The Anatomy of a Cannabis Plant

For many cannabis enthusiasts, the focus of knowledge lies in the cured flowers of the plant. As you may know, achieving the perfect cured flower requires science, love, and experience. In order to broaden your appreciation of this magic plant, here is an overview of the anatomy of the cannabis plant.

Cannabis plants can start from either a seed or a clone cut from a mother plant. Once the plant has gone through the first stages of its life, it reaches the flowering point.

Once the plant has matured to the flower stage, it will have a strong root system. The cannabis plant maintains one main root with additional branch roots to gather nutrients and resources.

Extending from the root system is the stem. The stem breaks into branches. The connection between the stem and the branches is called the node. The node holds a visual clue as to the sex of the plant. The node on the female plant (the sex that produces the smokable flower) contains extended stigma (different than the culture stigmas we try to dispute about cannabis!) to catch pollen. The male nodes have round, contained pollen sacs.

Cannabis plants can branch in two general shapes: tall and lanky or short and squatty. The shape of the plant can indicate if it is categorized as sativa or indica. Sativa plants grow more extended, taller stems and branches while indica plants maintain a fuller shape closer to the ground. PSA: The size and shape of the plant do not necessarily indicate the cannabinoid or terpene profiles which is why Ajoya utilizes experience categories at retail. Learn more about that here.

Along the branches, exist the leaves. Cannabis plants have two types of leaves. Fan leaves, the larger of the two, absorbs light to produce food for the plant through photosynthesis. Sugar leaves exist in the tiers of the cola. They received their name from that fact that they have a dusting of sparkly trichomes. Oftentimes, edibles and other infused products derive their cannabinoid and terpene content from sugar leaves, also referred to as trim after harvest.

Toward the end of some branches, generally toward the top of the plant, lives a cola. The cola provides a home for the flowers. An extra large cola can measure the length of a human forearm.

Each of the flowers on the cola contains trichomes. Trichomes resemble the antenna of a snail. They have an extended base with an orb like structure at the top. In the trichome lies the cannabinoids and terpenes. The trichomes create both the aroma of the plant as well as the effects felt when consuming cannabis.

Trichomes emerge from glands on the leaves, stems, and calyxes. These compounds originally served to protect against predators and external elements. The calyxes work closely with the bracht. These two elements make up the female reproductive system of the plant. The bracht encapsulates the calyx which is the translucent covering of the plant’s ovule. The bracht and calyx are part of the pistil which contain the reproductive elements of the plant. From the pistil extend the stigma. You will often hear the stigma referred to as the ‘hair’ of the flower. These can have vibrant colors in the red, orange, and purple families. While they add visual interest to the plant and can provide an indication of the overall health of the plant, they add little to the consumption experience.