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Understanding hemp flower

hemp oil
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If you are new to CBD hemp flowers, the number of strains available can be overwhelming. Choosing the right one for you often feels like a shot in the dark. The best way to deal with the overwhelm is to educate yourself on what makes one strain different from the next.

What are hemp flowers?

The hemp plant is a variety of the Cannabis Sativa L plant. Biologically, both hemp and marijuana are classified as cannabis. They share some characteristics, but their chemical composition is quite different.

Hemp plants are bred specifically to have less than 0.3 percent of the cannabinoid THC. If the THC content is over that amount, then that hemp crop is marijuana in legal terms. So, through selective breeding, hemp strains hardly contain any THC. Instead, they are rich in other Cannabinoids. The most popular of which is CBD, but there are several other cannabinoids present in hemp flowers.

Hemp flower comes from the female hemp plant. Male plants also produce buds, but they are full of seeds and thus undesirable. Most farmers plant feminized seeds so they can maximize their yield without having to worry about pollination. If feminized seeds are not used, male plants must be removed. The goal is for the buds of the female plant to be completely seedless.

Truly seedless hemp strains are typically grown indoors or in greenhouses. It is way easier to control growing conditions with these growing methods. Strains grown outdoors can end up getting pollinated by nearby male plants as well as male plants within the farmer’s lot. This is how you get buds with seeds in them.

Hemp farmers are all about selective breeding. This is how there are dozens of different strains of the same plant. Each strain has its unique growing conditions, vegetation cycle, flowering cycle, and harvest time.

Strains fall into three categories: Sativa, Indica, and Hybrid. Sativa plants grow tall and thin. They can reach 20 feet when grown outside. The leaves are light green, with a long and narrow shape. Indica plants are short and wide, usually ranging between 3 feet and 6 feet in height. The leaves have a wide, short shape and are dark green.

Hybrid plants are produced by selectively breeding two different strains. One strain is an Indica and another is Sativa. These plants are created to produce strains that combine the desirable characteristics of both of their parents. Hybrid strains have a unique appearance, growing, and harvesting process that depends on the characteristics of their parents.

Now that you understand the basics of hemp flower, you need to learn about terpenes.

What are hemp terpenes?

Terpenes are what give hemp strains their smell, taste, and appearance. They are essential oils produced by the plant during the flowering process. You have experienced terpenes in your everyday life if you have ever eaten a fruit or vegetable.

There are over 20,000 terpenes produced in the plant world. Over 100 of these are present in the cannabis plant. The same terpenes are present in both hemp and marijuana. This is why a hemp strain smells very similar to its sister marijuana strain of the same name.

There are a handful of terpenes found in particularly high concentrations within cannabis plants. Here are just some of them you should familiarize yourself with.


Humulene has an earthy, woody aroma with hints of spiciness. It can also give strains a hop-like scent under certain terpene combinations.


Caryophyllene has a woody, spicy scent that gives strains an aroma similar to black pepper and cinnamon.


Linalool smells like lavender combined with citrus. It is found in many of the strains that have fruit in their name.


As the name suggests, pinene is what gives pine trees their distinctive smell. Many hemp strains have at least some pinene in their terpene profile.


Limonene has a sour, citrus-like smell. It is the major compound in citrus peels. Strains with any citrus fruit in their name have a higher than average concentration of limonene.


Myrcene smells like a combination of cloves and red grapes. It provides an aroma that is a nice blend of sweet and spicy.

Selecting a strain of hemp flower

Now let’s combine the two topics we talked about to create a framework for selecting a hemp flower strain.

The first step is to decide if you prefer Indica, Sativa, or hybrid. This really can only come from trial and error to nail down your preference.

The second step is to look at the terpene profile. Let’s use Sour Tsunami as an example. The main terpenes present are myrcene and caryophyllene.

Myrcene has a spicy and sweet aroma while caryophyllene has a spicy and earthy aroma. This Sativa-dominant strain has Sour Diesel as a parent, so the Sour Tsunami Strain has that sweet, earthy smell of diesel fuel.

Think of the smells in the natural world that you like, and then look for a strain with a similar terpene profile.

Now you have a tool to help you select a strain of hemp flower with confidence.

Story by Jen Reaney

augusta free press
augusta free press