How to Tell the Difference Between Male and Female Marijuana Plants

Unless you start with verified female clones or seeds, you'll need to know how to tell the difference between male and female marijuana plants when you grow your own cannabis. You have to be able to see the difference between the two sexes because you need to remove any male specimens from the females if you want to have a successful cannabis crop of flowers. If you don't separate the two sexes, you run the risk of the male plants fertilizing the females and watching the flowers turn to seed.

Identifying the sex of your specimens in a timely manner is important, as female marijuana plants will continue to produce flowers as long as they don't receive pollen from male plants. During the vegetative growth stage of your cannabis plant(s), you can determine the sex by examining the nodes as male, female, and hermaphrodite plants have distinctly different features. To help guide you, here we talk about how to tell the difference between male and female marijuana plants.

1. Female Marijuana Plants
Cannabis cultivators usually focus on growing female marijuana plants because they produce large, resin-covered flowers we use health and recreational purposes. You can tell them apart from male plants during the pre-flowering stage by the pair of hair-like pistils that form at the leaf nodes along the stem.

2. Male Marijuana Plants
Cannabis breeders use male marijuana plants to pollinate female plants to produce seeds. You can tell male marijuana plants from females by the small, banana-shaped sacs (which produce and later break open to release pollen) that form at the leaf nodes during the pre-flowering phase. Male marijuana plants also produce their own flowers, but they are smaller than those of female plants, and they form at the base of the plant's leaves.

3. Hermaphrodite Marijuana Plants
Hermaphroditic cannabis plants are relatively rare, and a marijuana plant's potential to self-pollinate is usually undesirable among most growers. You'll be able to see both male and female sex organs at the leaf nodes during the plant's vegetative stage. The flowers of hermaphrodite cannabis plants are usually small and riddled with seeds.


Before Nikki Furrer was a cannabis writer and professional, she had another dream job: owning an independent bookstore. While she says her business venture as a bookseller was ultimately untenable, it did open her eyes to how much she enjoys “matching the reader to the exact book they’re craving.” This zest for matchmaking is evident in her book 'A Woman’s Guide to Cannabis.' As the title suggests, 'A Woman’s Guide to Cannabis' is for women who are curious about cannabis. A more appropriate title, however, might have been a 'A Beginner’s Guide to Cannabis.' Though Furrer touches on applications for the plant that are specific to women—relief of menstrual pain or beauty (though her belief that cannabis is a beauty product because it makes you appear more well-rested seems relevant to both men and women—much of the information in the book is relevant to anyone who is totally inexperienced with cannabis, apprehensive about trying it and needs a run down of the basics.

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