What Does a Weed Plant Look Like: Different Parts, Functions, and Sexing
Have you ever asked for advice from another grower, and they start answering your question with terms you’re unfamiliar with? "He said to cut at the third node, but what is even that?!"
In order to grow a quality, high yielding weed plant; you will need to be familiar with the anatomy and functionality of different parts of a weed plant, such as branches, leaves, and buds! Each anatomical part has its own name, characteristics, and function!
In this article, we will explore the fundamental anatomy and visual traits of all parts of a weed plant, as well as its sex distinctions.
What Does a Weed Plant Look Like?
What does a weed plant look like? Naturally, the weed plant grows in a singular stalk shape (or Christmas tree). This is the plants' natural way to optimize the absorption of sunlight. The natural structure will produce one large bud, and many subsequent smaller buds on the lower portion of the plant.
But, many growers prefer to train their cannabis plant for better light absorption, airflow, as well as nutrient and water distribution! Once trained properly, the plant can take the shape of a candelabra, creating a more even canopy! The weed plant has typical characteristics visually: roots grow down into the soil or other grow medium, the stalk grows upwards to support branches, and the branches have leaves! However, there is a bit detail and nuance to the weed plant actually.
Furthermore, cannabis strains can also significantly impact the physical characteristics of weed plants, including the plant height, leaf shape, flower size, and color. The 3 most common cannabis strains are indica, sativa and ruderalis:
- Indica: Typically shorter and bushier, characterized by wide leaves and dense, compact buds. Indica plants often feature dark green hues and have a faster flowering cycle;
- Sativa: Generally taller and more slender, with narrow leaves and looser, airy buds. Sativa plants commonly exhibit lighter green shades and have a longer flowering period compared to Indica;
- Ruderalis: Known for its small size and hardy nature. Ruderalis plants usually have lower THC level and are primarily used for creating autoflowering hybrids due to their unique auto-flowering trait.
Different Parts of a Weed Plant
Roots are the physically lowest part of a weed plant, as they live in the grow medium. The roots are responsible for absorbing, and transporting water and nutrients to the rest of the plant! They also anchor the plant and provide support for it!
Stalk is the main, center stem of the weed plant. The stalk works like a straw; it is hollow in the middle, and its main function is to transport and distribute water, nutrients, and sugars upward from the roots to the rest of the plant! It also stores water and nutrients for times of drought.
The main stalk provides support for the flowers, and subsequent branches which grow off it!
4. Nodes & Internodes
Node is a point on the weed plant's stem where leaves, branches, or flowers originate. It's basically a junction, or intersecting point where growth points originate!
In contrast, internodes are the segments of the stem between nodes, representing the lengths of stem that provide support and determine the spacing between growth points.
5. Fan Leaves
Fan leaves are large cannabis leaves usually found on internodes, the segments of the stem found between two nodes. They are usually responsible for:
- absorbing light for photosynthesis;
- absorbing CO2;
- and even storing sugars and minerals that the plant requires for growth!
6. Sugar Leaves
Sugar leaves are smaller leaves usually found on or near the weed flowers. Although this is not the primary location of cannabinoid production, they do contain some psychoactive chemicals and trichomes.These features have earned them the nickname "sugar leaves." Just like the larger fan leaves, their man purpose is to absorb light for photosynthesis, but they also serve as a protective barrier for the plant's flowers!
Cola is a cluster of flowers or "buds" that form at the top of the main stalk. The cola is the most prominent and prized part of a weed plant. It contains the highest concentration of cannabinoids, and will be the largest set of flowers on the plant!
Trichomes are small, glandular structures (they have a stalk and head) that are seen throughout the plant, but are highly concentrated on the flowers and sugar leaves.
Trichomes are responsible for producing and storing cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes (all the good stuff). They also act as a defense mechanism for cannabis pests and predators, since they can produce compounds that deter herbivores, and the sticky nature of trichomes trap and immobilize pests!
Cannabis pistils are the reproductive site of the weed plant, which is often found on the underside of flowers. They contain small hairs called "stigmas" that attracts pollen from male weed plants, and ovules which are the female reproduction "organ."
Cannabis pistils are also an indicator of flower maturity. They start as white, progress to yellow-orange, and finally brownish when the weed plant is ready to harvest!
Often misnamed as "pistil," the stigmas actually refers to the small hair-like part of the pistil, responsible for attracting and transporting pollen from the male plant to fertilize the ovule located at the base of the stigma, within the pistil itself!
Bracts are small leaf-like structures that protect the base of female weed flowers. They also produce trichomes and terpenes, and contribute to the overall flavor and potency of the flowers!
Calyx are crucial part of the female flower structure that help with seed production. They are basically the outer skin of the female reproductive organs that protect them from external threats!
Weed flowers are the consumable "buds" formed by the plant! Their main purpose is reproduction and cannabinoid production. They contain; all of the female reproductive organs, highest concentration of cannabinoids and terpenes!
14. Pollen Sacs
They can only be found in the male weed plants. These small banana shaped sacks contain male pollen used for reproduction!
Cannabis Sexing: How to Tell If A Plant is Female or Male?
Cannabis is typically a dioecious plant, meaning it has separate male and female plants. Male cannabis plant produce small sacks of pollen. While female plant produce flowers that are capable of attracting and using the pollen to reproduce!
Female vs Male Weed Plants
Female weed plants produce flowers, which attract pollen produced by male plants for reproduction. The female plants use their stigmas to attract or grab pollen to fertilize their ovules which will produce seeds.
In nature, once fertilized with male plants' pollen, the female pant will produce seeds which eventually end up on the ground via death of the plant, and create the next generation of plants! Male plants will only produce pollen sacks, and are not capable of producing flowers.
Cannabis sexing is crucial knowledge for any grower to start the flowering process. Once the weed plant has started to form flowers, you will need to take a close look at the pistils. If the pistils contain stigmas, then it is female pant. If no stigmas are found protruding from the pistils, then it is most likely a male and will not produce the desired flowers!
Hermaphrodite Weed Plants
Although cannabis is a dioecious plant, it is possible for it to contain both male and female parts in one plant. These types of weed plants are called "Hermaphrodites" or "Hermies." They have the capability to produce both pollen, and seeds! This is typically not desired by growers, and often times they come about by accident or grower error.
Hermaphrodite weed plant can arise as a natural response to stress, including:
- physical damage;
- interrupted light schedule and intensity.
When a weed plant experienced abundant amount of stress, it can develop male pollen sacks in attempts to self pollinate to ensure the survival of the next generation of plants. It is best to remove any plant which shows signs of hermaphroditism from the grow environment as soon as possible. As there is a chance of it pollinating the other pants, which will cause them to stop focusing on producing flowers, and instead on producing seeds.
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