Cones, hemp inflorescences

Cannabis, botanically speaking, is an annual, dioecious flowering plant. In this regard, hemp differs little from its closely related nettles and hops. Dioecious means that the plants are separated by sex into males and females. Growers are not interested in male bushes in terms of effect. The cannabinoid content in them is low, so they are of no great value either in terms of recreational or medical use. Female cannabis plants are a different matter. All of their parts, except for the roots, contain active substances: cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes. Their greatest concentration is observed in the inflorescences (about 10 times more than in the leaves), which, in fact, are the main cherished goal of the cannabis grower.

Significantly different in appearance (from a half-meter cola cut from a huge Sativa bush to miniature nuts grown in a stealth box), the buds have almost the same structure and structure.

Anatomy of a female cannabis flower

Cones are concise, spike-like inflorescences made up of many separate small flowers. Each of them is extremely simple, for which there are objective reasons (about them below). Small flowers are collected in the leaf axils in pairs. The basis of the female flower is a pistil with a single-celled ovary and two feathery stigmas fused at the base – stigmas, the task of which is to catch pollen flying in the air. Stigma is often called pistils, but they are only part of it.

Typically, stigmas are white or yellowish in color and darken as they mature, turning brown or orange. Some varieties of cannabis have paired stigmas colored pink, purple or bluish. Closer to harvest, they also become darker, turning into dark red, brown or purple hairs. Each individual flower is wrapped in a cap, consisting of five accrete microscopic leaves that form a calyx. The leaves covering the ovary (bracts) are covered with trichomes, which produce a resin rich in cannabinoids and other active substances.

More about trichomes
Cannabis has six types of trichomes: three non-ferrous and three ferruginous, which produce resin. Cystolith trichomes (these are cells of the secretory tissue of plants containing deposits of calcium carbonate) are the most prominent of the non-ferrous ones, since these needle-like hairs cover all aerial parts of the plant: stems, branches, leaves, petioles and flowers. The large hairs of cystoliths provide protection from insects and probably make the plant less attractive to animals. Cystolith hairs also reflect too intense solar radiation, reduce water loss and improve surface temperature. The other two types of non-glandular trichomes are visible only at magnification. They are found mainly on the underside of the leaves.

The resinous glands of the corresponding trichomes synthesize and concentrate cannabinoids and terpenes. They are of three types: bulbous, sessile, and mushroom.

The bulb glands are tiny. They are present on the first formed leaves and are found on stems, branches, leaves and flowers. Although ubiquitous, their contribution to total cannabinoid concentration at harvest is negligible due to their microscopic size.

Sessile trichomes are much larger. They have their own stems that are so short that they are almost impossible to see. Hence the name “sedentary”. These glands are likely to contribute to the overall concentration of cannabinoids due to their greater size and presence on flowers, leaves and petioles.

The mushroom glands are the largest and most productive. This is the main source of synthesis and accumulation of cannabinoids, they are clearly visible on female inflorescences. While almost all cannabis cells are capable of producing small amounts of cannabinoids, trichomes contain at least 50% of the total amount in the plant.

Since female flowers (buds) are the main product of the marijuana plant and are the site of the highest concentration of resin-coated trichomes, they are the main source of cannabinoids and terpenes.

Male plants also form all of these trichomes, and before the flowering phase, the concentration of cannabinoids is the same for male and female plants. But once flowering occurs, female plants produce a lot more cannabinoids than male plants. The largest resin glands on male flowers, comparable in size to female flowers, form a line on either side of the anthers, commonly called “bananas”.

It was once thought that cannabinoids, including THC, were produced by green plant tissue and then transported outside into trichomes during flowering, but more recent studies have shown that trichomes produce terpenes and cannabinoids themselves.

Flower cups (calix)

Another component of the cone is sugar casting. They differ from large fan-shaped ones not only in size, but also in that they are densely covered with resinous trichomes (there are usually no trichomes on fan leaves). Actually, because of these shiny droplets of resin, similar to grains of fine sugar, they got their name. Despite the high cannabinoid content, these leaves are removed by trimming. The fact is that they contain a large amount of chlorophyll and fiber, which, when burned, gives the smoke an unpleasant taste. But they should not be thrown away either – sugar leaves are an excellent raw material for obtaining canna oil, hashish and other concentrates.

Why are hemp flowers so dim?
Cannabis pollination occurs under the influence of the wind, pollen can scatter several kilometers from the male plant. In this process, the participation of insect pollinators in marijuana is not required. Accordingly, bright colors are also useless. And if so, the hemp inflorescences are natural, most often green. Nature is rational – everything that is not of practical use dies off and is discarded in the process of evolution.

Although I must say that some varieties have a beautiful color in the red-blue-violet range. Unlike the flowers familiar to gardeners, here the color is not carried by the petals, but by the leaves and sepals themselves, which are at the top of the plant. The plant pigments anthocyanins are responsible for the blue or purple color of hemp. This property of plants is most clearly manifested closer to the harvest, when the inflorescences ripen and at the same time are exposed to low night temperatures.

The yellow, red and orange hues give the colas carotenoids. They are especially active in plants growing on alkaline soils with a pH of 5.0 or even lower. In fresh inflorescences, this color is not so noticeable, as it is drowned out by a brighter green, but as it dries and cures, when the green chlorophyll breaks down, yellow-orange tones may appear brighter.


Sensimiglia (from the Spanish sin semilla – without seeds) are cannabis inflorescences that have reached their maturity without being pollinated. They contain much more active substances than those flowers that have been fertilized by male plants. This happens because as soon as the seeds begin to set and develop, the plant directs all its forces to their development, significantly reducing the production of the cannabinoid THC. If pollination has not occurred, then, on the contrary, hemp spends the main resources to maintain flowering and the production of resin rich in cannabinoids.

Indica cones

Indica varieties trace their ancestry from areas with harsh and often arid climates. Small flowers with a strong calyx, collected in dense colas, are maximally adapted to retain moisture in drought and withstand night frosts or sandstorms. But in high humidity conditions, the strengths of Indica turn into weakness. If it often rains in your area in the fall, and even at low temperatures, dense buds do not have time to dry out, creating favorable conditions for the development of mold.

When drying Indica buds, you also need to pay attention. If the humidity in the drying room is too high, then the risk of contamination of the crop with fungus lies in wait for the grower here too. It is required to provide good ventilation so that the inflorescences are not damaged.

Sativa Blossoms

The homeland of Sativa is the tropical and equatorial regions of Asia. The inflorescences of this type of cannabis are adapted to humid climates. They are looser, each flower is larger. Thanks to this structure, sativa buds dry out easily even after heavy rains. But only in warm and preferably sunny weather. Do not expect that Sativa will be able to withstand the damp and cold autumn that is typical for the middle lane.

During drying, you need to pay attention to humidity and temperature, as in heat sativa can easily dry out too quickly, before all biochemical reactions in the cut plants are over and most of the chlorophyll is destroyed. This, most likely, will not affect the fortress, but for the taste and aroma – for sure. And not for the better.

Cones, hemp inflorescences
Scroll to top