The Anatomy of a Marijuana Plant

, 27/05/2021

Medical marijuana users are familiar with marijuana buds, but many people have never seen a marijuana plant in its full form before. From a plant’s bright, colorful pistols to its sugary crystals, a cannabis plant is made up of many different structures that are all important to the experience that you, the user, will have when you smoke or ingest a product.

If you’ve always wondered about the anatomy of a marijuana plant, read on to learn more about these amazing plants.


Let’s start with what you already know: the flower, or the buds. A plant will either have male or female flowers, and the flowering process is how a grower will be able to know whether a plant is male or female. What’s the difference? A male plant doesn’t consist of any buds but, instead, develops small pollen sacks that can be found at the base of its leaves. A female plant, on the other hand, will develop a cola and grow buds. If it’s been fertilized by a male plant, a female plant will also produce seeds. Because pollinated plants have less cannabinoids (which means less THC), the products you purchase will always be unpollinated female buds.

The Cola

As previously mentioned, female marijuana plants develop a cola, which is where the buds meet at the tip of the plant’s stem. For the greatest yield, experienced growers use techniques that can increase the quantity, size, and quality of the cola so the plant is able to yield more weight. If you buy high-quality flower from dispensaries, you’re likely getting hand-trimmed buds that come right from the cola.

Fan Leaves

When you look at a marijuana plant, its fan leaves will be the first thing you notice. They are the large, protruding leaves that stick out from the top to the bottom of the plant. Each leaf contains five individual leaves (which is the shape people are most familiar with), but there are instances where there can be more. These leaves don’t produce high levels of cannabinoids and aren’t smoked or ingested. Instead, their main purpose is photosynthesis.

Sugar Leaves

Sugar leaves are the smaller leaves that protrude from a plant’s buds. They’re difficult to see from afar, but you can see the tips peeking through when you take a closer look. Sugar leaves get covered in what looks like sugary crystals, which are actually called trichomes. These trichomes can be used to make extracts and concentrates for edibles.


Every female marijuana plant looks like it’s covered in tiny hairs. These hairs start out white but then turn into beautiful colors like brown, red, orange, purple, and blue. The purpose of these pistils is to catch pollen from nearby male plants for pollination purposes.

Marijuana plants are incredibly complex, so this is just a short list of some of a plant’s features. Hopefully this gives you a more comprehensive overview of cannabis plants so you can better understand what goes into creating the flower and products you buy from your local dispensary.

At North Star Holdings, Inc., we have over 300 strains in our library of plant genetics; we cultivate around 120 strains for each of our dispensary locations to give our customers access to a variety of products to suit their unique needs. You can learn more about our cultivation process online.

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