Anatomy of the Marijuana Flower and Plant

Macro of Trichomes
Photo by: Gleti/Shutterstock

Marijuana Bud Flower Closeup
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When you think of marijuana, what image comes to mind? Perhaps you envision the iconic marijuana leaf that nearly everyone has seen before. Or, perhaps you envision the full marijuana plant that’s grown in a field or within a grow room. Or you might envision something entirely different; the plant is viewed differently by each individual. Regardless, the marijuana plant is more intricate than one may think, especially because of its many parts, which all play a significant role. Read on to learn more about marijuana and the complex anatomy of this plant.

Types of Marijuana Plants

Despite marijuana being a natural plant with a relatively consistent appearance, there are variations of this plant, which provide users with different effects. For example, there are male, female, and hermaphrodite marijuana plants, which are very different from one another. Hermaphrodite marijuana plants are unique because they have both male and female reproductive organs, however, it’s recommended to destroy these plants as soon as possible because they can ruin your harvest.

In addition, most people would say that the female marijuana plants are the most important because they contain the THC that medical marijuana consumers and recreational users know and love. On the other hand, male marijuana plants serve their own purpose, such as providing pollen to the female plants in addition to providing users with an excellent source of hemp fiber. Additionally, male marijuana plants can even be used as a natural pesticide and repellant. Unfortunately, though, male plants have less cannabinoids on average as compared to female plants.

Therefore, if you’re looking to benefit from a surplus of cannabinoids, your best bet would consist of consuming marijuana from the female plants rather than the male plants.

Parts of the Marijuana Plant

The marijuana plant is a complex one, and it contains many different parts, such as the node, stalk, stem, fan leaf, seed, flower, pistils, calyx, cola, sugar leaf, trichomes, terpenes, and cannabinoids. Below is a brief description of each of these parts.

Node: The joint in which a leaf branches off from the plant’s stalk.

Stalk: The central stem of the plant, which can be repurposed for fiber.

Stem: The part of the plant that provides the structural support for the flowers/buds while also storing and transporting their nutrients. The stems can also be repurposed for their fiber rather than their high THC percentage.

Fan leaf: The traditionally large leaf that is responsible for the marijuana plant’s photosynthesis. The fan leaf uses energy from the sun to create a chemical energy to feed the marijuana plant(s). In general, these leaves have become a symbol of marijuana regardless of their low THC content. Lastly, fan leaves are commonly used when making infused products like edibles and raw juices, and creating extracts.

Seed: Within the marijuana plant, there’s a part called the calyx, where the seeds are normally hidden. Additionally, oil can be extracted from a marijuana seed, which can be used in human food and even animal feed.

Flower: The part of the marijuana plant that normally contains the highest concentration of THC. The flowers grow towards the top of the plant(s), and they’re commonly referred to as “buds.”

Pistils: The pollen-catching hairs that emerge from the flower, which initially appear white or translucent. However, later in the growing process, the hairs turn into reds, browns, and even orange colors. Overall, pistils are produced to grab the pollen from the male marijuana plants so that the female plants can be pollinated and then reproduce.

Calyx: The floral structure of the marijuana plant that forms when the flower begins the budding process. Calyxes have an appearance of a tubular sheath shape, and they’re made up of individual plant segments, which are normally green and fuzzy.

Cola: The mass of clustered flowers at the top of the female marijuana plant. The botanical term for a cola is “terminal bud. Overall, colas are the part of the plant in which the buds come together at the plant stem’s tip. However, colas can develop at the end of any branch rather than just at the top.

Sugar leaf: The small leaf that grows within the flower/bud, which is normally covered in trichomes because of its positioning within the plant. On average, sugar leaves typically have a thick coat of trichomes.


Macro of Trichomes
Photo by: Gleti/Shutterstock
Tiny resin glands on the flowers’ leaves and calyxes. To the naked eye, trichomes look like crystals, however, under the microscope, the trichomes can look like crystallized mushrooms. Additionally, trichomes feature a head and stalk, and cannabinoids are produced within the trichome heads. Trichomes are not only rich in cannabinoids, but they also ooze with several aromatic oils, aka terpenes.

Terpenes: Hydrocarbons may provide users with various desirable effects,  in addition to providing the aroma and flavor people experience when consuming marijuana. Overall, terpenes represent important building blocks that marijuana plants need to reach their peaks.

Cannabinoids: Chemicals unique to the marijuana plant, which provide varying effects to users. For example, cannabinoids interact with special receptors within our body, and they’re grouped into different sub-categories. A handful of examples of well-known cannabinoids include THC, CBD, CBN, CBG, etc.

More Than the Sum of Parts

Marijuana is a complex plant, that delivers to users is very unique, and many different parts are needed in order to produce the plant that millions of people rely on. Next time you purchase any type of marijuana product, especially flower strains, you’ll now be familiar with the anatomy of marijuana and its significant complexity.

Interested in creating your own infused marijuana products? If so, check out the interesting article here.

Article by: Nicole Skrobin