Cannabis Anatomy: The 5 Major Components

The plant has five major components to it that can be easily identified, whether it’s a male or female variation.


Learning the basic components of a cannabis plant should be at the top of every consumer’s list. While you may or may not be a cannabis connoisseur, knowing what your ingesting is a fundamental code everyone should follow.

The plant has five major components to it that can be easily identified, whether it’s a male or female variation.

The first are its fan leaves. The iconic silhouette of seven, sometimes five lengthy leaves are easily recognizable since it’s a symbol encrusted on so many cannabis products. This is the first thing you’ll distinguish when looking at cannabis in its natural and unprocessed form.

The next are its colas. A cola is a cluster of buds growing together, and a cannabis plant will produce a large one at the top called an apical bud, with smaller colas along the budding sites of lower branches. The colas are what get trimmed and sold as the cannabis buds you buy and smoke. Colas are covered with the next piece of anatomy you’ll identify: the trichomes.

Trichomes are the tiny bulbous nodules that grow on the surface of the flowers on a microscopic level, most abundant on the colas of the female cannabis plant. It’s where most of the cannabinoid production takes place, and to the naked eye they look like a dusting of tiny sugar-like crystals. Male plants produce far less trichomes and thus cannabinoids, meaning their crystal-like appearance won’t be as obvious.

As we look closer at the plant’s anatomy, we can find something called a calyx. They’re the tiny, round platforms that stabilize the flowers, filled with cannabinoids and bunches of trichomes. They can be found on both male and female plants, but female plants will have pistils poking out of them.

And finally, pistils are the last important component of a cannabis plant – again, found on females. They help cultivators recognize when a plant is ready for harvest, starting out white and progressively turning either amber or yellow, sometimes red, signifying harvest time. If the pistils have turned brown, you’ve waited too long to harvest, and the plant may begin to dry out. Their ultimate purpose, however, is to collect pollen from male plants for reproduction.