Cannabis Plant 101

So you are interested in learning about cannabis.

Learning about the plant anatomy is a great place to start!

The history of the cannabis plant dates back as far as 12000 BC roughly 14000 years ago, making it one the planet’s old cultivated crops.

Cannabis has made its way across the world, impacting emperors, kings, cultures, and societies. More recently, cannabis has once again become seen for its medical potential.

This bountiful plant has so many uses and depending what you are trying to accomplish with this beautiful plant will change how you plan to use it. For example, if you are looking to consume cannabis for its medicinal cannabinoid profile (link to cannabinoids & terpenoids) then you would be more interested in the seedless female plants called sinsemilla, which grow cannabinoid and terpinoid-rich flowers without seed.

Most of the focus of cannabis anatomy is on the resin-bearing female plants that produce the cannabinoids and terpenoids used as medicine.

However, male plants hold a completely different purpose. Male plants carry large amounts of pollen sacs as seen in the graphic to the right. Cannabis breeders use male plants to pollinate females in search of new and unique strains.


Here are some important components that you need to know about:

Pistil – Cannabis female plants let their presence be known through their pistil-presentation. Out from the calyxes peek tiny red-orange hairs; these vibrant strands are called pistils. Pistils begin with a white coloration and progressively darken to yellow, orange, red, and brown over the course of the plant’s maturation. They serve to collect pollen from males and thus serve a significant role for reproduction, but pistils bring very little to the flower’s potency and taste.

Trichomes – Trichomes are clear bulbous, mushroom shaped, globes house aromatic oils called terpenes as well as therapeutic cannabinoids like THC, CBD, and CBN. 

They occur most abundantly on the calyxes and in minor ways on the leafs. This resin (or “kief” when dry) is secreted through translucent, mushroom-shaped glands on the leaves, stems, and calyxes. Trichomes are believed to be originally developed to protect the plant against predators and the elements.

For further information about the world of Trichomes read this Cannabis Culture article by Bubbleman:

Cola – Cola is known as the terminal bud, and refers to the plant’s “bud site” where tight female flowers bloom. The main cola forms at the very top of the plant, while smaller colas occur along the budding sites below. The number and size of cannabis colas can be increased through a variety of growing techniques.

Nodes – Nodes are points between the stalk/main stem and any branching stems where two stems diverge. Nodes are also known where flowers or seed can be found to grow.

Stalk – The Stalk of a Cannabis plant is the main stem that is the primary growth that protrudes from the seed upon vegetation. It would be comparable to the trunk of the tree.


Calyx – Beyond being just a fun word to say, this is the component of the plant that comprises the actual female flower. Calyxes have are tear-shaped nodules that contain high concentrations of trichomes, which house cannabinoids and terpenoids. Look closely underneath the tangle of tiny leaves (called “sugar leaves”) on the cannabis bud and you’ll find those tear-shaped nodules. These are the calyxes, and they come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors.

You can also find some great videos about the cannabis plant anatomy and other cannabis information in the EDUCATION VIDEOS SECTION.

Fan Leaf – The large leaf that has the photosynthetic responsibility for the cannabis plant. It uses energy from the sun/light sources to create chemical energy to feed the plant. Fan leaves lack significant cannabinoids and terpenoids, but they can become useful for creating cannabis juice.

Sugar Leaf – The sugar leaf is a small leaf that grows within the flower and it is usually covered in trichomes because of its positioning. Sugar leaves are typically trimmed when flowers are harvested, but their trichome-coating makes them an ideal ingredient when making cannabis edibles.

Flower – The flower is the part of the female cannabis plant that typically covered in trichomes which houses the cannabinoids and terpenoids. Flowers grow toward the top of the plant and they are commonly referred to as buds.

Seed – We like to refer to the cannabis seed, like any other seed, as the giver of life. A Cannabis seed can have multiple purposes. Primarily, the seed will house the genetics of the specific strain and upon proper light, nutrients, and environmental attention will grow to produce either male or female cannabis plants. Seeds can also be eaten for theirnutrient-richness, you might know this more commonly as Hemp seeds.

Hemp seed nutrient… Hemp contains:

  • All 20 amino acids, including the 9 essential amino acids (EAAs) our bodies cannot produce.
  • A high protein percentage of the simple proteins with a wonderful 3:1 ratio of Omega-6 Linoleic Acid and Omega-3 Linolenic Acid – for cardiovascular health and general strengthening of the immune system and fend off toxins.

 Studies in the recent past have shown that consuming hemp seeds whether raw or in oil form, has the capacity to aid in the healing process of diseases related to immune deficiency. 

For more information about hemp seed nutrients have a look here:

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