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Cannabis Sativa

A complex and mysterious plant shown to benefit health

The lifecycle of Cannabis Sativa

Regular Seeds:

Regular cannabis seeds result from the natural pollination of a female plant by a male plant. This traditional approach yields a mix of male and female plants, offering a diverse genetic pool.

Feminized Seeds: 

Feminized cannabis seeds are selectively bred to eliminate male chromosomes, ensuring that the resulting plants are almost exclusively female. This eliminates the need for growers to identify and remove male plants.

Autoflowering Seeds:

Autoflowering cannabis seeds are unique in their ability to transition from the vegetative stage to the flowering stage based on age rather than changes in light cycles. This characteristic provides a quicker cultivation cycle and may be advantageous in certain growing conditions.

Seeds as Collectibles:

Some cannabis enthusiasts collect seeds as a hobby. They appreciate the diversity and uniqueness of different strains and may trade or share seeds with other collectors.


Germination and Seedlings:

Germination is the process by which a cannabis seed transforms into a seedling. It begins when a seed absorbs water, causing it to swell and eventually crack open.


Optimal Conditions: Cannabis seeds require warmth, moisture, and darkness to germinate successfully. Ideal temperatures range from 70 to 85°F (21 to 29°C).


Taproot Emergence: As the seed cracks open, a taproot emerges, seeking downward growth. The first set of leaves, called cotyledons, appear shortly after.

Following the cotyledons, the first set of true leaves appears. These leaves have the distinct shape of cannabis leaves.


The seedling stage typically lasts for 2 to 3 weeks, during which the plant establishes its initial structure. Seedlings need ample light, preferably in the blue spectrum, to support photosynthesis. 18-24 hours of light per day is common during this stage.

Vegetative Stage:

During the vegetative stage of cannabis growth, the primary emphasis is on developing a strong and healthy structure through the growth of leaves, branches, and stems. This stage is characterized by vigorous growth and occurs after the seedling stage, following successful germination.


Energy is directed towards building a robust plant structure, including leaf expansion, stem strength, and root system development.


Increased exposure to light is essential during this stage, typically ranging from 18 to 24 hours per day.

Growers may use methods like topping and pruning to shape the plant's structure. Training enhances light penetration, controls height, and promotes an even canopy.


Nutrient requirements rise during this stage to support rapid growth. The vegetative stage continues until the grower induces flowering by decreasing amount of light the plant is exposed to.

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Pre-Flowering Stage:

The plant begins to show its gender during this stage. Male plants produce pollen sacs, while females develop small, translucent hairs.


Growers typically remove male plants to prevent fertilization of female plants, which could result in lower potency.

Flowering Stage:

This is the stage where cannabis plants produce buds.

The length of the flowering stage varies depending on the strain, usually lasting 7-14 weeks.


Harvest time is determined by examining the trichomes on the buds for the desired level of THC.


Flowering Stage:

The flowering stage marks the transition from vegetative growth to the production of flowers or buds.


During flowering, cannabinoids such as THC and CBG begin to accumulate within the resinous trichomes on the buds.

Aromatic compounds known as terpenes are synthesized in abundance during the flowering stage, contributing to the plant's distinct aroma and flavor.

Cannabinoid Transformations:

CBG is a precursor cannabinoid that the plant uses during development.  CBG is used and converted by the plant into THC during the final maturation phases.


Harvest time is determined by examining the trichomes on the buds for the desired level of THC.

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Mature Flower:

The mature cannabis flower, or buds as they're known,  is where the cannabinoid compounds are located.  During the final phase, the plant will convert CBG into THC and will grow these hair like crystalline structures called trichomes. 


As shown in the SEM part of the image to the left, They are incredibly small and yet possess a complex geometry for such tiny, fragile structures. The bulb is generally between 50-100 microns. It's important to handle dried cannabis flower with care as the trichomes may be lost, and with them some of the cannabinoids.


Trichomes grow during final maturation of the plant. Trichomes (from the Greek trichoma, which means tiny hairs) are where the plant stores the vast majority of the cannabinoids that it produces.  It's pretty much where 'all the magic' happens.

Trichomes may be the most fascinating part of the maturing plant. You can follow this link to see a researcher video describing in some scientific detail his work in trichomes.



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