What does marijuana look like? Well, the answer to this question depends on what, exactly, you’re asking about. When people use the term “marijuana,” they may be referring to marijuana plants or any number of products that can be made from marijuana. And, of course, a processed marijuana product will look very different from a live marijuana plant. Then, different marijuana products can look extremely different from each other.
With that said, no matter what type of marijuana you’re curious about, we’re here to help. Below, we’re detailing what marijuana plants look like, then going over what all the most popular marijuana products look like.
What Do Marijuana Plants Look Like?
Marijuana plants look similar to many other plants, but they have some clear distinguishing features. Like a lot of plants, marijuana plants have an even green color, a tall main stem, arching horizontal branches, flowers, and fan leaves. Yet, the look of marijuana’s fan leaves is very unique, as is the look of marijuana flowers.
Marijuana Fan Leaves
The green fan leaves of the cannabis plant are extremely recognizable to most people, since they’re commonly used as a symbol of marijuana in artwork and pop culture. These iconic leaves are large, protruding leaves that grow on the marijauana plant’s branches. They grow in groups that fan out, hence their name. Drawings of cannabis leaves usually depict them in groups of five or seven “fingers,” but note that marijuana fan leaves can have up to 13 leaves per group. Something that makes cannabis leaves look very distinctive among fan leaves is their edges. Marijuana fan leaves have serrated edges, which is an uncommon feature.
Note that the distinctive leaves on a marijuana plant are not the part of the plant that people smoke when they want to experience psychoactive effects or health effects from cannabis. These marijuana leaves are very low in cannabinoids like delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and (CBD), so people generally don’t consume them for recreational use or medical purposes. The role of fan leaves on marijuana plants is to fuel the plant by conducting photosynthesis.
The other highly distinctive part of the cannabis plant, the cannabis flower, is what people smoke for its cannabinoids. Cannabis flowers, found only on female marijuana plants, are very rich in cannabinoids, so they’re what people smoke and what manufacturers use to make various marijauana products.
Marijuana flowers look different from what most people think of when they imagine a flower. Cannabis flowers don’t have soft, colorful, unfurling petals. Instead, they have a dense, bud-like appearance. Cannabis flowers are small and tightly packed, with a core that’s made up of tiny leaves called brachts. Usually, cannabis flower leaves are green overall, but they can also be blue, purple, red, orange, or yellow. In addition to brachts, cannabis flowers feature sugar leaves, which are long thin leaves that spring out from the flower. These leaves get their name because they look like they’re coated in sugar.
Sugar leaves look “sugary” because they’re coated in trichomes, which are what make the cannabinoids found in cannabis flowers. Trichomes are tiny glands that produce a cannabinoid-rich resin. They’re found all over cannabis flowers and produce the most resin on the flower’s main body. From afar, trichomes look like sugar or translucent hair. Up close, you can see that trichomes have a bulbous tip that gives them a mushroom-like appearance.
Cannabis flowers may look “dusty” or “sugary” due to their trichomes, but they may also look hairy due to the stigmas of their pistils. Stigmas are small, hair-like growths that sprout out from the cannabis flower’s bracht with the goal of catching pollen so the flower can start growing seeds. These stigmas will change color during the flowering stage as a cannabis plant matures, going from white to yellow, orange, red, and/or brown. Generally, growers don’t want to pollinate their female cannabis plants, as seeds are undesirable in cannabis flowers. If a female plant is busy making seeds, it will make less resin, so seeded cannabis flowers tend to be lower in THC compared to sensimilla (unseeded) flowers. Still, stigmas can still serve a useful purpose for growers, who can use their color to decide when to harvest their flower.
Female vs. Male Marijuana Plants
Marijuana plants are dioecious, which means they can be male or female. However, the marijuana that’s cultivated for recreational use and medical marijuana is female, since only female plants grow flowers. Growers may cultivate male plants for crossbreeding purposes, but the vast majority of marijuana grown today is female.
If you want to tell female and male marijuana plants apart, look to see whether the marijuana plant has flowers or pollen sacs on its nodes. Nodes are the spaces where the plant’s main stem and branches meet. You can start telling the difference between pollen sacs and flowers around four to six weeks into the growing process, which is when pre-flowers will develop. At this stage, male plants will have small sacs at their nodes, while female plants will have two brachts.
Cannabis Sativa vs. Indica Plants
Cannabis sativa and cannabis indica are the two main species of cannabis plants. Both have fan leaves and (when female) flowers, but they have some overall differences in appearance. Cannabis indica plants are generally smaller and bushier than cannabis sativa plants, which are taller and more “stretched out.” Indica plants and sativa plants also have differences in the appearance of their leaves and flowers. Indica plants have broad leaves and compact flower buds, while sativa plants have narrow leaves and longer, thinner flower buds.
What Do Marijuana Products Look Like?
Marijuana plants can be turned into a variety of cannabis products and each has its own distinctive appearance. So, let’s go over what all of the most popular cannabis products look like, starting with what most people think of when they think of marijuana: marijuana flower.
Marijuana flower, also known as bud, is the smokable part of the marijuana plant. We described what live marijuana flower looks like above, but note that the marijuana flower you buy in a dispensary will look slightly different. Growers will trim, dry, and cure cannabis flower before sending it to a dispensary. This makes cannabis flower look even more compact and “bud-like,” and can also make it look drier and a bit darker.
Marijuana Pre-Rolls and Joints
One way to smoke marijuana flower is by rolling it up in paper and smoking it much like you would a cigarette. People can make their own marijuana cigarettes, also called joints, at home using rolling papers and ground cannabis flower. You can also buy pre-rolled joints, or pre-rolls, at a dispensary. The way homemade joints and pre-rolls look can vary depending on the paper used and how evenly the ground cannabis is distributed in the paper. Generally, however, this type of marijuana product looks like a slightly uneven, homemade cigarette.
Marijuana vapes are devices that can be used to vaporize cannabis flower or marijuana oil. Vaping devices can look very different depending on the specific model. Some vapes are large tabletop machines, while others are small pen-like devices that can fit in your pocket.
Marijuana Tinctures and Oils
Marijuana tinctures and oils are liquid marijuana products that contain cannabinoid extracts. Tinctures hold their marijuana extract in an alcohol base, while oils hold extract in an oil base. While they’re slightly different products, marijuana tinctures and oils look very similar. Both are usually sold in small bottles that feature dropper lids.
As you may guess from their name, marijuana concentrates are a type of highly concentrated marijuana product. Marijuana concentrates tend to have potent mild altering effects due to their high THC content, so they’re more commonly used by experienced cannabis users, rather than beginner or casual users.
There’s more than one type of marijuana concentrate and each has a unique appearance. Some common examples of marijuana concentrates include shatter, wax, sauce, and CO2 oil. Shatter is a brittle, glass-like, transparent extract with an amber color. Wax is a softer extract with a waxy, butter-like texture and a yellowy-brown color. Sauce is a liquidy extract with a sticky, saucy consistency and a golden brown color. CO2 oil is a pure liquid extract with a smooth, thick consistency and an amber color.
Marijuana edibles are foods or drinks that have been infused with marijuana. Almost anything can be made into a marijuana edible, so edibles can look extremely different from one another. For example, there are cannabis-infused brownies, gummies, chocolates, cookies, cake bites, capsules, teas, lemonades, and so on.
Note that infusing an edible product with cannabis doesn’t make it look different to the naked eye. A cannabis-infused brownie may taste or smell a bit like marijuana, but it probably won’t look different from your average brownie.
Final Thoughts on What Cannabis Looks Like
This wraps up our guide to what cannabis plants and cannabis products look like. As always, if you have any additional questions about marijuana plants, the different forms of marijuana, or marijuana use in general, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re always happy to share our cannabis knowledge with our customers. You can get in touch with us through our website here or by calling your closest Essence Dispensary location.