The pistil contains the reproductive parts of a flower, and the vibrant, hair-like strands of the pistil are called stigmas. Stigmas serve to collect pollen from males.
Growers can ensure the sex of their plants by growing clones or the genetically identical clippings from a parent strain. Feminized seeds are also made available through a special breeding process.
While both result in pollen production, true hermaphrodite cannabis plants produce sacs that need to rupture; anthers are exposed, pollen-producing stamen.
The space between nodes is called “internodal spacing” and will give you a sense of whether a plant will grow tall or short.
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 former features distinctly male and female reproductive organs. Upon close inspection, you’ll notice pollen sacs occupying some nodes, and female flowers residing at others. When the pollen sacs rupture, the pollen will displace into the flowers, and the plant will effectively breed with itself. From there, it’ll go to seed and produce the subsequent generation.
Let’s take a deeper look into male and female cannabis plants. From there, we’ll see what causes some specimens to develop both male and female reproductive organs.
See, the vast majority of plant species are monoecious, a term meaning they possess both male and female reproductive organs. These include edible plants, such as corn and squashes, that can readily fertilise their own flowers using their own pollen.
TYPES OF HERMAPHRODITE CANNABIS PLANTS
These protruding structures are designed to capture pollen, which leads to fertilisation. They stick out away from the flower to capture pollen from the air, and to await being brushed up against by pollen-covered insects.
Of course, growers want to avoid this phenomenon if they’re aiming for the best flowers possible. We’ll dive deeper into what causes hermaphroditism and how to avoid it below.
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.
Female cannabis plants are the main focus of casual growers looking to harvest a personal stash. But, depending on their genetics, female plants can look drastically different from one another. Some remain small, producing dense canopies and significant lateral growth. Others grow in excess of 3m, produce massive harvests, and look more like trees than regular garden plants.
A male plant will have a purely green bud. The flower comes later. It looks like it’s a rolled up flower that hasn’t unrolled yet. A female plant will have a sprout that looks more like a pair of long thin flowers as it sprouts. The sprouts on the males will eventually open into a pollinating flower. If the male isn’t culled it will pollinate the females and cause seeds to appear. The female plant will be less potent and will harvest less bud. Plus you’ll have to pick out all of the seeds or the pipe will periodically explode as it burns a seed.
As they mature, plants express themselves physically in characteristic ways. Size is a great indicator of sex. Males tend to grow faster and higher in the first stage of growth than do the females. Male plants have a longer intermodal space as well. The intermodal space is the space between the limbs of the plant that originate from the main stalk. Females are smaller than a male plant in the beginning growth stages, with shorter intermodal spaces and a squatter appearance.
Cannabis cultivators the world over know the obsessive, purgatorial feeling of waiting for their plants to mature to discern sex – female, male or hermaphrodite. A male plant, while essential for reproduction, can also run rampant across a garden and devastate an entire crop of flowering female plants — intended for consumption — by inadvertently pollinating them and causing hermaphroditism. If culled and managed correctly, the male becomes a key part of this sustainable, perpetuating reproduction process.
How to Tell if Your Cannabis Plant is Male or Female
Flowering in both sexes usually starts within the third to fourth week of growth. There can be more recent signs that a plant is male, but the clincher is when they start to flower. The first buds will usually begin where the limb reaches the main stalk.
Male plants also get a woodier stalk sooner than do females. This is needed to support the taller plant. The male plant is usually the source of fiber that is used in fabrics and other industries. While the female plant is also used as a source of industrial fiber, the male plant is preferred. Male cannabis plants look more like hemp than does a female cannabis plant. Its fibers are almost as tough, but the cellulose that the male cannabis plant contains isn’t as robust as is the male hemp plant.
The goal is usually to raise a crop without seeds. This is known as a sin similla plant. It’s a Spanish word that aptly translates as “without seeds.” Most people bunch the two words into one, making it sinsimilla to the foreign tongue. A sinsimilla plant, then, is an unpollinated female plant.
There’s no way to ascertain if a seedling is male or female with the naked eye. Growers often find themselves on the edge of their seats waiting for plants to mature while telltale signs of sex slowly reveal themselves.