CANNABIS 101 | ANATOMY of the Cannabis Plant



Female cannabis flowers, or buds, can be identified by their tear-dropped shape. The top of the female cannabis plant produces a flower, referred to as the cola. Flowers are held together by the calyx and supported by sugar leaves. They are covered by hair-like pistols and tiny opaque crystals called trichomes. A high concentration of trichomes on a flower is a good indication of quality.


Also known as resin or keif, trichomes are the tiny, mushroom-shaped, hair-like appendages that give the cannabis plant a frosty, crystal-like sheen. These sticky, aromatic structures produce and store the plant’s cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids – the therapeutic compounds. The glue-like coating of trichomes serves as the first line of defense against pests and other environmental factors during cultivation. Trichomes cover the entire cannabis plant during its flowering stage, but are most visible to the naked eye on the buds and sugar leaves.

Sugar Leaves

These little leaves begin to appear close to the buds during the flowering stage of the life cycle. They derive their name from their sugar-coated appearance due to the presence of trichomes. Although not as potent as the flower, sugar leaves can be used for concentrates, edibles and can be consumed by inhalation. In the growing process, sugar leaves help support the flowers as they bloom.

Fan Leaves

The largest and most recognizable leaves on the cannabis plant, fan leaves are responsible for photosynthesis. The physical appearance of fan leaves is helpful for growers, as they can show visible signs of the plant’s overall health. Unlike sugar leaves, fan leaves contain trace amounts of cannabinoids and are rarely used after harvest.


Climate and the environment impact the physical and chemical characteristics of a plant. In colder mountainous regions like India and the Middle East, small bushy plants, once referred to as indicas, grow naturally. In warmer tropical places like Central and South America, taller slender cannabis plants, once referred to as sativas, thrive. These different types of plants were originally categorized based on their appearance and their effects after consumption.

Over time, cannabis breeders have crossed many genetic variations of cannabis from all over the world to create the extensive and creatively named strain library that we know today. While it is now largely accepted that there is no molecular difference between the originally classified “indica” and “sativa” plants and that all strains are now essentially “hybrids,” these outdated indica/sativa/hybrid designations are still widely attributed to strain types. In actuality, the different combinations of cannabinoids and terpenes identified by the plant’s ingredient profile are more accurate indicators of a particular strain’s effects on the human body.


Physical Characteristics

  • Narrow Leaves
  • Slender & Tall Plant
  • Airy Buds
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Psychological and Physiological Characteristics

  • Energetic
  • Cerebral
    (Creative, Uplifting, Energetic)
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Recommended Time of Use

  • Daytime

Dominant Terpenes

  • Alpha-pinene, D-limonene, Humulene
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  • Central Asia, Central & South America


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Physical Characteristics

  • Broad Leaves
  • Shorty & Bushy Plant
  • Dense Buds
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Psychological and Physiological Characteristics

  • Relaxing
  • Bodily
    (Pain Relief, Sleep Aid, Appetite Inducing)
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Recommended Time of Use

  • Nighttime

Dominant Terpenes

  • Myrcene, Caryophyllene, Linalool


  • India & Middle East


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Hybrids are often attributed characteristics from both sativa and indica strains. It is widely accepted that most strains available today are in fact a hybrid of the original sativa and indica designations. The different combinations of cannabinoids and terpenes identified by the plant’s ingredient profile are the best indicators of a particular strain’s effects.



Plant-derived cannabinoids (phytocannabinoids) are naturally occurring chemical compounds found in the trichomes of cannabis plants. When consumed, these compounds interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, a complex network of receptors found throughout the body. The two main cannabinoid receptors are CB1 and CB2. When cannabinoids interact with these receptors, the effects of consumption can be felt.

There are more than 100 different cannabinoids, but the two most common are Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD).

THC molecule

THC Effects

  • Euphoria
  • Altered Senses of Sight, Smell & Hearing
  • Appetite Stimulant
  • Analgesic
  • Relaxation
cbd molecule diagram

CBD Effects

  • Anxiety Reducing
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Neuroprotective
  • Convulsion Relief
  • Counteracts the effects of THC


Ever wonder what makes cannabis so fragrant? You can thank naturally occurring chemical compounds called terpenes.

While terpenes are present in most plants, cannabis plants produce a wide variety of them in high concentrations. From skunky to sweet, these aromas interact with cannabinoids to enhance the experience of consuming cannabis.

Think of terpenes as the aromatherapy components of the plant that are largely responsible for whether the strain will have a calming or energizing effect.



  • The most common found terpene in cannabis
  • Woody/earthy scent
  • Enhances the euphoric effects of THC
  • Sedating and muscle relaxing
  • Also found in Hops, mango, thyme


  • Floral scent
  • May lessen THC-induced anxiety
  • Sedating and calming
  • Also found in: Lavender, birch, rosewood


  • Most common terpene in nature
  • Piney scent
  • Bronchodilator
  • May aid in short-term memory loss associated with THC
  • Also found in: Pine needles, sage, rosemary


  • Only terpene known to interact with the endocannabinoid system
  • Peppery scent
  • May have anti-inflammatory effects
  • Also found in: Black pepper, cloves, oregano


  • Most commonly found terpene in citrus fruits
  • Sweet/citrus scent
  • Uplifting effects
  • Also found in: Citrus fruits, mint, juniper
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  • May have anti-inflammatory effects
  • May suppress appetite
  • May provide pain relief
  • Also found in: Cinnamon, ginseng, echinacea


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