Our editors pick the products and services we write about. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Learn more.


Why You Can Trust American Marijuana

American Marijuana has been a trusted cannabis site since 2014, with a team of experts in the field working to ensure you’re only receiving premium quality information.

Editorial Process Content Integrity

What's the Life Cycle of the Weed Plant?

Before we dive into weed plant anatomy, it’s important to know its life cycle:

  • Germination (3 to 10 days) – The period when seeds begin to sprout and make their way out of the soil.
  • Seedling (2 to 3 weeks) – The period when a plant begins developing its first cotyledon leaves.
  • Vegetative (3 to 16 weeks) – The juvenile period of the plant, where you’ll notice the emergence of stalks, branches, stems, and fan leaves.
  • Flowering (8 to 11 weeks) – The period when buds begin to form on the cannabis plant.

Cannabis Plant Parts

In order to develop a deep understanding of weed plant anatomy, we’ve put together a list of the most important cannabis plant parts:

Cannabis Seeds

When pollinated, female cannabis plants will carry seeds. These seeds can be genetically female and/or male.

To grow cannabis, you’ll need to properly germinate seeds. While there are a number of ways to go about this, all will lead to the seed sprouting and growing into a taproot.

If you’re only looking for feminized cannabis seeds, we invite you to check out our guide!

Cotyledon Leaves

Simply put, the cotyledon is referring to the first leaves your cannabis plants produce. If you see your plant producing these in a pair, then germination was successful and you’re on your way to growing marijuana!

Cannabis Roots

Earlier, we used the term “taproot” which refers to the main root of the cannabis plant. This grows from the main stalk and will produce a series of other roots.

All of these are vital to the life of your cannabis plant. It’s vital these roots get enough water and oxygen in order to keep your plant strong and healthy.

Cannabis Plant Stem

Your plant’s main stem (sometimes referred to as a “stalk”) grows directly from the root system. This helps to maintain the stability of your plant while also allowing it to develop structure.

If you’re interested in having your plant create more buds, it’s worth topping the stem once five nodes (see below for definition) grow.

Cannabis Stem

Cannabis Branches

From the main stem, a series of branches will grow out that produce fan leaves and buds.

Cannabis Nodes

Simply put, a node is where a branch and the main stem of the cannabis plant meet. This is one of the key parts when growing marijuana due to the fact that nodes produce buds. Furthermore, nodes can be used to determine the sex of your cannabis plant.

Fan Leaves

Simply put, these are the iconic leaves we often attach to marijuana. When it comes to the growth cycle, they play a key role as they catch the sunlight used to feed the plant. On top of this, if your cannabis plant struggles with nutrient deficiencies, fan leaves will often be an early indicator.

Sugar Leaves

Within the nodes of your cannabis plant, you may find sugar leaves. Since these are coated in resin, they’re often trimmed and used in pre-roll products or extracts.


Also referred to as “buds,” the flower of your cannabis plant will contain all the cannabinoids you’re seeking out, from tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to cannabidiol (CBD).

Such buds will only be found on female cannabis plants. On top of this, they can only be consumed once trimmed from the plant itself and dried.


Sometimes referred to as the “bud site,” colas are clusters of cannabis flower that grow tightly together. You’ll find these occur in two ways:

  • Small clusters growing along the lower branches
  • The main cola (also known as the “apical bud”) growing at the top of the plant.


Simply put, a bract is the female cannabis plant’s reproductive parts. This looks like a green tear-shaped leaf and is heavily coated in resin. Since it’s how the plant reproduces, it also contains the highest concentration of cannabinoids.

Stigma and Pistil

Cannabis pistils are reproductive parts of the buds. They will produce stigmas that appear as hair-like strands and take on a white coloration. However, they can darken over time and become yellow, orange, red, or brown.

When it comes to reproduction, stigmas play a vital role in collecting pollen from male plants. But when it comes to consumption, stigmas and pistils do little in adding to the effects of cannabis.


While small in size, trichomes will completely cover cannabis buds – appearing as a powdery material from a distance. However, when observed up close, trichomes have a translucent, mushroom shape.

Trichomes ooze aromatic oils which are meant to protect the cannabis plant from pests and predators. These aromatic oils are referred to as terpenes and actually have a number of potential health benefits, similar to cannabinoids.

Cannabis Trichomes

Weed Plant Anatomy FAQs