Parts of the cannabis plant
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- Types of weed plants
- How to tell male from female marijuana plants
- How to propagate cannabis plants
Cannabis grows in a variety of climates around the world and can be used in many applications: rope, biofuel, paper, and many medical and recreational uses. The plant is part of the Cannabaceae family, which also includes hops. It is further classified as Cannabis sativa L . Each part of the plant serves a purpose and while the whole of a cannabis plant is certainly greater than the sum of its parts, knowing its parts can inform your experience and appreciation of it. Below are descriptions of each of the plant’s parts and the functions they perform.
Each part of the cannabis plant serves a purpose.
The flowers of the female marijuana plant can be identified by their small teardrop structures, which consist of pistils attached to bracts. Cannabis flowers are usually covered with a frosty-looking coating of trichomes, with a heavier density of trichomes making for a more desirable flower.
The main part of the flower, at the end of a female plant’s stem is composed of many small floral clusters. In general, the bigger, heavier, and more densely covered in trichomes a cola is, the better quality it will be, although some cultivars will naturally grow flowers that are more loosely structured and airy.
The small leaves that surround the reproductive cells of a female weed plant. When a female plant is exposed to pollen from a male marijuana plant, the bracts surround and shield the seed pod.
Marijuana trichomes are hairlike appendages found on the surface of the cannabis plant. Trichomes protect the plant from external stressors and contain resinous glands that create flavonoids, cannabinoids and terpenes — the chemical compounds that give the marijuana plant its unique features and effects. Trichomes give cannabis buds a crystal-like sheen and make them sticky feeling.
Within the glandular trichomes, there are three main types: bulbous, capitate-sessile and capitate-stalked.
Non-glandular trichomes are called cystoliths. Bulbous trichomes are tiny bulbs that are sparsely located throughout the entire plant, but are so small they can’t be seen with the naked eye. Capitate-sessile trichomes are more abundant than bulbous trichomes, found on the underside of the sugar leaves and fan leaves, but are usually only visible through a microscope. Capitate-stalked trichomes are shaped like mushrooms and contain a large trichome head at the top of the stalk. These are the trichomes that can be easily seen on the cannabis flower surface.
The point at which the stem and leaf intersect. Nodes can hold one or more leaves or offshoots. As explained below, nodes are important to be familiar with, as they are where cannabis plants begin to grow either pollen sacs (male cannabis plants) or pistils (female cannabis plants). Understanding the sex of a marijuana plant is crucial to the final product, since only female plants produce flowers and since non-pollinated flowers are far superior than pollinated buds when it comes to consumption.
Leaves are important components of a weed plant, and there are actually a couple types of marijuana leaves. The large, protruding leaves that appear along the length of the plant are called fan leaves. Theses leaves are essential to the living plant’s photosynthesis, but are always removed from the finished, harvested product.
As opposed to fan leaves, sugar leaves are small leaves found throughout cannabis colas’ cupping buds that are typically trimmed off the flower after harvest. They are called “sugar leaves” because of the high volume of trichomes found on them, which makes it look like the leaves are covered in sugar. Sugar leaf trim can be used to make edibles or concentrates.
The main support structure of the marijuana plant, the stem transports fluids, nutrients, and information from the roots to the rest of the weed plant. The stem provides a foundation to give fan leaves access to the light they need to facilitate growth and carries the weight of heavy colas.
Pistils vs. stigmas
There is often a lot of confusion surrounding pistils and stigmas, with many people confusing one of the other. Here’s a quick breakdown on the difference between the two important cannabis plant components.
What is a pistil?
The pistil is the primary piece of the female flower’s reproductive system, comprising a single ovule with two protruding stigmas.
What are stigmas?
The thin hairs that extend from a female’s bract to catch male pollen. They are commonly confused with pistils. Knowing how to identify stigmas is an important part of growing weed, as these are the telltale signs that a plant is female and will therefore produce the cannabinoid-rich flowers you’re trying to harvest.
Cannabis grows in a variety of climates around the world and can be used in many applications: rope, biofuel, paper, and many medical and recreational uses. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Types of weed plants
If you want to stay in touch with the origins of your favorite cannabis products, knowing the ins and outs of the plant at the industry’s core is a good place to start. And that includes knowing not only the specific parts of a cannabis plant, but also the different types and strains of weed that exist.
Along with understanding the various parts of a marijuana plant, you should also know about the different types of cannabis. While there are long-held claims about the effects that sativas, indicas, and hybrids offer, current research suggests that the effects of cannabis are determined by a person’s endocannabinoid system and the plant-specific cannabinoid profile.
Despite that, cannabis is typically classified in the following four categories:
- Indica: Indica-leaning weed plants tend to produce dense, fat, heavy buds during the flowering stage. These strains are typically believed to give consumers a “body high” instead of a more cerebral high.
- Sativa: Sativa plants tend to produce buds that are airy and more formed than indica plants. Sativa strains of the weed plant are often said to offer users a more cerebral, energetic, “buzzy” highs.
- Hybrid: As a blend of sativa and indica, hybrid strains are generally believed to give you a more balanced high.
- Hemp: Hemp plants are part of the cannabis family, but they differ from a regular weed plant in that they produce only trace amounts of THC, the cannabinoid responsible for the intoxicating effects of the marijuana plant. In the U.S., the 2018 Farm Bill specified hemp as a cannabis plant containing up to 0.3% THC. However, hemp plants produce a number of other important cannabinoids, most notably cannabidiol (CBD), and their fibers are used to produce a range of textiles.
To break it down even further, there are numerous strains within each of the more general categories indica, sativa, and hybrid. Understanding and becoming familiar with these various strains is what will really enable you to target — on a specific level — the type of experience you have when consuming weed.
How to tell male from female marijuana plants
Typically, you will be able to distinguish between male and female cannabis plants when the plant is about six weeks old. To figure out the sex of a marijuana plant , look at the plant’s nodes, where the leaves and branches connect to the main stem.
Male plants will produce pollen sacs that at first look like little tiny balls and then grow into larger clusters of oblong-shaped sacs. Conversely, a female weed plant will produce pistils, which in their early stages look like thin hairs and then eventually start growing into more structured ovules and stigmas.
To figure out the sex of a marijuana plant, look at the plant’s nodes, where the leaves and branches connect to the main stem. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
There is one very important reason why it’s crucial to be able to distinguish male from female plants: Only female plants produce flowers. Because male plants produce pollen sacs, they do not generate any of the buds that people actually harvest and consume. From the perspective of growing weed for human consumption, male plants are really only good for propagating brand new baby plants from seed.
With the exception of consciously choosing to reproduce plants through pollination (as opposed to cloning a female plant), growers must carefully keep male plants away from female plants.
Hermaphrodite plants are a rare monecious plant, meaning it develops both male and female sex organs. Hermaphrodites are primarily formed if a female weed plant is exposed to extreme conditions during key stages of growth. Flowers from hermaphrodite plants will be full of seeds, making them very poor quality for consumption. To avoid this, growers must be experts at spotting both hermaphrodite and male plants early and then getting rid of them before they ruin nearby female plants.
Many breeders produce seeds that are feminized as a way to avoid male genetics. These feminized seeds only carry female genetics, and in most cases, is guaranteed to produce female plants. Another option is to grow auto-flowering strains, which are genetically engineered to automatically flower after a brief vegetative period of two to four weeks.
How to propagate cannabis plants
Knowing the parts of a marijuana plant is necessary for propagating cannabis plants. Propagation refers to the process of using one plant to create new plants. In general, cannabis growers do this in one of two ways:
- Cloning : Cloning is a popular method, as it allows you to get multiple baby plants from a single adult plant, without having to buy seeds or go through the longer process of germinating, planting, and growing a weed plant from seed. To clone a marijuana plant, carefully cut a branch away from the stem right at the node. From there, place the cutting into a growing medium, typically either suspended in water or inserted into a starter plug. When the cutting develops roots you can then transplant it into a larger container or the ground, depending on where you’re going to be growing the plant.
- Seeds: Growing from seed requires you to start from scratch, and is ideally suited to growers who are novices, growers who want to produce a new type or strain than what they’re already growing, and growers who don’t have a plant they want to replicate exactly. To grow a weed plant from seed, place a seed in some sort of starting medium such as rockwool or peat pellets and keep it moist until it sprouts. As the sprout develops leaves and roots, it will start requiring more and more light. When a decent little ball of roots has formed, transplant the baby marijuana plant to a larger container or the ground and proceed to feed, water, and ventilate it until the weed plant reaches maturity.
The cannabis plant has many different parts to it. Learn about the cola, calyx, trichomes and more.
11 Plants That Look Like Weed But Are Entirely Legal (With Pictures)
Experienced gardeners know about the plants they are growing. They understand how the plant looks like when growing or fully grown.
But sometimes beginner gardeners often get confused with the plants that look like weed but isn’t a weed.
This happens so often that you may imagine that law enforcement may not get confused about plants’ similarity with other weed-like plants.
Let’s look at 11 plants that often get mistaken to be weeds.
1. Japanese Maple
Japanese maples are plants that look like a weed. You can grow it in a container or outside in the garden. It comes in several different varieties with different styles of leaf shape and color.
When the plant is still at a growing stage and has green leaves, it looks like Cannabis. This cannabis look-alike plant grows in Japan, Korea, and central China.
2. Coral Plant
The Coral plant is also known as Jathroha Multifida and has leaves that look very similar to weeds. Many people get confused with the texture and style of its leaves, which has sharp cuts and more extended sizes.
This is a tropical plant and grown primarily for its leaves and red flower bunch. This plant looks so similar to wild weed that some dealers try to sell it as a real weed to unknown marijuana users.
It’s mainly found in Mexico and Central America as the weather is more tropical at those places.
Okra is another plant that looks like a weed, especially its buds look very similar to weed buds. In fact, this has such a similarity with the illegal pot that cops in Cartersville mistook it to be weed and arrested a man who had grown Okra in his garden.
In reality, the Okra is an edible plant that is usually grown in warm and tropical climates such as in South Africa and Asia. Many southeast Indian cuisines use Okra in several of their dishes.
If you mistook Okra to be Cannabis and eat it, then don’t worry, as it has lots of nutrients which is right for your body.
4. Cranberry Hibiscus
Cranberry Hibiscus has a Latin name of Hibiscus Acetosella and is also known as African Rosemallow. It has large colorful leaves that look like cannabis leaves.
Once fully grown, the leaves turn out to be broader and look like a Maple leaf, but it can be easily mistaken for cannabis leaves when the plant is still growing.
Due to its high similarity with the marijuana plants, people like to plant it in either container or indoors when it’s small. After it has started blooming, the flower and leaves look quite different than weeds plants.
You can use the flowers and leaves of the Cranberry Hibiscus with salads or other dishes or use them as a natural food color.
The plant looks like a weed, but it has no THC, you won’t get high after consuming it.
Cassava is mainly known for its medicinal properties of the roots. The roots are quite poisonous if you eat raw. To eat it, you have to cook it properly, which removes the harmful hydrocyanic acid from the root.
The leaves of Cassava look like marijuana as it has light greenish color leaves like Cannabis. The leaves are directly attached to the stem and are grown in the bunch.
However, its similarity to the weed ends there. It’s grown for the starch and used for human and industrial consumption.
Sweetfern is a primarily invasive weed, which grows in the yards and garden. It’s part of the bayberry family and native to eastern Canada and the U.S.
Its fern-like leaves give the appearance of marijuana leaves, but it’s quite aromatic when rubbed. These smells feel similar to smokable pots that make people get confused as they think that it’s some different variety of Cannabis.
The leaves grow in multiple bunches from a single stem. As the plant grows further, the leaves spread out. It’s entirely legal to grow sweetfern wherever you want.
Although the plant looks like a weed, in reality, it’s just another herbal plant.
Cleome may not look like a wild weed plant when its flowered with bright red and purple color flowers. But while growing up, it gives the appearance of weeds. The leaves are long and spikey similar to a pot.
The Cleome flower is also known as spider flower due to its long tentacles stretching from the flower stem. It typically blooms in summer and lasts till the frost starts.
You can plant Cleome as an edible plant. It also attracts beneficial insects in the garden.
8. Texas Star Hibiscus
Texas Star Hibiscus is a slender, multi-branched plant that has leaves grown like Cannabis. The bright green color leaves don’t have very sharp pointy edges, but its long thin textured leaves create the illusion of a cannabis plant.
For people familiar with the pot or have experience growing it, they won’t consider the Texas Star Hibiscus plant to look like weed. Still, for casual users, they may indeed get confused.
When fully grown, it blooms crimson red or white color floor, but at the growing stage, it resembles more to the pot plant.
As the name suggests, the natural growing area of this plant is in Texas with flower blooming time from June to October. This is a very versatile plant and can be grown in moist and well-drained soil. It needs full sunlight to flourish and are perennial in nature.
Kenaf is known as Hibiscus Cannabinus in the scientific community. It’s grown primarily for food and fiber. But these plants resemble so much like a weed that your home visitors may think that you are into some bad company.
Like other commonly mistaken plants that look like weed, Kenaf has considerable similarity to Cannabis plants. This similar characteristic comes from the texture and leaf size of the plant.
It has star-shaped leaves with serrated edges. A stem may have a collective bunch of 7 blades that look similar to marijuana plant leaves.
In fact, this plant looks so similar to Cannabis that its scientific name has Cannabis terminology in it.
Just be careful when growing Kenaf in your home as you don’t want your concerned neighbour to call the police and report you to have illegal grow up.
10. Tagetes Minuta
Tagetes Minuta is also commonly known as Muster-John-Henry. It grows up to 1.2 m in length and 0.6 m in width, similar to cannabis plants.
The leaves are long, elongated, and finely serrated resemble the pot leaves. When the leaves are rubbed, it smells like a licorices.
With fully-grown stems, the plant blooms white and yellowish flowers, which gives the telltale sign that it’s not a weed plant. But when it’s small and growing, the plant looks like very much a weed plant.
The Tagetes Minuta is a native to South America, but it’s also commonly grown in other parts of the world. The plant has several medicinal properties as it found to be invasive and effective in controlling fungi, bacteria, and roundworms.
11. Chaste Tree
The Chaste Tree, when fully grown, does not look like a wild weed. But when it’s still small and growing up, the plant looks very similar to a pot. The leaves are long and serrated like Cannabis, and each stem contains 5 to 6 leaves like hemp or other cannabis leaves.
When fully grown, it doesn’t look like shrub anymore and becomes easy to know that this is not a weed plant. But at the initial stage, the plant has a very high resemblance to the weed.
Overall, the plant grows 8 to 12 feet tall and wide. The leaves are quite aromatic, and the plant bears the violet color flowers. The flower grows like a lavender, which, when bloomed, attracts bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects in the garden.
You should regularly prune the chaste tree plants as if left unchecked it can grow up to 15 to 20 feet tall. The pruning shears helps with shaping and adequately sizing the plant.
About Plants That Look Like Weed: Final Thought
Although marijuana plants are becoming legal in most parts of the world, such as in Canada and some parts of the U.S, it’s still widely considered to be illegal in most of the places.
The cannabis plants have a distinct look, and the hallmark of their appearance is the leaf. The long serrated and pointed leaves give the telltale sign that it’s a marijuana plant.
Many companies also use pot leaves distinct looks like a representation of hemp. This creates confusion for people who are not actually familiar with the marijuana plant. They often mistakenly assume plants with similar leave to be a pot plant.
In some cases, it may cause inconvenience to the planter as the law enforcement gets involved in investigating if you are doing illegal grow up.
Knowing the plants that look like weed gives you some caution before planting or explaining it to your suspicious neighbour before they dial law enforcement to report about you wrongly.
Some plants look like a pot, but in reality, it's not. Check out the list of 11 plants that look like weed when growing, and how to tell the difference.