Imagine this. A friend gave you some bud. You smoked it and ended up loving it. You ask her what cannabis strain it was so you could get some more, but she doesn’t know. What are you going to do? How are you ever going to find that same fire herb again? You need to know how to identify strains.
Figuring out how to identify strains can be a tricky process. There are over 650 strains, and that number is constantly growing as breeders create new ones.
Clearly, sifting through all these possibilities to find one precise strain is going to take some work. Fortunately, there are a few key things you can do to narrow it down.
We’re going to walk you through a step-by-step process for identifying strains. This process will move from the moment you first see your mystery nugs to the time you’ve finally finished up a smoke session.
Shape And Size
The first place to start is by looking at the shape and size of the buds. This is a helpful way to start figuring out if you’ve got an indica, sativa, or hybrid.
Indica strains tend to produce buds that are dense, heavy, and tightly packed. They will look short and stubby.
On the other hand, sativa strains produce flowers that tend to be long and narrow. They are typically less densely packed than Indica.
Any attempt to identify strains should start here. If you’re looking at short, dense buds you know to limit your search to pure indicas or indica-dominant hybrids. And if you have longer, thinner, lankier buds you can focus your investigation on sativas and sativa-dominant hybrids.
Already, in one quick glance, you have significantly narrowed down the range of possibilities.
Most cannabis strains will produce buds that are some shade of green. And while that means that in a lot of cases, color won’t tell you a whole lot, you should still take a second to look at the color of your herb.
If your bud has purple in it, that narrows down your search big time. Purple shows up in strains like Purple Haze, Purple Kush, and Grandaddy Purple. If you see purple, direct your attention to strains like these.
Some strains produce buds with yellow and orange hues. If you see these colors in your herb, you could have something like Kandy Skunk, Alien OG, Grapefruit, or Lemon Kush.
There are also a few strains that grow reddish buds and even black buds. Red strains could be something along the lines of Predator Pink or Pink Flower Shaman. And if you have black-tinted bud, there is a good chance you’re dealing with something derived from a Vietnamese strain.
Environmental factors can also impact color, so you can’t always use it as a surefire identifier. But noting color can still help you narrow down your search by pointing you in a more specific direction.
Smell And Taste
Now that you’ve inspected the appearance of the buds, it’s time to start breaking them apart. As you do, pay attention to the smell they give off. And when you start puffing, take note of the flavors in the smoke or vapor as well.
Here are some of the most distinct smells to look for. This list is by no means exhaustive. But it is a helpful starting place for trying to narrow down your efforts to identify strains.
If the herb smells skunky, you could have either a Skunk strain or a hybrid with a strong Skunk component.
Some strains smell like cheese. Notable ones include Blue Cheese and UK Cheese.
There’s a whole class of cannabis strains that smell and taste citrusy. Usually, the names of these strains also include some reference to citrus. If your buds smell and taste at all citrusy, direct your attention to strains like Tangie, Tangerine Man, Lemon Kush, Lemon OG, or Grapefruit.
Another big category for cannabis strains is those that have sour smells and flavors. If you’re picking up on strong sour notes, start thinking about strains like Sour Diesel, Sour Jack, and Sour Kush.
At this point in the process, you’ve handled the herb, you’ve broken it apart, you’ve smelled it, and you’ve tasted its terpenes. Throughout each of these steps, you have been narrowing down the list of possibilities.
Now that you’ve finished up your sesh and the high is setting in, the final step in identifying strains is to pay attention to the effects the unknown strain produces.
If you are feeling an intense head high with very little body effects, odds are you’ve got a pure indica or a hybrid that is heavily weighted toward the indica side.
On the other hand, if you feel mentally stimulated or spaced out, and your body is not that affected, you could have a pure sativa or a sativa-dominant hybrid.
And finally, if you are experiencing a well-balanced high that affects your head and body equally you probably have a hybrid that’s pretty evenly split between indica and sativa.
The Final Hit
The effects a strain produces should help seal the deal when you are trying to identify strains.
When you add up the shape and size of a nug, the color of the bud, its scent and flavor profiles, and the effects it produces, you have a pretty limited range of what your mystery strain might be.
All this will help point you in a very particular direction. If you’ve got fat nugs that smell and taste earthy and that leave you couch locked, you can be fairly certain you’ve got an indica, and probably some sort of Kush strain.
Similarly, let’s say you just smoked bud that had long, thin buds, that smelled and tasted citrusy, and that gave you a cerebral high. You probably have a sativa strain, and quite possibly something along the lines of Super Lemon Haze or something similar.
In the end, identifying strains is a process of continually narrowing down the range of possibilities. Key variables such as size, shape, smell, taste, and effects help move you closer and closer to figuring out a precise strain.
And even if you don’t figure out the exact strain you just enjoyed, this process will get you close enough that you can approximate the experience again in the future.