Parts of the Cannabis Plant

Behind Every Joint, Edible, or Oil Cartridge is a Cannabis Plant with Several Equally Distinct Parts

Cannabis grows in a variety of climates around the world and can be used in many applications, from rope, canvas, and paper, to medical and adult consumption. The plant is part of the Cannabaceae family, which also includes hops. Each part of the plant serves a purpose and some parts are more important than others. Below are descriptions of each part of the plant.

cannabis_plant_anatomy

FLOWER

The flowers of the female cannabis plant can be identified by their small teardrop structures, which consist of a pistil attached to a bract. Most flowers are coated with a frosty coating of trichomes.

COLA

The main “flower,” composed of small female floral clusters at the end of a plant’s stem.

BRACT

The small leaves that surround the female plants reproductive cells. When a female plant is exposed to male pollen, the bract surrounds and shields the seed pod.

TRICHOMES

Resinous appendages found on the surface of the cannabis plant that contain the plant’s cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes. Trichomes give cannabis buds a crystal-like sheen and sticky feel.

NODE

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

FAN LEAVES

Large, protruding leaves that appear along the length of the plant that are essential to the plant’s photosynthesis.

SUGAR LEAVES

Small leaves found throughout cannabis colas that are typically trimmed off the flower after harvest. Called ‘sugar’ leaves because the high volume of trichomes found on the leaves resemble sugar. Sugar leaf trimmings can be used to make hash or concentrates.

PISTIL

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

STIGMAS

The thin hairs that extend from a female flower to catch male pollen. They are commonly and incorrectly referred to as Pistils.

STEM

The main support structure of the plant that transports fluids and nutrients from the roots to the rest of the plant and provide a foundation to give leaves access to the light they need to facilitate growth.


Relatively few cannabis users have handled a whole cannabis plant, let alone been able to identify its individual parts. As the cannabis industry grows, it will inevitably create further distance between the raw plant and the end user. Collectively, we consume thousands of foods and beverages without thinking of the crops of corn that were harvested to make them.

But knowing the origins of one’s food has become a rising trend among American consumers — one that’s likely to carry over 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 might be a good place to start.