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The Anatomy of a Cannabis Plant

Knowing the basics of the anatomy of a cannabis plant will help you better understand its growth cycle as well as more easily identify its gender. To help give you a grasp on the anatomy of cannabis plants, here we briefly describe the main parts of what make up the world's favorite weed.

  • Roots
    Cannabis plants develop roots beneath the surface of soil (or other growing medium) that both absorb nutrients and anchor it in place. A large tap root develops a system of fibrous secondary roots that distributes water, minerals, and other nutrients to the rest of the cannabis plant.
  • Main Stalk
    The main stalk provides the primary vertical support of the cannabis plant. The stalk and stems also carries and stores water and nutrients drawn up from the root system.
  • Leaf Nodes
    Nodes are the points that develop on the main stalk where new leaf branches generate.
  • Fan Leaves
    Cannabis plants have distinct, fan-shaped leaves that facilitate the photosynthesis process, and they feature between 3-9 serrated “fingers” each. Fan leaves grow symmetrically in pairs from the stalk and branches and consist of a stalk (petiole), flesh (mesophyll), and veins, which contain xylem and phloem.
    • Phloem
      The phloem transports sugars made via photosynthesis from the fan leaves throughout the rest of the plant.
    • Xylem
      The xylem transports minerals and water from the roots to other parts of the plant.
  • Flower
    Flowers are reproductive organs in the anatomy of a cannabis plant, and they generate the highest concentrations of cannabinoids, the chemical compounds found only in marijuana. The anatomy of a cannabis flower depends on whether the plant is a male, female, or hermaphrodite, as there are certain features that are specific to each sex.
    • Calyx
      The small, tear-shaped sepals that make up the flowers on a cannabis plant; they form in many shapes, sizes, and colors.
    • Pistil & Stigma
      Pistils with a sticky stigma at the end emerge from within each calyx to catch pollen from male plants. Pollination triggers the ovule (reproductive organ) within each calyx create a new seed. Often described as the “hairs” on female cannabis plants, pistils first appear white, but they turn shades of red, orange, and brown as the flower develops.
    • Stamen & Anther
      Stamens are the thin, tube-like stalks tipped with an anther (which releases pollen) that male cannabis plants produce
    • Trichomes
      Trichomes are the crystalline glands of resin (which contain cannabindoids, terpenes, and other chemical compounds) that form on cannabis flowers.
    • Sugar Leaves
      Much smaller than fan leaves, “sugar” leaves develop within flowers to store excess sugar (food) made by the plant.


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