Cannabis Anatomy: Identifying Males and Females

Female and male plants are distinguishable by what grows between their nodes.


When we think of cannabis, our minds are drawn to the flowers; the very part of the plant that we admire for the abundance of trichomes, and end up smoking.

What some of us aren’t familiar with, is that we’re smoking the unfertilized flowers of female plants. Male cannabis plants don’t produce the same flowers as females, causing them to contain far less THC and other cannabinoids that the plant is so well-known for.

Growers must remain vigilant in their production of female plants, since they’re the ones that make the profits. However, male plants play an important role in reproduction, ultimately supplying the seeds needed for popular strains and genetics consumers both need and want.

Identifying male and female plants is crucial. This is an important part of cultivation, because we don’t want to grow males next to females - accidentally pollinating our crops and causing the female plants to focus their energy on producing more seeds rather than buds. Pollination is only needed when more seeds are needed, and this form of cannabis production accounts for a small sector of its cultivation industry, with clones being prominent since genetics remain the same.

Female and male plants are distinguishable by what grows between their nodes, or rather, where branches and leaves extend from the stalk. Typically, these pre-flowers begin to grow at around four weeks into cultivation, and at six weeks you should be able to successfully separate your males from your females.

Female plants produce small pistillate bracts, meaning their sex is easily spotted by white hair-like extrusions popping out from little bulbs at the crux of its branches and stalk.

Male plants produce clusters of pollen sacs in the crux of the branch and stalk, having no tiny hairs popping out of them.

Once the plants are identified, you can separate them, grow your female buds, and keep select males for any planned pollination.