No matter what reason you have for wanting to consume cannabis, the content of the herb you consume comes from either a female or male cannabis plant. In rare instances, there are hermaphrodite cannabis plants, but most often, the cannabis plant has one gender.
Find out how you can tell the difference between male and female cannabis, the function each plant serves, and how this differentiation can help you when growing, consuming, and/or purchasing cannabis in the future.
Identification During Growth
When growing cannabis, it’s essential to identify whether the plant is female or male. There are many differences between these two types of plants, starting with the fact that female plants produce useable cannabis whereas male plants do not. If a female plant is pollinated, it will stop growing flowers and instead it will start producing seeds. To prevent the cannabis plant from producing seeds, it’s necessary to separate the males and females before the males begin pollination.
Throughout the growing process, cannabis plants undergo two stages of life, including the vegetative stage and the flowering stage. The vegetative stage is similar to a plant’s childhood because the plant is only focusing on growing bigger and taller. It’s nearly impossible to tell which gender the cannabis plant is during this first stage. However, at around six weeks, the plants begin showing “pre-flowers,” which will allow you to identify the difference between the male and female plant(s) before flowering and potential pollination.
Once the cannabis plant is around six weeks old, look for the telltale gender identifiers such as the male and female pre-flowers. Oftentimes, male plants are tall with thick stems and contain sporadic branches with fewer leaves. Additionally, male plants begin to show their gender when they start growing a shape that looks like a clump of bananas at the inner joints of the plant’s branches.
Female cannabis plants, however, start showing their gender when they grow tiny white hairs at the joints and base of the plant’s branches. The white hairs typically grow in sets of two, and as the plant matures, the hairs increase in size and turn into a reddish color. In general, female plants grow tiny white hairs and male plants do not, therefore, when trying to determine the gender of your cannabis plant, look out for this.
Identifying Mature Plants
Another way you can tell the difference between a male or female cannabis plant is to identify the plant’s sex organ(s). The tiny white hairs that grow on the cannabis plant are called pistils, otherwise known as the plant’s primary female sex organ. Female plants are often coated with an extremely thick layer of resin, which helps the female flower capture pollen produced by its male counterparts.
Overall, a flower that has been kept away from pollen is much more potent than a flower that has been fertilized because it produces more trichomes. The unfertilized female plant is known to produce trichomes, the ultra-frosty layer that holds the most THC.
The appearances of male and female cannabis plants are different, especially since the male plants do not contain the flowering buds that people know and love. A typical male cannabis plant produces dozens of “pollen sacks” rather than those frosty trichomes. These pollen sacks look like groups of tiny hanging tulip bulbs when they are closed, and when they’re open, it’s quite a pretty sight. In general, male cannabis plants aren’t as potent as females, but they still do contain cannabinoids.