Botanical drawings of the different parts of the cannabis plant

Anatomy of a Cannabis Plant

Most people know the cannabis plant by its distinctive leaf, but there are all different parts to the cannabis plant that are much more important than its foliage. In this guide, we’ll teach you the anatomy of the cannabis plant.

What Are the Parts of a Marijuana Plant?

Most people know the most iconic parts of a cannabis plant: the fan leaves and the flower bud. But the truth is, there are many parts that make up a marijuana plant–all of which have different purposes. Starting at the bottom, here are the parts of the cannabis plant:


The stalk, or stem, of the marijuana plant is the main artery and the supporting structure. While the stalk’s integrity is crucial to the marijuana plant’s ability to grow tall and hold large colas, it’s also important to the distribution of nutrients throughout the plant. 


A node is the place where a leaf grows off the stalk. Nodes are especially important in the identification of a male versus female marijuana plant. Male plants grow pollen sacs at their nodes, while female plants grow pistils. 

So you might be wondering: why does male versus female matter? Female plants are what give us the flower bud we consume, and female flowers that have not been pollinated are much higher quality than those that have been pollinated. This is why many growers keep their male plants far away from their female plants. 

Fan Leaves

It’s impossible to know anything about marijuana consumption and not know the iconic fan leaf. It’s on almost all types of 420-friendly merch out there. While fan leaves are useless to consumers, they’re important to the plant itself because they are crucial to a marijuana plant’s photosynthesis. That said, once the plant is harvested for marijuana products, the fan leaves are removed.


The end of most marijuana plant stems contain a cola or colas. This is a big cluster of marijuana flower. Depending on the plant, it can have a single, large cola, a bunch of small colas, or a large cola and some smaller colas. The cola itself contains some important parts you may already know about:

  • Sugar leaves - When a marijuana plant flowers, it grows these tiny leaves that look like they’re coated in sugar. This coating is actually a layer of trichomes. While you throw away fan leaves, you shouldn’t throw away sugar leaves. The trichomes on these leaves can be used to create different types of concentrates
  • Trichomes: Trichomes are tiny glands that contain cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes. These compounds are what contribute to a plant’s THC and CBD levels, its psychoactive effects, as well as its smell and taste.
  • Bract: On a female marijuana plant, the reproductive cells within the cola are actually surrounded by tiny little leaves called bracts. When the female plant is pollinated, these leaves will shield the creation of a seed pod. 
  • Pistil: The pistil is the female reproductive system of the marijuana plant. It contains an ovule and two stigmas. 
  • Stigmas: The stigmas protrude from the pistil as little hair-like structures. Their sole purpose is to collect pollen from a male plant. 

Most of the parts of a cola are valuable in the creation of different marijuana products, including concentrates and even pre-rolls. 

What Are the Different Types of Cannabis Plants?

While every cannabis plant has some of the same parts (depending on if they’re male or female), you may notice there are different types of cannabis plants being marketed in dispensaries. Here are the four different types of marijuana plants you can find:

  • Indica: If you see a plant with wide fans, thick flower buds, and a short, bushy stature, chances are good that it’s an indica. While there are some cannabis enthusiasts who feel indica has a sedative effect, the truth is that cannabinoids affect everyone differently, so the only way to determine how indica feels to you is by giving it a try. 
  • Sativa: There are a couple key differences between indica and sativa. Sativa has lighter-colored leaves than indica, and it tends to grow much thinner and taller than its counterpart—up to 12 feet. While cannabis enthusiasts believe it has a more uplifting experience, only you can determine if that is the case for you. Every strain is different. 
  • Hybrid: A hybrid strain is just that: a combination of indica and sativa strains. There are different types of hybrid strains available. For instance, you can find well-balanced 50/50 hybrid strains like White Widow, but you can also find strains that lean in one direction or another—like Pineapple Express which is a sativa-dominant hybrid.
  • Hemp: Hemp is specially grown cannabis that contains less than 0.3% THC. Hemp is used for a variety of reasons, including CBD products, clothing, textiles, and more. Hemp is heavily regulated in the United States and requires special licenses and certifications to grow. 

Learn More About the Cannabis Plant

Cannabis plants are fascinating, and they contain chemicals we still don’t fully understand. If you’re interested in learning more about cannabis plants, why not visit us at a dispensary near you? Not only are we always happy to talk to other cannabis enthusiasts like us, but we can connect you with the right products to suit your needs. 

Recreational cannabis is not available in all states. Cannabis is for medical use only and may only be used by certified patients in Pennsylvania. State laws impact what dispensaries can and can’t sell to recreational customers and certified patients. Not every type of product, consumption method, dosage form, or potency mentioned on this blog will be permitted in all locations.