Cannabis Seed Anatomy

In this series, we hope to explain all the pertinent Cannabis plant facts at-a-glance. Start educating yourself on the Cannabis plant. The Anatomy of Cannabis As a cannabis grower and consumer , you’ve likely spent quite a bit of time gazing at the beauty of cannabis buds. In doing so, you’ve probably noticed the complexity of

Breaking Down the Cannabis Plant

We wanted to start our blog with some Cannabis plant basics. In this series, we hope to explain all the pertinent Cannabis plant facts at-a-glance. There is so much information and so much science out there and we aim to guide you through it all. In today’s information age, it’s hard to know where to start with educating yourself on the Cannabis plant. With our collective decades of experience, we decided it’s best to start from the beginning; the plant itself.

Cannabis is like every other plant. Its growth cycle starts from a seed, grows and matures over time, and ultimately flowers and then repeats the cycle until it dies. The flowers are the most desirable part of the growth process and it is no different for Cannabis. Once a cannabis plant flowers, those flowers produce resin glands that contain cannabinoids and terpenes. These flowers are what is being harvested and ultimately used or processed into different medicine and other consumable items. What we call flower, pop culture calls “bud,” “weed,” “ganja,” “pot,” etc.

Parts Of the Cannabis Plant

Flower

The flowers contain the CBD and terpenes that cause you to get high and give people a number of other benefits, interacting with the endocannabinoid system. Flowers only grow on the female plants. This is what is dried out and ground before being smoked.

The cola on the cannabis plant is a cluster of buds growing closely together, almost in a bunch. Small colas can be found up and down the low branches, but the main cola almost always sits at the top of the marijuana plant.

Pistil

The pistil is where the reproductive parts of the flower sit. They contain a lot of thin strands that look a bit like hair, called stigmas. They collect the pollen that is carried from male plants. The stigmas that can be found within are white when the plant is young but eventually turn yellow through the weed plant stages.

The pistil is all about the reproductive system of marijuana.

Bracts

The bracts are what can be found around the female’s reproductive area. They are green, with leaves in a sort of “tear shape”. They have a number of resin glands, that actually hold the highest number of cannabinoids within the marijuana plant.

Calyx

Inside the bracts, on the female cannabis plant, is the calyx. This is a see-through layer that protects the ovule. You can’t see it with the naked eye.

Trichomes

Trichomes are small but form an important part of marijuana anatomy. They make a crystal-like covering for the buds of the cannabis. Trichomes actually come from glands on the leaves, stems, and calyx of the female or male cannabis plant.

Trichomes protect the plant from anything in the wild that could harm them. They secrete terpenes and both CBD and THC.

The node is where a branch grows from the stem of the cannabis plant. Or where one branch stems off and creates another. Some nodes contain buds, but not all of them.

The nodes play an important role in the sexing of a cannabis plant and telling a male cannabis plant from a female cannabis plant. More on that later.

Fan leaves

If you see clothing or accessories with a cannabis leaf on them as decoration, this will be from the fan leaves. They actually just capture light and don’t have a lot of resin within them. On a cannabis Sativa plant, the leaves tend to be further apart and more sparse.

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Sugar leaves

Sugar leaves are where the resin is usually held. They’re small leaves where the buds form, and you can use them in a variety of cannabis products including pre-rolls, or to make THC and CBD extracts.

This is a term you’re probably familiar with. The stem is the same part of a cannabis plant as any other plant, and it gives structure and stability to the other parts of the marijuana plant.

The top of the stem can be cut off to encourage weed plant stages where the marijuana plant grows more branches and more buds.

How to tell male from female cannabis plants

To check the sex of a cannabis plant, you need some understanding of marijuana anatomy.

You should check in between the nodes. These are the parts of the marijuana plant where the branches spring off from a stem. On male plants, pollen sacs can be found here. On a female, stigma develops so they can catch the pollen.

You can see pre-flowers from around the fourth week of cannabis growth. In week six, it should definitely be clear what sex the plants are.

For a male marijuana plant, you’ll find small sacs growing. On females, you will find bracts on the cannabis plants. This is where the hairs that catch pollen will eventually start to grow.

How to propagate cannabis plants

There are numerous ways to propagate cannabis plants so that more will grow in the future.

Cloning

Cloning is not as daunting as it sounds. You don’t have to do it in the lab. This is where you take a cutting from a cannabis Indica or cannabis Sativa plant and put it in the ideal growing conditions in soil or hydroponics.

It’s relatively simple and reliable. It also means that you know what type of cannabis plant is going to grow, and you will have taken cuttings from a healthy “mother”. Cannabis clones are going to take all you liked about the mother plant and create another generation that grows in the same way.

Clones are delicate, and you need to get good at understanding an active vegetating cannabis plant so that you can make a clone, there is definitely a skill involved in picking the cutting, making the cutting itself, and replanting it. You probably won’t get it 100% right the first time around.

Seeds

Seeds don’t need you to grow from an initial plant, you can buy seeds and plant them just like you would any other plant, fruit, or vegetable. It takes a little longer for them to grow this way.

Seeds don’t always germinate, so there is a real art to growing your own marijuana using seeds.

One good thing about seeds is the fact that they haven’t been exposed to diseases or a bad growing environment. You can also buy feminized seeds if you want, which guarantee a certain percentage of female cannabis plants.

Another positive thing about seeds is that they can easily be shipped and transported, and you can buy a number of varieties of cannabis. You might even be able to germinate your own strands.

Whether you choose cannabis clones or growing from seeds, it doesn’t matter, as long as you make a point of becoming good at it. A lot of manufacturers prefer to use clones as it gives a much more consistent result, and allows you to know the properties of the plant that will grow.

The Anatomy of Cannabis

As a cannabis grower and consumer, you’ve likely spent quite a bit of time gazing at the beauty of cannabis buds. In doing so, you’ve probably noticed the complexity of the different parts that make up the structure of the cannabis plant. From the tiny trichomes to the fiery, orange hairs, a cannabis plant’s anatomy is truly a fascinating world of its own.

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We’ve put together this brief guide to understanding cannabis plant anatomy, giving an overview of the different features of the cannabis plant and functions they serve, so you can gain deeper knowledge as a cultivator.

First: Male vs Female Cannabis Plants

*Female left, male right*

There are male and female cannabis plants, as well as hermaphrodite plants – those of both genders. The male cannabis plants fertilize the female plants in order to start the production of seeds. The resin-emanating flowers produced by the female cannabis plants are trimmed down to buds by the cultivators, and these are the flowers that are dried into the nugs we smoke as consumers.

Most plants in nature don’t even have genders, whereas cannabis has male and female genders AND have the incredible ability to intersex- sometimes even midway through their life cycle.

These intersex plants present both male and female organs, making it possible to self-pollinate during the flowering stage. This is something you do NOT want, as this self-pollination contaminates seedless sinsemilla plants, the plants that produce highly potent flowers.

Understanding the Anatomy of Cannabis Plants

The flowers tend to hog the spotlight when it comes to the cannabis plant, primarily because they are what is consumed the most – or used to create extracts and concentrates. Even though the flowers have their important role, every part of the cannabis plant anatomy plays a salient role in giving those cannabis flowers their unique and sought-after characteristics.

A cluster of buds tightly grown together. The main cola (apical bud) forms at the top of the cannabis plant. Smaller colas are found on budding sites of the plant’s lower branches.

Stigma & Pistil

Stigmas are the vibrantly colored, wispy strands found on the pistil, which is what houses a flower’s reproductive organs. The stigma’s purpose is to collect pollen from the male cannabis plants. They change color throughout the plant’s growth cycle, starting out white and deepening over time, eventually becoming yellow, orange, tan, red, or even pink and purple. Stigmas play a significant role in the reproductive cycle, yet do not significantly affect the taste, aroma, or potency of the flower.

The roots of the cannabis plant are the foundation for its growth and essential for cultivating a healthy plant with desirable flowers. There are three main functions of the cannabis plant root system: anchoring the plant within the substrate, hydrating and feeding the plant nutrition through microbial relationships, and storing carbohydrates and glucose produced by photosynthesis.

The taproot is the first bit that emerges from a germinated cannabis seed. The taproot grows down into the soil, where it searches for nutrients and water to help promote growth. After the taproot has sufficiently spread, fibrous roots begin to branch off from the taproot to create an underground system of roots. Finally, thick adventitious roots branch off the cannabis plant’s stem, allowing growers to reproduce and clone plants.

Root Crown

The Root Crown, also known as the collar or neck of the cannabis plant, is formed when the stem and the roots adhere to one another. The crown divides the upward and downward growth, where the vascular system of the plant switches from the stem to the roots, and is where the most significant portion of the cannabis plant cell division takes place. The root crown is an essential part of the cannabis plant anatomy, and generally rests near the surface of the soil, where aeration is at maximum levels. It can also be transplanted and anchored deeper below the ground to encourage more adventitious roots to generate.

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Flowers

Male staminate cannabis flowers look a lot like small, green balls on skewers, and are composed of five male petals. These petals open up to produce pollen-producing stamens that release pollen, leading to the death of the male plant. The male cannabis flowers contains lower levels of terpenes and cannabinoids than their female counterparts.

The female pistillate flowers grow into tight clusters and, once pollinated, the cannabis plant will devote all of its energy to producing seeds. These seeded buds contain lower levels of terpenes and cannabinoids, which is why cannabis growers want to cultivate seedless sinsemilla flowers.

Bract and Calyx

The bract is what holds a female cannabis plant’s reproductive organs. They resemble green, tear-drop-shaped leaves, and the bract is covered in resin-filled glands that produce higher concentrations of cannabinoids than any other part of the cannabis plant anatomy. The bract also holds the calyx, a translucent layer covering the ovule on the cannabis flower’s base. This cannot typically be seen, as it is tucked far inside the bract.

Trichome

Trichomes are very, very small in size, but you can easily seen the shiny coating of crystal-like resin covering a cannabis bud. Secreted out through mushroom-shaped, translucent glands that cling to the stems, leaves, and calyxes of the cannabis plant. This resin is often referred to as kief after it has dried and has been knocked off the flowers. Trichomes are responsible for protecting the plant against environmental factors and predators. They release terpenes and cannabinoids, and it is their production that makes hash production possible.

Stalk and Nodes

The stalk of the cannabis plant is what keeps the growth upright and supports the weight of the plant. It also houses the vascular system that transports nutrients and moisture from the roots to the leaves via xylem cells. It moves starches and sugars from photosynthesis processes around the inside of the plant for utilization or storage through phloem cells. These are the cells that get harvested for the hemp fibers. The stalk is divided up by nodes, and the seedlings grow opposite pairs of leaves and nodes in the beginning, but then begin to grow alternatively, as the plant grows in size.

The Seed

The seed is where everything is born. A mature, healthy cannabis plant seed is round, with one flatter end and one pointed end. It has a hard, tough outer casing that prevents the seed from becoming damaged. A seam runs down the side of the housing that opens during the germination stage.

Cannabis plant seeds vary greatly in size, and can have three to thirteen serrated, veined leaflets.

Leaves and Petioles

The plants have both small and large leaves that grow in a fan shape, which are removed during harvesting. Leaflets conjoin and adhere to the branch or stalk by a leaf-steam called a petiole. These also vary in length and color, depending on the variety and health of the cannabis plant.

Admiring the Beauty of the Cannabis Plant Anatomy

It’s so easy to become enchanted by the stunning flowers of a cannabis plant, but it’s also important to give attention to the rest of the cannabis plant anatomy and the hard work the these parts do to produce the buds we all love to puff on. Learning more about the cannabis plant growth process and what helps it to thrive enables you as a cultivator to better hone your skills and grow the best possible buds you can get out of each cannabis plant in your garden.