Medically Reviewed by
Jason Crawford

Article Last Updated on January 7, 2023

Indicas, Sativas, hybrids… the Cannabis genus is truly an abundant source of so many unique and aromatic strains that make you curious about their properties. Good-looking cannabis buds can be really eye-catching on the shelves in your dispensary, and can even be a deciding factor when you’re looking for something new to smoke. But do they indicate anything about the strain you’re about to buy? Its taste? Its potency?

The cannabis plant consists of many parts, among which the flowers are the superstars. Even if you’re not the type to notice details, you must have at least noticed how colorful marijuana nugs are, especially higher quality ones. 

One other common detail that weed enthusiasts often notice is the hairs present on marijuana buds. A lot of strains have tiny orange hairs that make them look exotic and make many users curious about them. If you’ve been wondering what exactly these hairs are, if they have any significant role, and what exactly this orange weed is all about, you’ve come to the right place.

The Flower Anatomy of the Marijuana Plant

Those tiny hairs are found on all cannabis buds, no matter what strain they belong to. But before we get into what the strange orange hairs are, we need to take a step back and do a short review of the flower anatomy of the marijuana plant.

Cannabis plants have many of the same structures that are also found on any other plant. However, the flowers of the flowering plants are a little more complex as this is where all the magic happens – you see orange hairs, frosty crystals, and tiny frosted leaves all in one place.

The Parts of the Plant

You don’t need to be a grower to be well-versed in the parts of the plant. Just knowing the basic parts would be enough background knowledge when you buy some buds.

  1. Nodes – the areas where the newly formed branches separate from the main stem. The buds and fan leaves grow on most nodes.
  2. Cola – a cola (or a “bud site”) is a cluster of buds that grow very closely together, usually at the lower branches. The main and largest cola is located at the top of the main stem.
  3. Bract – bracts are small, teardrop-shaped leaves that envelop the reproductive parts of the female plants. They are the sites from where the pre-flowers appear just before the flowering stage.
  4. Calyx – the flowers themselves. The calyx is enveloped by the bracts and it forms a protective layer for the reproductive organs of the plant. This is where the seeds are produced.
  5. Pistils – the pistils are the orange hairs that protrude from the calyxes. They are, in fact, the sex organs of the female plants, also called stigmas.
  6. Trichomes – the bulbous resin glands that produce frosty and sticky resin which contains cannabinoids (THC and CBD) and terpenes that give the flowers their aroma. The more resinous the flower, the higher the concentration of cannabinoids and terpenes.

So, What Exactly Is the Role of the Orange Hairs aka Pistils?

Now that we discovered what the orange hairs, or pistils, are, let’s talk a little bit more about them.

Since pistils are the sex organs of the female cannabis plant, their main role has to do with reproduction. They are there to collect pollen from the male plants during the flowering stage. Once pollen comes into contact with the pistils, they are pollinated or fertilized. This means that the female plant is ready to start producing new seeds.

However, growers remove the male plants from the growing field in order to prevent pollination so that the female plants can focus all of their energy on producing more flowers, instead of seeds. This leads to an overall increased cannabinoid and terpene production. This is why all the good quality buds you get at dispensaries are seedless, and therefore more potent.

Pistils or orange hairs actually aren’t always orange. In fact, they start out as white hairs during the vegetative stage, and as they get closer to the flowering stage, they start changing their color. First, they become yellowish and then they progress to orange. With maturation, some flowers develop more fiery orange hues that are closer to red or even brown. It all depends on the strain, but also on the way it was cultivated. The pistils on some strains may even turn pink or purple (eg. Purple Trainwreck, Purple Haze).

Does the Color of the Pistils Indicate the Potency of the Cannabis Plant?

It may seem like more colorful buds will pack a lot more punch and be very potent, but this isn’t the case. Pistils are obviously an essential part of the plant during the flowering stage, but they have nothing to do with a strain’s cannabinoid content

Instead, the trichomes are what you should be looking at. For reference, reg weed has very few trichomes, which is why it’s so low in THC. On the other side of the spectrum, dank weed is incredibly sticky and resinous, and even appears frosty due to the high resinous content, which makes it very potent.

For reference, the biological compounds responsible for the color of the hairs on the cannabis buds are called phytochemicals. The phytochemicals found in cannabis provide for the various colors of the pistils, depending on pH levels and intentional temperature changes on the part of the grower. 

The same phytochemicals are also found in fruits and vegetables, but unlike cannabis, these affect the color, taste, and aroma of the fruits and veggies. For cannabis, it only changes the color and nothing else. It’s the terpenes that are responsible for the taste and aroma of the buds.

Orange-Haired Cannabis Strains

If you’re in the mood for trying some vibrant orange strains, let us give you some suggestions.

  • Blue Dream is a popular Sativa strain. Its buds are in a cheerful green color and the hairs are bright orange. Blue Dream gives you a long-lasting and mellow cerebral high.
  • Strawberry Diesel is a pungent Sativa-dominant hybrid that naturally has a lot of trichomes and colorful orange hairs. It has a complex fruity flavor with an edge. It can get you high fast and mellow you out.
  • Blackberry Bubba Kush is an Indica-dominant hybrid with dark purple flowers and distinctly orange hairs. It has a piney aroma and an earthy taste. Blackberry Bubba Kush can give you a potent body high and is overall very relaxing.
  • Purple Urkle is a pure Indica strain with stout purple buds covered by long orange hairs. It smells skunky but it tastes fruity. It can be very intense, so it’s not for beginners.

Bottom Line

Seeing tiny hairs on cannabis buds may seem strange, but in reality, they are a vital part of the plant. Most strains will have orange hairs, though the color may vary a little depending on the strain and the cultivation. However, the orange hairs (aka pistils) aren’t indicators of the flowers’ potency. The best indicator of their potency would be the resinous trichomes – the more trichomes, the more potent the flowers.

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.


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