The cannabis stalk is the primary support structure and central stem of the plant. It must be thick and sturdy enough to maintain the weight of the buds that develop during the flowering process. In hemp strains of the cannabis plant, hemp fibers are extracted from the stalk.
Nodes of the Cannabis Plant
Nodes occur at every location where a secondary stem branches out from the central stalk. They are essentially the “joints” of the cannabis plant, and the higher nodes are where buds will begin to grow during the flowering stage. (If you practice screen of green techniques or an other LST method, nodes on the lower parts of the plant could also develop buds.)
Too much or too little vertical space between nodes can indicate too much or too little temperature fluctuation between your hours of light and hours of dark. Really long distances between nodes can also be an indication of stretching, which means your plants may not be getting enough light (they’re “stretching” up to find light).
The flowers of the cannabis plant are the buds, which are harvested, dried, and ingested. The highest concentration of cannabinoids – the compounds such as THC and CBD that give cannabis its medical qualities – are found on the flowers of the plant, and when during the life cycle these flowers are harvested can greatly affect the concentration of different cannabinoids.
The majority of the cannabis plant’s flowers will develop near the top of the plant and the higher nodes, during the flowering stage.
Cola of Cannabis Plant
A cola (sometimes spelled “kola”) is a cluster of cannabis flowers or buds. The site from which the buds develop, it is also called the “terminal bud”. A main cola forms in a stacked arrangement at the top of the plant, and smaller bud sites can also develop at the nodes of other stems lower down. The size of the main and secondary colas can be controlled by special growing methods such as low stress training (LST).
The calyx is the distinct female flower, which forms as budding begins, early in the flowering stage. The tear-shaped tube – often green and fuzzy, with separate sections called sepals – contains the pistles and ovule, the reproductive organs of the flower. When growing cannabis for bud production, these organs remain unused.
Calyxes can be seen scattered through the colas, protruding from among the buds.
Trichomes are microscopic glands that grow on the calyxes, buds and leaves of the cannabis plant. During the flowering stage, the trichomes produce resin, the most highly concentrated collection of cannabinoids on the plant. They also produce an aromatic oil called terpene, which determines the scent and flavour of different cannabis strains.
From a distance, resinous trichomes make the buds of the cannabis plant appear frosted or crystalized. Under a magnifying glass, it is possible to see the bulbous tops of the trichomes, which continue to expand as the resin builds.
What Is Cannabis Resin For?
Resin develops on cannabis plants to protect it from insects and various elements. Since such protection is rarely required for indoor growing, some growers place the plants under light stress to encourage heavier development of this cannabinoid-rich substance. Some cannabis strains are specifically bred for higher trichome production, particularly for the production of concentrates like hashish.
Pistils on Pot Plants
Originally gathered inside the calyx, the pistils of the cannabis plant emerge during the flowering stage as thin, white hairs. Biologically, they serve to catch the pollen from the male plants, but since no male plants are involved in the production of medical cannabis, pistils serve no life cycle purpose, and do little to affect flavour or potency.
The pistils are useful, however, for alerting growers to the harvest time of the plant. Throughout the flowering stage, the pistils darken in colour to red, brown or orange, and begin to curl. The cannabis is generally considered ready for harvest when 50-90% of the pistils – depending on the desired effects – have darkened.
Fan or Sun Leaves of the Cannabis Plant
The fan leaves are the iconic part of the cannabis plant, that recognizable, multi-fingered leaf synonymous with marijuana. These large leaves grow off the stems all along the plant, and transform sun (or artificial) light energy into chemical energy through photosynthesis, providing food for the plant.
Removing the Fan Leaves
Growers will often trim away the fan leaves near the bottom of the plant (where they are not getting much light, and therefore serving little purpose) in order to make tending the plants easier, and to more heavily direct the plant’s energy to producing buds. All the fan leaves are removed upon harvest of the cannabis, and some growers use them for tea and other types of consumption.
Though discarded after harvest, fan leaves serve as a good determination of plant health: different changes in colour, texture, or vitality can indicate different deficiencies and other potential problems while they are still reversible. See Diseases and Pests for more information.
Marijuana Sugar Leaves
Sugar leaves are the little leaves that grow within the cannabis buds and colas. Due to their location in the midst of trichome production, they generally have a high cannabinoid concentration and lots of resin (they appear “sugared”, hence the name).
Though the tips of the sugar leaves are trimmed during harvest, the bottoms are often left to maintain that concentration. The tips can be used in medical cannabis edibles. Gardeners who make hash from the excess parts of their harvested plants may also include these tips for this purpose, along with other resinous sections removed from the buds.