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  • Writer's pictureJess Hope

The anatomy of a cannabis plant.

You’ve likely handled lots of dried cannabis over the course of your cannabis journey, but unless you’re a cannabis cultivator or backyard grower, The average cannabis consumer hasn’t had the opportunity to handle and examine a growing marijuana plant. Each part of this complex plant has a function and purpose. Every piece of this plant serves a purpose and they all work together to give us that magical plant we love.


The roots are the most important part of the plant as they are responsible for drawing water and nutrients into the plant. Without roots, there is no life! Cannabis plants have a complex, spongelike, white root system that grows immensely in order to supply the plants high water demands. The nutrients are also absorbed through the roots of the plants along with oxygen.

Branches and Stems

The stems and branches of the cannabis plant can range in colour from dark purple, all the way to bright lime green. This depends on genetics, temperature, and a few other factors. Healthy stems and branches are a necessity in order to produce healthy cannabis. As the plant grows, you’ll notice nodes on the stem, these are the indicators of where branches and leaves will emerge from the growing plants. Think of the stem of the cannabis plant as a highway, it is the main stretch of the plant that is responsible for transporting the nutrients and water to the rest of the plant. Healthy stems and branches are vital to growing a beauty of a plant.

Fan Leaves

The pot leaf has to be one of the most iconic leaves out there. This is the most recognized part of the marijuana plant. It emblazes T-shirts, hats, cannabis logos, hemp farms and so much more. Did you know the fan leaves are one of the most vital parts of the plant as it absorbs the sunshine so Photosynthesis can occur so the plant can continue to grow and thrive?

The fan leaves are removed before harvest.

Fun fact, Did you know Sativa and indica plants have different shaped leaves? Sativa plants have long, slender leaves, while indicas are more short and dense. We also have hybrids, which a combination of both.

Male vs. Female; What’s the difference?

Did you know it’s the female plant that produces the buds we smoke? The male plant produces no flower at all.

Instead, the male plant produces pollen sacs that can cause seeds in the female plant. These pollen sacs look like tiny balls in their early stages and then go on to grow into oblong-shaped sacs that grow in clusters. These plants are not beneficial unless you’re wanting to crossbreed and start new genetics. Most breeders will cull their male plants at the first sign of it being male to prevent seeds from forming in the female plant. This is why it’s essential to know the difference between the two sexes of weed plants.

The female cannabis plants start with producing pistils that look like thin hairs that eventually evolve into structured buds.

Occasionally hermaphrodite plants occur. This happens when the female plant is in flower and is introduced to extreme conditions that cause it to go into shock, causing a surplus of seeds to occur within the buds of the female plant. This is why it’s important to know when this occurs so you can cull these plants and the male plants.

Flower aka the Buds

This the most sought after and handled part of the cannabis plant. But there is more depth and diversity to this plant than just pretty nugs. They come in various sizes, smells, and colours. The cannabis flower is just as diverse as roses for example, as they have various strains that define the plants’ characteristics. When looking for a healthy bud, we want to see a densely, resinous coated nug emerging from the cannabis plant. Buds can range in size and colour. The main buds that form at the top of your plant are called “ Colas”. These are the top, mature buds that form at the top of the female cannabis plant.

Calyxes and Trichomes

Calyxes - The calyxes are the first part of the flower to form. This is essentially the anchor that’ll hold the bud to the stem of the weed plant as it grows. It protects the bud reproductive organs while providing stability for the growing bud. These also hold and protect the Trichomes which are vital to producing the resinous glands that are full of cannabinoids such as THC.


Do you know that gorgeous shimmer you’re always seeking out when you buy cannabis? Those sparkly bits that glimmer. Those are trichomes. The resinous and sticky part of the bud. These hairlike appendages coat the buds typically and are known as the part of the plant that holds the chemical compounds that give the weed plant it’s unique effects and features. These trichomes fall off the dried plant as you’re grinding it and collect it in your grinder. This fine dust is what we call kief.


The marijuana plant is such a unique plant with much more depth than just it’s pretty buds we enjoy consuming in various ways. If you’re ever presented or given the opportunity to see cannabis being grown, or if you feel like growing your own. I highly recommend it. You gain a whole new appreciation and perspective when it comes to the marijuana plant. Watching a plant evolve from a tiny little seedling to a full-fledged plant to harvest and consume is such a magical and rewarding experience.

The next time you get a fresh bag of weed you should take the time to examine it and really take a closer, in-depth look at how complex this plant truly is. The point of growing marijuana in most cases is to produce gorgeous buds, so take a moment or two to admire and ponder it’s beauty before you bust up your weed next time.

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