What is the Difference Between Male and Female Marijuana Plants?

Female plants produce flowers that become “weed” after being harvested and dried. These resin-secreting flowers result in round “buds” or “nuggets” used for smoking. (This is what you buy at marijuana dispensaries.) Female cannabis plants look generally lusher with more branching than males and feature large floral structures called colas.

Marijuana male flowers, often referred to as “bananas”, exist in small clusters of flowers shaped like bells, that hang down and release pollen to pollinate female flowers. Female flowers have calyxes in a tear-shape with two pistils – usually white but often colored as the plant matures – that group together forming what we call buds

Marijuana is a dioecious plant that evenly produces plants with male and female flowering parts. As a result, cannabis seeds are 50/50 male/female ratio. However, with the use of certain chemicals like STS, female plants can be made to produce male flowers that when self-pollinated or pollinated with other females, results in feminized cannabis seed, or female-only seed. Additionally, plants that produce both male and female flowers, called hermaphrodites, can result naturally in some cultivars but typically upon stress events. This usually happens when plants are stressed out from pests, pathogens, diseases, and harsh environmental factors. The degree of hermaphroditism depends on the cultivar and stress event.

If you grow cannabis for products or flower, you need female plants. Female cannabis plants are responsible for flavorful THC and CBD-packed buds so they are in higher demand. Male cannabis plants are necessary if you want to produce your own seeds through cannabis breeding. Otherwise, remove male plants from your grow space so they do not fertilize your females and reduce the amount of quality flower you could produce.

While there is a lot of anecdotal evidence on differentiating males vs females early out there, it’s either incorrect or unreliable. The only easy way to tell if a cannabis plant is male or female before flowering is to do molecular DNA testing. You can do this as early as 7-10 days after germination when you can take a piece of the leaf without killing the plant.

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