The stigmas of the pistil begin with a white coloration and progressively darken to yellow, orange, red, or brown over the course of the plant’s maturation. They play an important role in reproduction, but stigmas bring very little to the flower’s potency and taste.
Males and females are usually only pollinated when crossbreeding plants or creating new strains.
A cola, also called a “bud site,” refers to a cluster of buds that grow tightly together. While smaller colas occur along the budding sites of lower branches, the main cola—sometimes called the apical bud—forms at the top of the plant.
Females are the prizes of cannabis plants—they are the ones that grow the buds that we all know and love. Anytime you see a picture of a cannabis plant with buds, you are looking at a female plant.
While both result in pollen production, true hermaphrodite cannabis plants produce sacs that need to rupture; anthers are exposed, pollen-producing stamen.
Female pre-flowers also develop at the nodes. You can distinguish them based on one obvious visual characteristic: hairs. Female pre-flowers feature tear-drop shaped calyxes with small hairs protruding from the tip. These small hairs, known as pistils, are the sex organs of female cannabis flowers.
“Banana” hermaphrodites get their name from their physical characteristics. Instead of producing separate organs, they develop a bare pollen-producing stamen within the female flower. This naked appendage drops pollen directly onto buds to ensure self-reproduction. These stamens share a similar shape and colour to a certain tropical fruit, hence their name.
IDENTIFYING HERMAPHRODITE CANNABIS PLANTS
Male and female plants look identical during the seedling and vegetative phases. But, as they begin to transition into the flowering phase, plants finally begin to reveal their sex. During this time, females produce resinous buds loaded with cannabinoids, and males form sacs filled with pollen.
Even if you have all of these bases covered, plants can still pollinate themselves due to poor genetics. Plants with a bad genetic history and too much genetic variation are prone to becoming hermaphrodites. For this reason, it’s important to shop with reputable companies that offer high-quality seeds with stable genetics.
Male pre-flowers look like tiny green eggs or “balls”. These young pollen sacs will look smooth and won’t possess any fine hairs, or any distinct point. Later into the flowering stage, pollen sacs begin to form larger and denser clusters. They’ll become easy to identify with the naked eye by this point. However, pollen sacs usually begin to disperse their contents around 2–3 weeks after forming. Be sure to remove them from your space with haste if you don’t plan on crossing your plants.
Despite their differences, all female plants share one thing in common: they produce flowers. These flowers, colloquially known as buds, possess small glandular structures called trichomes that produce cannabinoids such as THC and CBD.
You might not get much of a high from smoking male plant material, but power comes in numbers. By processing male plants to make hash and concentrates, you’ll condense a small number of cannabinoids into a potent extract. You can make hash by sifting dried plant material, but you should know: you’ll need a lot of it to make the endeavour worthwhile.
You can either throw the plants directly onto the soil using the crude chop and drop technique, or add them onto your compost pile to accelerate their decomposition through the magic of aerobic microbes.
If you have a rather large garden, you can potentially locate a dedicated space for your male plants. Keep them as far from your females as you can. You can further help reduce the risk of accidental pollination by planting sunflowers to create a natural barrier between your males and females. This allows you to cultivate incredible, smokable cannabis, without having to toss your male plants in fear of accidental pollination.
TO USE THEM AS MULCH
Male plants also make good ingredients in the kitchen. Decarboxylate your plant material and use it to infuse moderate levels of cannabinoids into drinks, cakes, and savoury dishes by whipping up a batch of cannabutter.
Those male plants took shape by pulling a lot of nutrients out of your soil. They mainly consist of carbon and nitrogen, but they harbour lots of other goodies too, such as valuable micronutrients. If you don’t plan on using them elsewhere, be sure to return those compounds back into your garden.
Who knows, you may at some point want to get started with textile making! This is definitely another area where you would want to keep your males, as they are especially useful for certain distinct purposes.
When you start breeding your own top-shelf bud, the male will contribute 50% of the genetic material. It just makes sense that you’d want to select the best male that you have as the donor.