Female plants produce the resin-secreting flower that is trimmed down into the buds you smoke, and males produce pollen sacs near the base of the leaves. Male plants pollinate females to initiate seed production, but the buds we consume come from seedless female plants—these are called “sinsemilla,” meaning “seedless.”
Examine the nodes of the plant and look for either the early growth of small sacs on a male, or two bracts on a female, which will eventually produce the hair-like stigma.
Often, growers will top, or cut off, the stem after about five nodes, which forces the plant to grow out laterally more, creating more bud sites.
Bract and calyx
Despite their minute size, it’s hard to miss the blanket of crystal resin on a cannabis bud. This resin is secreted through translucent, mushroom-shaped glands on the leaves, stems, and calyxes.
When determining the sex of a cannabis plant, pre-flowers, or the beginnings of male and female sex organs, will appear at the nodes.
The roots grow down from the main stalk of the plant into the soil. When growing from a seed, the main root is called the “taproot.” Roots are the lifelines of a cannabis plant, pulling water and oxygen into the plant so it can grow healthy and strong.
A bract is what encapsulates the female’s reproductive parts. They appear as green tear-shaped “leaves,” and are heavily covered in resin glands which produce the highest concentration of cannabinoids of all plant parts.
Even if you have all of these bases covered, plants can still pollinate themselves due to poor genetics. Plants with a bad genetic history and too much genetic variation are prone to becoming hermaphrodites. For this reason, it’s important to shop with reputable companies that offer high-quality seeds with stable genetics.
Despite their differences, all female plants share one thing in common: they produce flowers. These flowers, colloquially known as buds, possess small glandular structures called trichomes that produce cannabinoids such as THC and CBD.
Male plants, in contrast, don’t produce flowers. This makes them less valuable for growers seeking only buds. However, they do produce pollen sacs. These small vessels create the genetic material required to fertilise female flowers and create hybrids. This makes the males extremely important for breeding new cannabis strains.
HOW TO AVOID HERMAPHRODITE PLANTS IN YOUR GROW ROOM
To avoid this issue, try to maintain a stable environment in your grow room. Use a thermo-hygrometer to monitor temperature and humidity, keep your light schedule strict, and ensure your plants get all the nutrients they require.
Cannabis, like those who love it, doesn’t always stick to the rules, though. Sometimes, this dioecious plant species goes against the grain and develops both male and female reproductive organs. These specimens are known as hermaphrodites. Either genetic or environmental factors, or both, can cause plants to develop this unusual trait. Having both buds and pollen sacs, they end up developing the ability to pollinate and reproduce with themselves.
From psychoactive cannabinoids to aromatic terpenes, cannabis features many traits that make it unique within the plant kingdom. However, the uniqueness of the plant doesn’t stop at the phytochemicals it produces.
During the early flowering stage, take a stroll around your grow room or garden with a magnifying glass or jeweller’s loupe. Inspect a few nodes on each plant to see how far along into the flowering process they are. At this stage, you won’t see any obvious flowers or pollen sacs. Instead, you’re looking for young pre-flowers. Although these tiny structures look similar, they have distinct features that allow growers to tell them apart.