CANNABIS PLANT ANATOMY
Cannabis is dioecious, meaning it comes from separate male and female plants. Growing from a seed, cannabis can take on the following forms: female, sinsemilla, male, and hermaphrodite.
Female and sinsemilla
Female cannabis plants produce the large buds and flowers of marijuana. They contain pistils, the plants primary sex organ, and resin which collects pollen from male cannabis plants. When pollen fertilizes the female plant, seed is produced. If the female plant is kept away from pollen, more resin is produced; unfertilized females, known as sinsemilla, create a frosty layer of trichomes desired by the growers and consumers. Sinsemilla is much more potent than fertilized flowers because of their increased trichome production.
Male cannabis plants produce pollen sacks that blossom into flowers when they reach maturity. They are not as potent as female plants, but do contain cannabinoids. Pollen fertilizes the bud of a female plant and contains genetic material used to breed new strains of marijuana with specific traits over time. Pollinating a female plant creates seeds with genetic material from both the mother and father plant, leading to more genetic variation and a stronger cannabis species (clones of female plants are prone to genetic weakness over time).
A hermaphrodite is a plant that develops both female and male parts. This usually occurs when females have gone a long time without pollination or experience stress during growth.
VISUAL COMPONENTS OF THE CANNABIS PLANT
The cannabis plant is made up of several structural parts, many of which can be found on any ordinary flowering plant.
Stigma and Pistil
Pistils contain the reproductive parts of the flower. Stigmas are the vibrant, hair-like strands of the pistil that collect pollen from males. They are only found on female plants and capture pollen from male plants by curling or bending toward male plants. Pistils are a grower’s best tool for differentiating between a male and female plant.
A cola is the flowering top of a female cannabis plant where the bud develops. Colas grow vertically toward the ends of major branches where the buds receive the most light. Healthy plants grow one main cola at the top of the cannabis plant, and form smaller colas around the rest of the plant. Dried cannabis flower is the cola.
Fan leaves grow in pairs off of the main stem and branches. Fan leaves help to differentiate sativa versus indica plants: sativas have light green and slender leaves while indicas have dark green, wide leaves. Fan leaves soak up light and transport energy throughout the plant via the phloem.