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Anatomy of a Cannabis Plant

Tell the difference between male and female cannabis plants, describing the anatomy of each one.

Plants are an amazing part of life. They provide us with food and medicine, materials for goods,  helping us improve the quality of our lives. They even live a life of their own. The cannabis plant is one of many amazing plants on Earth, both medicine and food, with a long list of material applications. With so many uses, have you ever wondered what the different parts of a cannabis plant are? Well, you’re about to find out as we dive into the anatomy of the cannabis plant! 

To start, there are male and female cannabis plants. Female cannabis plants produce the cannabis flowers you’re familiar with. These are the smokable flowers you can purchase at dispensaries. They are the same flowers used to make concentrates that are consumed by themselves, or incorporated into other cannabis products. 

Male cannabis plants produce pollen. They are typically unwanted in cannabis grows because their pollen can impregnate female cannabis plants, causing their flowers to fill out with seeds. Sometimes growers want to impregnate the female cannabis plants so they can have seeds, or even to cross breed two strains. Cross breeding is when you use the pollen from one strain of male cannabis to impregnate a different strain of female cannabis, resulting in a new strain.

Other than their reproductive systems, the anatomy of male and female plants aren’t very different. They look similar, with one center stalk in the middle that other satellite branches grow out from. The colas of the plant are the dense groupings of flower that grow on their own branches. The largest cola is usually on top of the center stalk, while lower branches tend to have smaller groupings of flowers. 

Then there’s sugar leaves and fan leaves. Sugar leaves are smaller than fan leaves. They grow very close to the flower with buds growing around them, and are usually covered in sugar like crystals, hence the name. Those sugar like crystals are actually trichomes. Trichomes are the almost microscopic glands that give cannabis flowers their frosty look. If you have the chance, take a look at your cannabis flower in good light through a magnifying glass or jewelers loop and you’ll see them. Filled with cannabinoids and terpenes, these trichomes are also what can make cannabis flower sticky to the touch. 

The small orange and other colored hairs on the end of the cannabis flowers are called stigmas. They start out white and darken as the plant matures. The purpose of the stigma is to collect pollen. They are part of the pistil, which contains the plant’s reproductive parts.

Some cannabis plants can have both male and female reproductive organs. These are called hermaphrodite plants. This can happen to the plant as a result of stress or genetics, and these “hermied” plants are usually removed once discovered. 

As you can see, there really isn’t much difference between male and female cannabis plants, except for their reproductive systems. It’s mostly important to know the difference if you’re growing cannabis, but it’s nice to know as a patient too. You never know what might come up in trivia. 

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