Cannabis Flowers: The Anatomy Of Buds

Cola all the way from heaven, beautiful golden bud

As cannabis is dioecious, there is a distinct male and female version of the plant. A marijuana bud is made up of all the regular parts of a flower, along with some extras like trichomes. There are three main types of cannabis species; Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis, and they all share the same traits.

What Is Sinsemilla?

Diagram of a flower

Only female plants are chosen to be grown out, this method of growing is called sinsemilla and leads to seedless marijuana buds that are better for smoking and that have increased strength. Male flowers are not psychoactive and seeds taste harsh when smoked, often leading to mild headaches. As commercial and recreational cannabis growers are concerned with the psychoactive components of cannabis, unless a breeding program is being undertaken, they grow sinsemilla. The main reason for this is that the female flowers become stressed in search for some male pollen and exude more trichomes in an effort to 'catch' some pollen in the wind from a male plant in order to reproduce.

By sexing the plants as soon as they flower or show clear growth traits, science has also become involved in an ever growing obsession with controlling and manipulating the already perfect systems of nature for commercial gain. By sexing the plants faster or growing female only plants using tissue culture, time can be saved growing the incorrect sex of plant in a commercial operation. Feminised seeds is also another example, with a mixed past and reputation for altering nature akin to genetic modification, sadly with unknown and difficult to study long term health effects.

What Are Trichomes?

Close Up of Trichomes, green and fresh

Trichomes are the magic in cannabis and contain all the major psychoactive ingredients such as delta9 thc, thcp, cbn, cbd and more. Clear fine mushroom like structures, or glandular hairs that appear directly on the buds of the cannabis flower have a distinct round head and long stem. Under a microscope or via macro photography, a trichome is very beautiful. These are processed into hashish, charas, smoked whole as marijuana or processed via pharmaceutical grade extraction.

Marijuana Buds Are Beautiful!

The structure of a cannabis flower is the same as regular flowers, with pistols, calyx, and stamens. They are stunningly beautiful and represent all the colours and hues of the rainbow. Not only loved by mankind, bees are also particularly fond of the flower and collect nectar from cannabis. An Australian company is currently extracting cannabis honey by growing commercial cannabis crops at a honey producer.

Start Of the Cannabis Flowering Cycle

Pink Pistils on a Cannabis Flower

When the flower forms, it starts life as a small hair or pistil on the main stem of the plant at the intersection of the node. Different cannabis types and strains flower at different times, generally speaking Cannabis ruderalis will flower first then Cannabis indica, with Cannabis sativa taking longer. The average flower time for modern strains is around 7 to 9 weeks, sativa varietals taking longer due to the plant being larger and requiring more light due to it's tropical and sub-tropical origins. Pistils may end up many different colours on the finished flower, ranging from yellow to orange, red, purple and pink.

Around each of these pistils (hairs) forms a bud or calyx, and these buds grow into colas. The calyx represent the reproductive organs of the cannabis plant and contain all the vitals to those interested in the psychoactive benefits. These calyx spiral around the stem as they grow in fibonacci sequence, forming colas. A cola is the total flower that's smoked or processed and they are also called buds. So you have flower buds that are really the calyx and also the final marijuana buds that are also referred to as colas.

What's Next?

In the next section GROW will take a journey through the flowering cycle from the first pistol forming to the final product, the marijuana buds.

Also see our glossary of cannabis terms used in Australia.