Do you ever feel confused about the endless names used to describe different parts of the cannabis plant? Join me as we explore the anatomy of a female cannabis plant so you can determine which parts are the most beneficial for you and your unique needs.
- A beginners-level guide to understanding the anatomy of a female cannabis plant
- Labeled pictures for easy identification
- Notes for which parts of the plant contain the most trichomes (aka plant medicine).
- Practical tips for how to use each part of the plant - so nothing goes to waste!
Why You Will Love This Guide
I used cannabis every day for 8 years before I ever saw a real plant growing in the ground. Crazy right? Actually, no!
In fact, many consumers use plant medicine long before they ever encounter a live plant.
This is certainly true for most members of my Well With Cannabis Community.
So, of course, it is no surprise that it can be confusing to try and understand all of the different names used to describe the plant.
Flowers, buds, fan leaves, sugar leaves, stems, trichomes, and more.
While my cannabis terms and abbreviations guide may help, in this guide I will be breaking it down even deeper for you.
Join me as we explore the anatomy of a female cannabis plant and discuss which parts are the most beneficial for you and your unique needs.
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The Anatomy of a Cannabis Plant
However, real, live cannabis plants remain elusive because, despite legalization, growing cannabis remains illegal in most states.
Unfortunately, this means that most people are not familiar with the plant.
This can lead to a lot of confusion surrounding names for certain parts.
It is my hope that these pictures and this guide can help give you a better understanding of how the plant looks, functions, and grows - even if you have never seen one in real life (yet!).
For many people, this is the only thing that matters.
For this reason, I will include a note along with each heading to indicate how many trichomes each part of the plant typically contains.
Cola and Flower Buds
In this guide, we are only talking about female cannabis plants.
Yes - they come in two separate sexes, each one producing a different flower.
The female plant produces the type of flower we want for gathering the most cannabinoids and terpenes, up to 20x more than a male plant.
Looking at the picture above of a female plant, you can see that the cola is the large portion on the top of the plant that consists of a cluster of flower buds growing together.
This appears to be one big bud but is actually a collection of hundreds of smaller flower buds.
While one main cola appears at the top, additional small colas can be found on the lower branches.
The cola contains many of the parts we will talk about next including the trichomes, sugar leaves, bract and calyx, stigma, and pistil.
The cola and flower buds contain nearly all of the trichomes on the plant.
Cannabis trichomes are most important because they produce resinous oils that contain cannabinoids and terpenes - important plant medicine.
These tiny, crystal-like, sticky glands are found primarily on the flower buds, but they can also be found on other parts of the plant in smaller amounts.
Trichomes contribute to the taste, smell, and health benefits of the plant.
They are the reason why different strains of cannabis can be more potent than others, and why the smell can vary so greatly.
You can learn more about trichomes here.
Remember, trichomes contain cannabinoids and terpenes.
Terpenes are important because they contain their own important health benefits, create the aroma of the plant, and help the plant protect itself from predators.
The trichomes are the most important part of the plant because they contain cannabinoids and terpenes.
Sugar leaves grow on the cola, extremely close to the flower bud.
They get their name because they are covered in trichomes which make a sugar-coated appearance on the leaves.
While not as potent as the flower buds themselves, these leaves are often referred to as trim and are perfect for making edibles.
Compared to fan leaves, they are much smaller, grow together with buds, and contain significantly higher amounts of trichomes.
The sugar leaves contain a high amount of trichomes.
Bract and Calyx
The bract is the part found in the female reproductive area which is green and bears a tear-like structure.
Bracts are covered with a large number of trichomes and usually have high amounts of cannabinoids.
Inside the bract is where the calyx exists.
You can't see the calyx with your naked eyes, but it's right there, protecting the ovules.
The bract contains a high amount of trichomes.
The Pistil and Stigma
The pistils are the part of the flower that looks like thin, fuzzy strands of hair.
The stigma is the top of the flower's pistil which collects pollen grains from the male cannabis plants.
When the plant is young, the stigmas are colored white, but as they get closer to the harvest stage, they become yellow.
Many home growers want to may prevent the stigmas from collecting pollen in order to increase the yields.
The pistil and stigma contain no to very few trichomes.
Fan leaves are the large leaves on the body of the cannabis plant. Their main purpose is to capture light from the sun for the process of photosynthesis.
Most fan leaves do not have lots of trichomes on them, so they are not the first choice when making edibles. Many people, do, however, use the fan leaves for their nutrition benefits.
Fan leaves contain no to very few trichomes and, instead, are often used for their nutrition benefits.
Stalk and Stems
The stalk provides stability and structure to the cannabis plant.
The main stalk grows up from the root system and holds all the branches and leaves.
The stalk is very strong and contains tough fibers that have been used to create textiles, clothing, paper, and more in the past.
The stems are the smaller branches that grow off of the stalk.
Generally, the stems do not contain many trichomes and they are not often used for any meaningful purposes.
However, the closer the stems get to the flower bud, the more likely they are to have trace amounts of trichomes on them. People often use these stems to make stem tea.
The stalk does not contain trichomes. Stems contain very few trichomes.
Like any other plant, the cannabis root grows downward into the soil right from the main stalk.
The main root of a cannabis plant is known as a taproot.
The functions of the roots include pulling nutrients, water, and oxygen from the soil to help the plant grow healthy and strong.
The roots also work in conjunction with the stem to provide stability for the plant.
There is preliminary evidence to suggest that cannabis roots contain many health benefits on their own.
You can learn more about the benefits and how to make your own cannabis root tincture here.
The roots do not contain trichomes but do have their own reported health benefits.
I hope this guide helps you to more easily identify the different parts of the cannabis plant.
This really is so important, because all of the parts are distinctly different, and some are more beneficial to you than others.
If you want to go even deeper into learning about the cannabis plant itself, please join me in my Cannabis Compass Online Course.
My Edibles Made Easy Online Cooking Course will teach you how to make cannabis edibles and topical recipes at home with ease. This step-by-step video course will teach you how to infuse, extract, and create edibles with many different product types - all from the comfort of your own home.
Learn more and enroll today →