At KYND, we spend a lot of time up close and personal with the cannabis plant. That makes sense — we’re cultivators! But we actually think that anyone who enjoys consuming cannabis should have some idea of plant anatomy. You know the basics about your favorites fruits and vegetables, right? Same goes for cannabis. And to help you out, we’re doing a little cannabis plant 101. But don’t worry, we’ll keep it simple.
No Botany Degree Necessary
This is a broad overview of cannabis — kind of a top-down look. First, let’s talk gender. Cannabis plants can be female, male, or hermaphrodites, and it’s the females who rule. In cannabis breeding programs, we need male plants to pass along desired traits like health, growth rate, and overall hardiness. But when we’re talking flowers, that’s the job of the female plants.
The stems, nodes and that iconic fan-shaped leaf make up the plant structure. The main stem grows vertically, and it serves as a sort of highway for nutrients from the roots as well as a support system for symmetrical branching. The nodes grow from this main stem. And here’s a little something for trivia night — the internode spacing, which is the spacing between branches, is tighter in indica-dominant plants than in sativas.
The symmetry in cannabis extends to the fan leaves themselves. They grow in pairs from the main stem and the leaf nodes, and they’re another indication of plant variety. Light green, long and lean? That’s often a sign of sativa varieties. Dark, wide leaves mean indica. Hybrids are a mix of the two.
That incredible flowering top on the female plant is called the cola. While the buds may initially to be a mix of small leaves and sticky resin, look a little closer and you’ll be able to pick out teeny clusters — the individual cannabis buds called calyxes. They come in all different sizes, shapes, and colors. In female plants, the calyx has a pistil growing out each side. It looks like hair, and its role is to capture pollen from male plants. If no pollen is forthcoming, the female plants focus solely on flower production.
The calyxes will become a protective cover for seed growth if a plant is fertilized, and if it isn’t, they’ll become a rich source of trichomes. And that’s important stuff. These teeny resin glands, which look like tiny, translucent globes the coat the flower in that crystal-like frost, secrete cannabinoids and terpenes.
That’s pretty much it in a nutshell! Keep this post handy, and you’ll be able to identify the anatomy of a living cannabis plant like the pros.