anatomy of cannabis plant

A guide to the cannabis plant. Uses, properties, strains and anatomy

In this guide, you’ll find answers to the following;

  1. What is cannabis?
  2. Uses of cannabis
  3. Types of cannabis
  4. Properties of cannabis
  5. The difference between THC and CBD
  6. What is a strain?
  7. The anatomy of a cannabis plant

What is cannabis?

anatomy of cannabis plant

Cannabis is derived from the cannabis plant and has been used for thousands of years as a food source, in clothing, as a medicine and for religious and recreational use.

Uses of cannabis

Depending on your method of use, you will be using different parts of the cannabis plant. For example the seeds can be used as a food source, the stem can be processed for its fibers to make clothing and other materials. The buds of the plant are usually ground up and either smoked in a joint, bong or pipe and can also be vaporized.  Cannabis oil is manufactured from the leaves through extraction methods and in some cases the buds are also used for the extraction process.

Hemp seeds

It is now widely known that cannabis is used as a medicine to treat a variety of conditions, such as inflammation, insomnia, ADHD, epilepsy and in some cases has allegedly cured cancer. Here is an article that explains 31 medical uses of cannabis.

Types of cannabis

Cannabis is a plant family that includes hemp and cannabis. Hemp is grown for its fast growing, sturdy stems which are used in textiles and other materials such as car body panels. Cannabis is grown for its high levels of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) used for recreational purposes. There are three main categories of cannabis; Sativa, Indica and Hybrid.

Sativa / Indica / Hybrid

Sativa plants grow tall with skinny leaves. Sativas’ thrive in warm climates such as Mexico, North Africa and Southeast Asia.

Sativa leaf
General appearance of a cannabis Saiva leaf

Indica plants grow shorter with broad leaves  and denser buds compared to Sativa. Indica plants are tollerant to cool and cold weather. For protection from the colder environment, Indica plants  have evolved to produce denser more resinous buds compared to Sativa plants

indica leaves
General appearance of cannabis indica leaves

Hybrid cannabis plants are a cross between sativa and indica plants. Most strains of cannabis available today are Hybrids and will either be Indica or Sativa dominant. There are also hybrids that are a 50/50 split of Indica to Sativa.

What is the difference between THC and CBD?

Both THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) are found in cannabis plants. Cannabis has high ratio of THC to CBD, whereas hemp has a high CBD to THC ratio.

THC and CBD both have a similar molecular structure and interact with the human body’s endocannabinoid system

THC is a psychoactive chemical which produces the “high” when ingesting cannabis, whereas  CBD is non psychoactive and does not produce the same effect as THC. CBD will however produce a feeling of relaxation in the body and is being researched for its medical uses. Some people have noted that ingesting high CBD hemp oil has reduced anxiety, soreness, inflammation, seizures, nausea, depression and helped with insomnia.

What is a strain?

Cannabis is grown selectively for its desired effect which is produced by different THC/CBD ratios in the plant.  A strain is a subset of Sativa, Indica or Hybrid. It is advised to consume Sativa strains during the daytime whereas Indica should be consumed in the evening/before going to bed.

Anatomy of the cannabis plant

A cannabis plant can either be male or female. A male plant will have thicker, sturdier stems with fewer leaves than a female plant. If a male plant fertilizes the female plant, the female will produce more seeds and a much lower THC content. Another way to distinguish if a plant is male or female early on is by checking the joints on the stalks. Female plants will have small pistils which fine hairs will grow out of, male plants will not grow the hairs from the pistils.

The main constituents of the cannabis plant are: A stem, leaves, nodes, buds, cola, trichomes, pistil and stigma.

The stem is the main structure “body” of the cannabis plant. 

Leaves grow from the nodes which attach to the stem of the plant.

A cola is a collection of buds that grow tightly together, which look like a bud. 

Trichomes are tiny mushroom-shaped glands which grow on the stem, leaves and mainly the bud of the plant. Trichomes contain the terpenes (oils) which give each plant it’s characteristic aroma. They also contain the cannabinoids such as THC and CBD. Trichomes are referred to sometimes as crystals or kief when dried. When pressed together into a block, trichomes form what is known as hash.

The pistil is a reproductive gland of the cannabis plant and the stigma the fine hairs which grow from the pistil of the female plant.


The above cannabis plant has an abundance of trichomes. They are the white crystals which can be seen covering the buds and parts of the leaves.

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