The fundamental goal of cannabis cultivation is to yield a large, potent harvest. Growers interested in maximizing their harvest must ensure they do everything throughout the lifecycle of their plants to produce an abundance of dense, resinous buds.
Most cannabis cultivation operations are heavily focused on the plant’s flowers that contain the compounds that lend to its psychoactive, medicinal, and therapeutic effects. These coveted blooms grow tightly clustered together in what’s known as the cannabis cola.
From its chemical structure to its anatomy, cannabis is a very complex plant. It comprises several different parts and contains over 550 chemical compounds, many of which are responsible for its therapeutic effects.
Here we’ll take a brief look at the cannabis plant’s anatomy, largely focusing on the cola. Equipped with a better understanding of the plant’s cola and basic plant anatomy, growers know exactly what’s needed to maximize their yields.
The Cannabis Cola: Understanding Plant Anatomy To Increase Your Yields
The flower is largely considered the most important part of the cannabis plant. Every part of its anatomy plays an important role in the development of the resinous buds that form the cola.
At the most basic level, cannabis flower anatomy consists of the following:
- Seeds: Without cannabis seeds, there would be no cannabis. Seeds form within the plant’s flowers, inside what is known as the bract.
- Bract: Also referred to as the seed pod, bracts are small tear-shaped leaves coated in resin that envelop the female reproductive glands.
- Calyx: Contained within the bract, the calyx covers the plant’s ovule (the organ that forms the seeds of flowering female plants) and protects buds during development.
- Pistils: Pistils are the reproductive organs of the female cannabis plant. They contain the stigma, bract, and ovule.
- Stigma: These are the small “hairs” that sprout from the plant’s pistils, which start white and change color as the buds mature.
- Cotyledons: These are the very first two leaves to develop on the plant after germination, with the first “real” leaves of the plant sprouting from their center.
- Stem: Like other plants, cannabis has a main stem that supports branches, leaves, and flowers.
- Branches: Branches grow off the main stem and help support the fan leaves and the cola.
- Nodes: Nodes are where various branches jut out from the stem.
- Cola: The plant produces one main cola, which is a cluster of tiny, dense buds.
- Trichomes: These are the resin glands that cover cannabis buds and sugar leaves. They produce and contain cannabis compounds like cannabinoids and terpenes that lend to a cultivar’s unique profile and effects.
- Fan Leaves: Fan leaves emerge from the cotyledon as the plant matures. These large, serrated leaves are necessary for photosynthesis. They absorb water, sun, and carbon dioxide to create sugars and other nutrients.
- Sugar Leaves: These are the small, resinous leaves that surround cannabis flowers. Like fan leaves, they play a large role in photosynthesis. They also contain cannabis compounds such as cannabinoids and terpenes, which is why they’re typically saved after flowers are trimmed to create extracts, kief, or hash.
From the planting of a single seed to the final harvest of cannabis flowers, every part of the plant’s anatomy plays a vital role throughout its lifecycle.
Once a seed sprouts into a cotyledon, the plant begins to grow and develop. During the first phase of plant growth, known as the vegetative stage, the main stem grows taller, and branches and fan leaves begin to develop.
The second phase of plant growth, known as the flowering stage, is when the plant’s cola slowly starts to form with stigmas emerging from the plant’s pistils. Sugar leaves grow around the small buds that form the cola, protecting the plant’s delicate blooms and offering stability and structure to individual buds.
Once the cola has reached maturity, which is typically when approximately 70% of the stigmas on buds have turned from milky white to golden amber, the plants are ready to harvest.
What Is The Cannabis Cola?
When left to grow on their own in nature, female cannabis plants produce one main flower that grows at the top of the plant’s main stem. Known as the cola (or kola), it’s composed of a cluster of tight buds that grow closely together. Smaller colas often sprout on lower branches at certain bud sites, but the main cola grows at the very top of the plant. This main cola is also referred to as the apical bud.
Because there is only one main cola that naturally occurs on female plants, growers typically manipulate plants with various pruning techniques to encourage the growth of several flowering sites. Training and pruning techniques include:
- Super cropping
- Sea of Green (SOG)
- Screen of Green (SCROG)
- Low-stress training (LST)
All will increase the number of “main shoots,” ultimately leading to a greater number of colas.
Topping, for example, is a cannabis pruning method that involves cutting off the top of the plant’s main stem so that it splits into two stems. Doing this allows for the growth of two colas rather than one main cola. Topping plants a few times will significantly increase the number of colas on the plant.
The Anatomy of The Cannabis Cola
Like the cannabis plant itself, the cola contains its own unique anatomy. Gaining a better understanding of cola anatomy can help growers cultivate large, dense buds that contribute to higher yields at harvest.
Take a deeper look at cannabis cola anatomy:
Pistils are the reproductive organs of the female cannabis plant. There’s a common misunderstanding that pistils are the small “hairs” on cannabis flowers, but these hairs are actually called stigmas. Within the pistil are three parts: the stigma, the bract, and the ovule. Together they make up what’s known as the pistillate flower. Clusters of pistillate flowers are better known as buds.
As mentioned, stigmas are the little hairs that sprout from pistils. The function of stigmas is to accumulate pollen from male cannabis plants. Stigmas will start out white, and as buds develop while the plant matures, they will change in color to amber or orange as the plant reaches full maturity.
The bract is sometimes referred to as the cannabis seed pod because it covers the seed. Bracts are small tear-shaped leaves that surround the pistil and stigma. Like cannabis buds and sugar leaves, bracts are covered in resin.
The calyx is the very first thing to form when the female plant starts to flower. Located at the base of the flower, the calyx typically appears as several small leaves. Contained within the calyx are the pistil and stigma. Once developed, it serves as a protective layer for the flower, with budding flower petals forming inside. As the cannabis plant matures and flowers continue to form, the calyx will eventually open up to reveal the pistils. The calyx is important as it contains the plant’s reproductive organs (pistils) and trichomes.
Most experienced cannabis cultivators would agree that trichomes are the most important part of the cannabis cola, as they contain cannabinoids and terpenes. These are the sticky, crystal-like formations that cover buds and sugar leaves. There are three types of trichomes: bulbous, capitate-sessile, and capitate-stalked.
Bulbous trichomes are the smallest trichomes on cannabis. They’re difficult to see with the naked eye but can play a role in synthesizing cannabinoids and terpenes.
Capitate-sessile trichomes are a bit larger and can be found in small amounts on fan leaves, stems, and calyxes. They do contain cannabinoids, but not nearly as abundantly as capitate-stalked trichomes.
Shaped like a mushroom with a large, bulbous head, capitate-stalked are the most abundant and largest cannabis trichomes. They contain the highest concentration of oils, producing an abundance of beneficial compounds like cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. Hash products, like bubble hash and dry sift hash, are created solely from these sticky, resinous trichomes.
The Importance Of The Cannabis Cola
The resinous flowers of female cannabis plants are highly valued; the largest buds filled with trichomes are primarily found in the cola.
Due to its rich abundance of trichomes that house essential compounds such as cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids, the cola is a crucial and highly important part of the plant. Colas with a high concentration of trichomes are typically more potent, as they contain a higher percentage of these beneficial compounds.
On the female cannabis plant, a single cola occurs naturally. Manipulating the cola through various training and pruning techniques will help increase the number of colas on each plant, ultimately leading to larger yields and increased profits.
It’s easy to see why colas are prized by cannabis cultivators and consumers alike. Aside from their rich concentration of cannabinoids and terpenes, colas are also revered for their photogenic properties. Huge, dense colas are extremely appealing to the eye, making them an important asset in business marketing efforts.
The Cannabis Cola Advantage
Understanding more about cannabis plant anatomy can provide growers with the knowledge they need to grow the highest quality plants and increase overall yields. At Triminator, everything we do is focused on fulfilling the needs of growers by offering solutions to increase productivity and profitability in the rapidly growing cannabis industry. We invite you to contact us to learn more about how we can help support your cultivation efforts with our comprehensive range of cannabis and hemp processing equipment.