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Identifying Unlabelled Cannabis: Can It Be Done?

Identifying Unlabelled Cannabis: Can It Be Done?

By Grow How

Until lately, there was a strong chance that most of the cannabis you’ve bought in your lifetime came in a completely unmarked baggie. What’s more, ask the supplier what it is they’re supplying and they’ll either have no idea or feed you a bunch of garbage.

Unless you grew your own therefore, you could have been blazing pretty much anything.

The question being – is it possible to identify unlabelled cannabis, simply by taking into account its characteristics? Can you build a rough picture of the cannabis strain in your hand, without having any real idea where it came from?

Short answer…sort of.

Shape and Size

For example, the best place to start is to determine whether you’re looking at an indica or sativa strain. As a rule of thumb, short and stubby buds that are dense and tightly packed are usually indicas. By contrast, longer and narrower flowers that aren’t quite as dense are probably sativas. Although there are hundreds of hybrids out there to make the whole thing all the more confusing.


The green elements of the bud won’t tell you a great deal, but any other accents of colour could prove helpful.

For example, in the case of strains like Purple Urkle, Purple Haze, Purple Kush, and Grandaddy Purple, you’re almost guaranteed to see notes of purple on the flowers. By contrast, strains including Kandy Skunk, Alien OG, Grapefruit, Lemon Kush and so on present orange and yellow tones.

If there are any hints of black in the bud, you could be looking at something Vietnamese.

Taste and Smell

Before getting down to business and trying it out, give the buds a good, long whiff and see what kinds of qualities you pick up on. For obvious reasons, if the flowers have a predominantly skunky aroma, you’re no doubt looking at some variation of skunk.

Fragrances with notes of fuel or chemicals may be variations of popular diesel strains, while anything particularly earthy and dank probably contains a certain amount of kush. Of course, if there’s a distinct fragrance of cheese coming from your cannabis, it could be anything from UK Cheese to Blue Cheese to Head Cheese etc.

Citrus notes emanating from cannabis buds don’t give a great deal away, given that there are dozens of popular strains - Tangie, Tangerine Man, Lemon Kush, Lemon OG, Grapefruit – that smell delightfully citrusy. The same also goes for berry notes, which are characteristic of legendary strains like Blueberry, Fruity Pebbles and Strawberry Cough.

The High

When the time it comes to burn those buds, you should already have a decent idea as to what it is you’re dealing with. Contrary to popular belief, the actual smoking part of the investigative process probably isn’t going to narrow things down too much. Not unless you’re already completely familiar with the precise effects of pretty much every cannabis strain known to man.

If it’s an indica strain you’re smoking, you’ll almost immediately feel an intense head rush with little to no effects on your body whatsoever. By contrast, the kind of high that hits your body from head to toe but doesn’t have a huge impact on your mind is most likely a pure or predominant sativa. Hybrids combine both effects in varying levels of severity, in accordance with the strain in question.

So once again, the answer to the question as to whether you can really identify unlabelled cannabis:

You can, but only to limited extent. Some seasoned cannabis aficionados may tell you they can spot and identify any strain from a mile away, but in reality, it may be more of a ball-park thing.

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