Parts of the Cannabis Plant

What You’ll Learn in This Article

  • Though you’ve likely handled dried, cured cannabis buds, it’s rare for someone outside of cultivation circles to handle a whole cannabis plant, let alone know its many aspects and their functions.
  • One component, ‘sugar’ leaves, get their name from the high volume of trichomes they present, resembling sugar.
  • The stem provides a foundation to give fan leaves access to the light they need to facilitate growth and carries the weight of the heavy cola(s) among other functions.
  • If you want to get to know cannabis better, be sure to get to know the dynamic pieces that go into the composition and structure of the plant itself.

Cannabis grows in a variety of climates around the world and can be used in many applications, from rope, biofuel, and paper to medical and recreational uses. The plant is part of the Cannabaceae family, which also includes hops. It is further classified as Cannabis sativa L. Each part of the plant serves a purpose and while the whole of a cannabis plant is certainly greater than the sum of its parts, knowing its parts can inform your experience and appreciation of it. Below are descriptions of each of the plant’s parts and the functions they perform.

cannabis_plant_anatomy

FLOWER

The flowers of the female cannabis plant can be identified by their small teardrop structures, which consist of pistils attached to bracts. Flowers are usually covered with a frosty coating of trichomes, with a heavier density of trichomes making for a more desirable flower.

COLA

The main “flower,” at the end of a female plant’s stem is composed of many small floral clusters. The bigger, heavier, and more densely covered in trichomes, usually the better, though some cultivars will naturally grow more airily.

BRACTS

The small leaves that surround the female plant’s reproductive cells. When a female plant is exposed to male pollen, the bracts surround and shield the seed pod.

TRICHOMES

Hair-like appendages found on the surface of the cannabis plant that either protect it from external stressors or contain resinous glands that create the plant’s cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes. Trichomes give cannabis buds a crystal-like sheen and make them sticky feeling.

NODE

The point at which the stem and leaf intersect. Nodes can hold one or more leaves or offshoots.

FAN LEAVES

Large, protruding leaves that appear along the length of the plant that are essential to the living plant’s photosynthesis, but are always removed from the finished, harvested product.

SUGAR LEAVES

Small leaves found throughout cannabis colas cupping buds that are typically trimmed off the flower after harvest. They are called ‘sugar’ leaves because of the high volume of trichomes found on them resembling sugar. Sugar leaf trim can be used to make edibles or concentrates.

PISTIL

The female flower’s reproductive system that is made up of a single ovule with two protruding stigmas.

STIGMAS

The thin hairs that extend from a female’s bract to catch male pollen. They are commonly and incorrectly confused with pistils.

STEM

The main support structure of the plant that transports fluids, nutrients, and information from the roots to the rest of the plant. The stem provides a foundation to give fan leaves access to the light they need to facilitate growth and carries the weight of heavy colas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Relatively few cannabis users have handled a whole cannabis plant, let alone been able to identify its individual parts. But knowing the origins of one’s food has become a rising trend among American consumers — one that’s likely to carry over more and more into the cannabis trade. If you want to stay in touch with the origins of your favorite cannabis products, knowing the ins and outs of the plant at the industry’s core is a good place to start.