Cannabis Anatomy 101‏ – Parts of the Plant

Cannabis Anatomy 101‏ - Parts of the plant - Weed Seed Shop Blog

If you’re dreaming of creating the perfect cannabis garden, then you need a comprehensive knowledge of cannabis anatomy. All of the different parts of the plant play a vital role in the final product that you get to enjoy and knowing how all parts contribute is essential information for any grower. This article is a cannabis anatomy 101 breakdown for any grower, whether just beginning or a novice.

If you’re going to be a successful cannabis grower, you have to know all of the parts of the plant and what purpose they serve to you. The anatomy of cannabis is complex, just like with any other living organism, and it is more than just the bud that contributes to the final product we put into our bodies. Having an understanding of the different parts of the plant such as the calyxes, the pistils, and the trichomes helps you to grow a plant that is much more personalised to what you want to experience.

There are so many more factors involved in the final product of a cannabis plant than just the famous buds and leaves. Even these parts contain information about the final experience, such as whether or not it is indica or sativa or whether the plant is male or female. This is an exploration into the anatomy of cannabis and is all information that growers can use to create the cannabis garden that they have been dreaming of.

Cannabis Anatomy 101‏ - Parts of the plant - Weed Seed Shop Blog

Indica and Sativa

Weed is usually categorised into two categories: indica and sativa. This is essential information to anyone who is growing cannabis or medicating with it. Given the difference in the two varieties’ growth patterns, look, and differing effects, it could even be said that these are two completely different species of cannabis. They are there to medicate different things and provide completely different physical and cerebral effects.

The indica plant is short and stocky, while the sativa plant is taller and thinner. This is the main identifiable aesthetic difference between the indica and sativa varieties of cannabis. In the garden, indicas tend to look more bushy while sativas look much more like small trees.

Pure sativa strains are very rare and next to impossible to find on the market. Most of the strains available on the market these days, whether for sale as a seed or as cannabis products, are hybrid strains. This means that they were made as a result of crossing indica varieties with sativa varieties. The effects vary greatly between the two, with indica being more of a physical high and sativa being an uplifting cerebral high. They are used to medicate different things and induce different experiences.

Male and female

The next most important thing to know about your cannabis plant is whether it is male or female. This is important because one of these produces the buds that you smoke and the other one does not. From a regular bunch of seeds, some of the plants will come to be male and some of them will come to be female. It is the male plant that pollinates the female plant to begin a process of seed production. But the unpollinated female plant grows into the beautiful bud-heavy plants that you see in a cannabis plantation.

Most growers aren’t interested in male plants because if they pollinate the female, she does not grow the amazing buds we like to smoke. However, the male plant does serve a purpose in the area of cannabis genetics. Male plants are used to experiment with breeding to experiment with the creation of new strains. Feminized seeds can be purchased now so that all the seeds grow into flowering cannabis plants, but with regular seeds extra caution needs to be taken care to kill the male plants before they pollinate the female plant.

Cannabis Anatomy 101‏ - Parts of the plant - Weed Seed Shop Blog

Different parts of the plant

The cannabis plant grows on a tall, thin stem. The famous fanned bud leaves grow from this stem from something called a node, and from this grows the flowers that really distinguish each plant from the next. It is the characteristics of the flower that really make each bud plant unique in its expression and qualities.


The cola is sometimes referred to as the terminal bud. This is exactly where the smokeable female flowers bloom from. There is usually a main cola at the very top of the plant, otherwise known as the apical bud. This is the main bud because it is this one that is generally considered to be the biggest and the heaviest. However, colas do grow further down the stem on other branches. Different growing techniques and cropping techniques allow growers to enhance the size of the colas and encourage them to grow bigger.


Whereas the cola is the terminal point from which the flowers bloom, the calyx is the actual bud itself. This is the part of the plant that is generally harvested to make the final product. So if you’re smoking weed, all the goodness is really coming out of the calyx. They are small, tear-shaped nodules and they are completely covering the colas. They are sometimes known as sugar leaves because they are covered in sugary resin. They contain large amounts of THC and other cannabinoids.


The pistils of a cannabis plant are growing out of the colas and the calyxes and are sometimes called “hairs” because that is exactly what they look like. When the plant is just beginning, they appear as white hairs, and eventually they change colour into oranges, reds, and browns. It is the pistils that are in search of the pollen from a male plant. The pistils do not actually contain any terpenes or cannabinoids, so they provide nothing in terms of taste, smell, or effect.


The trichomes are generally what most growers are looking to have in abundance on their buds. Indica varieties are usually saturated in a resinous layer of trichomes. These are the small, crystal-like (sometimes milky in colour) balls of resin that grow all over the buds, leaves, and stems. It is interesting that the cannabis plant produces these as a defence mechanism against predators but happen to be the very thing that human beings are looking for. The trichomes are rich in THC, as well as the things responsible for the strong aroma of cannabis called terpenes.

Fan leaves

The fan leaves of the cannabis plant are another part that growers are interested in. Not only are they great for making juices, edibles, and other cannabis products, but they are incredibly beautiful. They are the fingered, fan-like leaves that grow along the stem and from the base of the cola. They vary in their structures and, although most comprise 5 fingers, there are some that have 7 or even more. They are a famous symbol of the cannabis plant itself and are a very distinct characteristic of it.

Seeds are usually collected from cannabis plants for further planting, and the rest of the material, such as stems, is either used as compost or recycled for other purposes. A use can be found for just about any part of the cannabis plant. The waste material that is produced from stems can even be used to produce paper. That is what makes weed one of the most versatile plants on the planet.


4 thoughts on “Cannabis Anatomy 101‏ – Parts of the Plant”

    1. Hi I have 4 plants 2 are bigger than the others, but at least 4-5 leaves on each of the biggest plant are curling up and going brittle and yellowy? Can you help,I used a little bit of grow and bloom nutrients and am wondering if that’s what’s causing this? Any advice please?

      1. Hi Dave
        I am no expert as still finding my way but possible as you suspect its the grow and bloom nutrient.
        I have found for the last couple of years using miracle gro organic compost and fed with miracle gro performance organics liquid feed every other day, with just plain water in between has worked well. Hope this helps you to think it through. Good luck

  1. I am a first time grower so any advice would be extremely helpful, they are beginning to flower as well.

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  • Author_profiles-WSS-Emma Ryte

    Emma Ryte

    Born in Germany, lived in England my childhood years and spent my high school era in the US. My parents are basically hippies and that is why I have had the possibility to speak freely and explore my passion for the cannabis plant. My love for writing followed soon after. Writing about this subject has taught me so many things about the use, cultivation, health benefits and industrial options, and I love that I can share this knowledge with you! I visit Amsterdam as often as I can and I love the vibe there when it comes to weed, it lets me try new things and learn about the newest developments in the industry. The one person I would love to smoke some with would have to be Stevie Wonder. I love relaxing to his music while high and I would love to meet him!
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