Medically Reviewed by
Jason Crawford

Article Last Updated on January 8, 2023

The part of the marijuana plant that most users are interested in is the cannabis flower, while other parts of the plant that aren’t as popular as the flower are usually disregarded. But did you know that these parts also contain cannabinoids and can be used to make cannabis products? 

One of them is the marijuana leaf, or fan leaves, which are the green leaves that develop during the vegetative growth phase. Their primary function is absorbing light and converting it into energy, in other words – photosynthesis and transpiration. Cannabis leaves are also important for the identification of cannabis strains (Blue Dream, Pineapple Express, Trainwreck weed, and others) and cannabis types (cannabis Sativa, cannabis Indica, cannabis Ruderalis). The marijuana leaf can not only be used to make medical marijuana products, but it can also be used by recreational users as it contains cannabinoids.

In a previous article, we’ve covered the subject of how many leaves you can find on a cannabis plant. This article will answer the ‘how many leaves are on a pot leaf’ question, so read on.

The Pot Leaf

The marijuana leaf is an essential part of the cannabis plant as it’s responsible for the photosynthesis and growth of the plant. The cannabis plant has two types of pot leaves: sugar leaves and fan leaves. The former are small trichome-covered cannabis leaves that are clustered around the plant and have a significant cannabinoid content. The latter are large leaves that contain smaller amounts of trichomes and are useful for determining the type of cannabis plant you’re growing.                 

The Marijuana Leaf

The marijuana leaf is one of the main parts of the cannabis plant that’s quite versatile. That being said, not all cannabis leaves are the same. Sativa leaves are different from Indica leaves, and we’ll tell you why.

The Sativa Leaf

Cannabis Sativa leaves are long, pointy, and slender with 13 spiky fingers which can be colored in different variations of green, depending on the plant. The leaves do have psychoactive properties, although they contain fewer cannabinoids than the flower. The leaves from female plants have more THC while the leaves of male plants are higher in CBD. 

The Indica Leaf

If Sativa leaves are long and slender, cannabis Indica leaves are wider, fan-like, shorter, and have 6 to 9 fingers which are a deep shade of green, indicating high chlorophyll content. In the past, cannabis Indica plants were grown in India for their medicinal properties.

The Ruderalis Leaf

The Ruderalis species is native to eastern Europe and preferred by the Russians and Mongols as a way to treat depression. Cannabis Ruderalis leaves have 5 to 13 fingers which are similar to Indica leaves, but are shorter and bushier. The main difference between a Ruderalis leaf and an Indica leaf is that the former is narrower and smaller compared to the latter.

Ruderalis plants mainly grow in the wild and have a lower THC content compared to other cannabis species. Since Ruderalis plants are mostly autoflowering, growers are trying to crossbreed them with Indica plants to create new strains which require less amount of light and have shorter growing seasons.

The Wild Weed Leaf 

Apart from the three general types of weed leaves, you can find various wild leaf variations of the cannabis plant which are generally a result of mutation. Those are:

  • The webbed marijuana leaf like the Ducksfoot which was initially bred in the days of cannabis prohibition to mask the plant since the fingers of the leaf mesh together and resemble the footprint of a duck.
  • The whorled marijuana leaf is characterized by a growth of three or four leaves from an internode compared to regular cannabis leaves which grow in patterns of two.
  • The Australian bastard marijuana leaf has hairless leaflets which are shorter than the standard marijuana leaf.

How to Tell if Your Marijuana Leaf Is Sick?

Growing a healthy plant is the dream of every marijuana grower and the leaves of the plant are the best indicator of whether your plant is thriving or withering. They will show if your plant has a nutrient deficiency, is overwatered or underwatered, and whether it’s infested by pests. The common nutrient deficiencies include:

  • Boron deficiency (a marijuana leaf that has brown or gray spots);
  • Magnesium deficiency (yellow leaves and dry edges);
  • Nitrogen deficiency (yellow leaves and slowed growth rate);
  • Phosphorus deficiency (purple hues on your larger leaves);
  • Potassium deficiency (burnt  leaves with curled up brown tips);
  • Molybdenum deficiency (marijuana leaves with brown edges and orange hues in the center).

Avoiding Nutrient Deficiencies, Overwatering and Underwatering

Taking care of your cannabis plants requires you to constantly check the humidity levels and temperature levels, light exposure, and add high-quality substrates and supplements. Adding compost and fertilizer may be beneficial to your plants, however, you need to provide optimal amounts of it to stimulate new growth without over-fertilizing. 

Before you start growing your weed plants, it would be a good idea to do your research and figure out the right types of nutrients and the appropriate amounts. If you want to know how to feed your cannabis plants, our guide on feeding your plants may be useful.

Overwatering and underwatering is also a problem when growing cannabis plants. The former can cause droopy plants that curl down toward the stems, which indicates that your plants are starving for oxygen. If this is the case, refrain from adding water, poke holes in the soil to give your plants enough oxygen, and give them enough time to get back on track. The latter will result in dry leaf tips, slowed growth, and wilted leaves which signal you to add water more frequently.

Final Words on Pot Leaves and What to Do With Them

Weed leaves have different variations depending on the type of cannabis plant you’re growing. Sativa leaves have 13 spiky fingers, Indicas have 6 to 9, Ruderalis 5 to 13, and wild leaf variations are a whole other story. 

The leaves of your cannabis plant are a perfect indicator of the health of your weed plants given that they tell you whether your plant has adequate amounts of nutrients, water, light, and humidity.

This part of the plant can also be used to make different cannabis products like cannabutter and tea, as well as topical lotions and creams. Pot leaves can also be used in juices, added to smoothies along with your favorite fruits and vegetables, or infused in oils and salad dressings. The options are limitless, all that’s needed is a bit of creativity and experimentation on your part.    

A passionate advocate for the benefits of cannabis. Fraser Horton, who has a background in botany and a strong love of nature, has spent years researching how cannabis affects the body and mind. He established Leaf Nation in 2020, where he has devoted himself to educating people about the legalisation of marijuana and its safe and responsible use. Fraser is committed to highlighting cannabis’ potential for improving wellness and working to dispel the stigma associated with its use.


The information presented on this page is provided as a public service to aid in education and is derived from sources believed to be reliable. Readers are responsible for making their own assessment of the topics discussed here. In no event shall Leaf Nation be held reliable for any injury, loss or damage that could happen if using or abusing drugs.