Ellen’s Bud Break: Flowers for Dark Days


We’re in the midst of winter 2024, and these are dark days in many ways. I want these flowers to reach the world on the magnitude and scale of an upbeat Ed Sheeran song, to be so full of pop that dance is irresistible. 

Granny Candy 
Bred by Humboldt Seed Company

Granny Candy, cultivated by Terp Mansion. Photo Erik Christiansen.

I first encountered Granny Candy on the first leg of the epic multi-day 2023 pheno hunt hosted by Humboldt Seed Company (HSC). The cannabis cultivation adventure took place in Humboldt County, the top of the trinity that makes up The Emerald Triangle—northern California’s famed cannabis-growing region. In a sort of dreamlike state cooked by the heat of the summer sun, many joints, and a few ice-cold beers, two fellow weed documentarians told me to hit a top row on the terraced hillside at Full Moon Farms. I’d know the particular plant they liked right away, they said, both smiling through the mannerisms of their entire body. 

The cannabis plant was easy to find. The intensely sweet fresh fruit aroma wafting off the flowers on this pot growing under the sun was transcendent. Its smell embodied the inspiration for Granny Candy’s name, a throwback to childhood days of eating the hard candies wrapped to look like strawberries, biting down to get straight to the rush of sugar at the chewy center. A stunning specimen of stacked trichomes, the leaves on this plant were frosted over and folded inward in such a way that HSC’s Product Executive Halle Pennington called them “terp tacos.”

Initially discovered with Errl Hill, the proprietors of Fire Mountain Farms, as a part of HSC’s 2020 pheno hunt, Granny Candy is a cross of Mountaintop Mint with White Runtz Muffin (White Runtz mixed with HSC’s signature strain, Blueberry Muffin). To produce the Granny Candy seeds, one plant out of 600 samples was developed and refined, including two years spent exclusively with the growers at Terp Mansion.

“We were just sort of experimenting with all kinds of crosses of White Runtz because Jason [Gellman] of Ridgeline had just won The Emerald Cup with it,” HSC founder and CEO Nat Pennington explains. “We’ve been breeding with candy terpenes for a long time, and this one not only encompasses that genre but has unreal frost, unreal production.”

Today, I’m soaking up the pockets of sunshine between California’s winter rainstorms and traveling back to the heady days of summer with the dried and cured Granny Candy flowers. The buds look green with purple at the tips and smell like not-quite-ripe strawberries and cooked pineapple with herbaceous hints of mint and a bit of cream. When the flowers are ground, the aroma also has the tiniest hint of fuel.

She might be sweet, but don’t underestimate Granny! With a candy-floss taste, the potent stone of this strain is a creeper. Granny Candy doesn’t reek of the gas smell and flavor profile in weed but comes on strong and can reach up to 32% THC. 

Neon Panther 
Bred and grown by Moon Valley Cannabis

Photo by Kandid Kush

Grown indoors in living soil, the strains from Moon Valley remind me of walking in the French Quarter in New Orleans with a go-cup in hand. Sweet and fruity, these flowers hit just about as hard as a bright red rum-spiked punch topped with a maraschino cherry and just might lead to mid-day bouts of dancing.

Scientific research shows that the microorganisms found in soil can play a role in boosting the aromas, flavors, and effects of cannabis. Very unscientific studies I’ve been conducting by ripping Neon Panther through a Jerome Baker bong have convinced me the research is accurate; Moon Valley’s weed is intensely flavorful and super stoney. 

With a leap into California’s legal market in 2021, Moon Valley Cannabis has already been on a bit of a tear through the cannabis awards circuit—including a first-place flower win with Big Al Exotics’s Hawaiian Snowcone in Jimi Devine and Chronic Culture’s 2023 Transbay Challenge V. 

Neon Panther is the first strain that Moon Valley has bred. It’s a generational cross of Blueberry Muffin, Sticky Papaya, Pink Runtz, and Super Boof. The dried and cured buds have the colors of American camouflage, replacing the black parts in camouflage with a dark purple. When the flowers are ground, purple expresses itself, making the buds look like dried lavender. Neon Panther has an intense citrus bouquet and tastes like a fruit punch. Pow!

Tiramisu 
Bred and Grown by Moon Gazer Farms

A Koffee x Razzleberry cross, Tiramisu from the regenerative cannabis cultivators behind Moon Gazer Farms smells like a summer picnic. The nose on these flowers is berries paired with a soft brie cheese. The buds are dense and green, and the hit tastes creamy and fruity, like a cream cheese danish with jam. 

Tiramisu is a sungrown selection from the 2023 harvest grown in Mendocino County, California. It’s well-cured and smokes smoothly. 

Breeder Kaya from Pacific NW Roots created Koffee (Alien OG x Alien Kush). The other part of this strain’s lineage, Razzleberry, combines Ice Cream Cake, Glazed Cherries from Green Source Gardens and Blackdog Kush from Biovortex





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