The cannabis plant is comprised of several structures, many of which we can find on any ordinary flowering species. Cannabis grows on long skinny stems with its large, iconic fan leaves extending out from areas called nodes. Cannabis really starts to stand out in her flowers where unique and intricate formations occur.
Also known as the terminal bud, cola refers to the plant’s “bud site” where tight female flowers bloom. The main cola (sometimes called the apical bud) forms at the very top of the plant, while smaller colas occur along the budding sites below. The number and size of cannabis colas can be increased through a variety of growing techniques like topping, low stress training (LST), and screen of green (ScrOG).
To the unknowing eye, cannabis buds just look like a knobby tangle of leaves, but the calyx is what actually comprises the female flower. Look closely underneath those tiny leaves (called “sugar leaves”) and you’ll find those tear-shaped nodules. These are the calyxes, and they come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors. Calyxes typically contain high concentrations of trichomes, or glands that secrete THC and other cannabinoids.
Out from the calyxes peek tiny red-orange hairs; these vibrant strands are called pistils, and they serve to collect pollen from males. Pistils begin with a white coloration and progressively darken to yellow, orange, red, and brown over the course of the plant’s maturation. They play an important role in reproduction, but pistils bring very little to the flower’s potency and taste.
Despite their minute size, it’s hard to miss the blanket of crystal resin on a cannabis bud. This resin (or “kief” when dry) is secreted through translucent, mushroom-shaped glands on the leaves, stems, and calyxes. Trichomes were originally developed to protect the plant against predators and the elements. These clear bulbous globes ooze aromatic oils called terpenes as well as therapeutic cannabinoids like THC and CBD. The basis of hash production depends on these trichomes and their potent sugar-like resin.