specializes in helping first-time farmers from start to finish. We offer support and resources for everything from sourcing the right plants with the right genetics to guiding our farmers through harvesting and selling. Contact us today to learn more.