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hermaphrodite pot plant

Hermaphroditism in Cannabis plants. So, what now?

Among cannabis plants we can find dioecious and monoecious specimens, that is, individuals that only show a defined sex and others that contain flowers of both sexes in the same plant. Originally they were all monoecious, as is the case with almost all varieties of industrial hemp as well as the vast majority of vegetables on the planet.

In the past this was not a problem, because cannabis was used for making fibres and the seeds were eaten, so every plant was valid. Then they started smoking the flowers after removing the seeds, as well as producing hashish centuries later, and they soon realized that female plants were much better for these purposes, or that they barely showed any male flowers.

It was the human hand that began to isolate the best females for its own use, and by selection and crossing the dioecious traits were fixed in some pure varieties. From the best stable Landraces came the first hybrids, and from them most of the polyhybrids we know nowadays. The vast majority of cannabis seeds nowadays are of well-defined sex, but there are still genetics that can show hermaphroditism and this is what we will see here. What is a hermaphrodite cannabis plant and what can we do with it?

📲 Meaning of Hermaphrodite

I guess we’ve all been there at one time or another, we have arrived to the crop and among all the plants we saw something strange. Something that you do not expect, a plant that has strange things in the buds and when you approach to see it well your predictions are confirmed, it is a hermaphrodite sex flower, but what is hermaphroditism?

The definition of hermaphrodite in marijuana plants means specimens containing both sexes in the same flower. This process is also called Monoceia. This can be a big problem if you want to smoke the buds, because male flowers normally pollinate female flowers and your buds will contain seeds. So, is hermaphroditism bad? It is for us, although we have to understand that sometimes it is a positive reaction that the plant shows on certain situations.

Picture showing the different sexes of cannabis plants*

⭐ Types and causes of Cannabis Hermaphroditism

  1. Genetic
  2. Environmental stress
  3. Culture Stress
  4. Overmaturity
  5. Chemical agents
  1. The most common cause of weed plants showing hermaphrodites is genetic. As we saw before, the ancestors of all the current varieties were hermaphrodites, but they have been working over the years to stabilize their sex. Many times plants contain hermaphrodite genes in a recessive way, that is, some specimens may not show it, but these same specimens may pass it on to the offspring. It is also the case of varieties that always show pure females when grown optimally, but can end up showing male flowers in stress situations.
  2. Environmental stress hermaphroditism is quite common too, but in this case it has to do with Darwin’s theory of evolution. It may seem like a negative thing, since it can ruin your crop, but it is actually a system of adaptation to the environment, since it happens when the female plant perceives that it can die due to environmental irregularities, so it produces male flowers to self-pollinate and procreate as soon as possible.
  3. Crop-induced stress can be caused naturally or by the grower himself/herself. Pure Afghani genetics have minimal water requirements, because they are used to dry and unfertile soil, and when you try to grow them in a rainy area they often show hermaphroditic signs. It also happens the other way around, of course, if you bring a Mexican to Afghanistan it’s normal for it to get stressed out too and it can end up hermaphroditing. This can be seen very well with some hybrids when they are over-fertilized, or when they suffer from water stress due to drought, excess irrigation or an inadequate PH in the nutrient solution.
  4. Hermaphroditism caused by over-ripening can be suffered by 90% of today’s commercial cannabis varieties. It is a kind of survival system of the plant, which when it perceives that its death is near and has not been fertilized, creates some male flowers to self-pollinate and try to continue with the lineage. There are many sexually stable females that endure many types of stress without showing any hermaphroditic signs, but in the case of over-ripening they end up producing hermaphrodite flowers.
  5. Cannabis has the ability to reverse or invert its sex thanks to certain chemicals. This is because there are some elements that have the capacity to inhibit the ethylene production of the female specimens, and therefore show male flowers capable of producing pollen. An example of this type of hermaphroditism is STS which is used to produce feminized seeds. Plants reversed with silver thiosulfate, colloidal silver or other chemicals, we call them hermaphrodites, although they are not really like that, because when they start to generate male flowers they stop producing female flowers, so maybe we could call them sequential hermaphrodites or just intersex plants.

Image of an intersex cannabis plant, where you can see a female flower next to a male one*

Difference between hermaphrodite and intersex

We usually call all plants containing both sexes hermaphrodite and it’s actually like this. But we must differentiate between those that produce both female and male flowers separated in different areas, which would be intersex ones, from those that form male and female flowers in the same bud.

➕ How to take advantage of a hermaphrodite plant?

The best thing you can do when you detect a hermaphrodite plant in your crop is to carefully remove it so as not to spread the pollen in case it has opened the flowers. But that doesn’t mean that you have to cut it down and throw it away, because sometimes you can get some use out of the plant.

Some specimens can take out 1 or 2 male flowers and nothing else, it happens sometimes with pre-flowers, in the fourth or fifth knot usually, that can be taken out and the plant will continue to flower as a female many times. It is convenient to keep an eye on these specimens if they are mixed with other females, in case at some point they take out some little banana (male flowers that come out in some hermaphrodite buds).

There are also some hermaphrodite plants that can take out a few small bananas in a bud, visible and that can be removed with tweezers. In these cases it is also better to separate them carefully and, depending on the development of the buds, choose whether to bring forward the harvest or keep them under supervision until they finish their cycle. Once you’ve removed the bananas, you can use that weed like any other.

If it is a plant that shows signs of continuous hermaphroditism during the first weeks of flowering, it is best to cut it directly if there is a danger of pollination of other females. If this happens to you, you should know that you can use the plant to make rubbing alcohol, for example. However, if you have to cut it with a more advanced flowering stage, I suggest you try to make BHO, because if the buds already have resin I feel that this is a better way to take advantage of a hermaphrodite.

And if they are seeds from a hermaphrodite plant, can I use them?

One of the factors that influence hermaphroditism is the genetic as we saw before, it is one more inherited characteristic that runs from generation to generation. Therefore, seeds that come out of hermaphrodite marijuana plants have a good chance of also being hermaphrodite.

Sometimes we find some seeds among the whole harvest of a plant, which usually come from self-pollination, they are the so-called S1. This happens when a little banana comes out and fertilizes a small area of a bud, so only a few seeds come out, sometimes only one. These seeds are feminized and very similar to the plant from which they come out, they always come out female, but they are always prone to produce some male flower between their buds as well.

🚀 How to avoid that a plant becomes hermaphrodite?

This is not always possible, because there are some varieties that have it very marked, intrinsic. But there are many others that only have a tendency to hermaphroditism, or a greater ability to produce flowers of the opposite sex. This tendency has a lot to do with the ability of genetics to withstand stress, those that are sexually pure, very few, endure much more stress without showing changes in their sex. If you want to stop them from showing it, consider the following factors:

  • Don’t go crazy with nutrients
  • Check the pH and regularly calibrate your meter
  • Daytime temperature around 75º F. (24º C.) and at night around 64.5º F. (18º C.)
  • Keep the crop clean, pests also stress
  • Strict photoperiod and no illumination of the plants during the night period
  • Don’t delay the harvest, you know that over-ripe ends in hermaphroditism
  • Be careful with phytosanitary products, some are very strong and can stress the plant
  • Don’t put too many plants in too little space, root stress is also bad

✅ Conclusion

You’ve seen that hermaphroditism in cannabis is not a bad thing in itself, even if it bothers us. At least you know how to handle it and how you can take advantage of these plants in case this happens. I hope you liked this post, and if so, I’d like you to share it.

Do you know what hermaphroditism is? How to differentiate it from intersex? In this post we disclose those and other doubts…

Hermaphrodite cannabis plants and their uses

Hermaphrodite weed plants are often the unspoken plants of the cannabis world. Much like with other species, a hermaphrodite weed plant will develop the characteristics of both male and female plants and produce flowers that contain both thick flower buds and seeds. Unfortunately, these cannabis plants are mostly unwanted by the growing community. They can completely ruin crops meant for recreational use and are full of annoying seeds which makes it a low-quality product.

Things that can influence your chances of getting a hermaphrodite plant

There are only a couple different ways that a hermaphrodite weed plant will form. The first is due to genetics and the second is based on the environment. If a plant is put under conditions lacking essential components like water and light, then the stress a plant is experiencing can cause this reaction. It is the plant’s natural ability to shut down and shorten its growth cycle if it isn’t getting what it needs to flourish. Some of the biggest causes of stress for a marijuana plant are interruptions in light during the flowering stage, heat reaching over 27 C on average, harvesting a plant past its prime, damage to the plant structure, lack of water, too much fertilizer, predatory bugs or diseases, too much cold, and the use of pesticides or fungicides.

How to tell male from female marijuana plants

Spotting a hermaphrodite weed plant is difficult until you learn to tell male from female marijuana plants.

Male marijuana plants

Male cannabis plants will produce balls underneath their leaves. They are pollen sacs that once developed can fertilize an entire field of female plans with just one ball. The male cannabis plant tends to grow more quickly and will be spindly. They will not produce crystals or hairs at all until they are in their final growing stages. A male marijuana plant will produce mainly seed and only a small fraction of flower.

Female marijuana plant

The female cannabis plant will grow slower than her counterpart. Females will be shorter a bushier and almost immediately begin producing orange and white hairs and pistils. THC crystal can sometimes be spotted even at a young stage coating some of the smaller fan leaves. A female marijuana plant will produce high-quality bud that is much more potent than that of a male marijuana plant.

Early signs of a hermaphrodite plant

If you are looking for early signs of a hermaphrodite plant, you will want to watch the smallest v-shaped branch that extends from the stalk. This is where you will see the very first bud or pollen sacs develop. Early signs of a hermaphrodite plant will be the development of both male and female flower anatomy.

What does a hermaphrodite plant look like?

A hermaphrodite plant will resemble a female cannabis plant once it nears the end of its life cycle. Marijuana flower produced by a hermaphrodite plant will be fraught with seeds which can often be noticed long before harvest as many will develop on the outside of the flower bud. When younger a hermaphrodite cannabis plant will most likely sport pollen sacs long before any flower production occurs. The plant itself will also be smaller than it’s female and male counterparts as the process of turning into a hermaphrodite will stunt the overall growth of a marijuana plant.

Can you smoke hermaphrodite weed?

While the answer is yes, you can most definitely smoke flowers produced by a hermaphrodite cannabis plant. You may not want to. A hermaphrodite plant will not be nearly as potent as a 100% female cannabis plant, and it will be full of seeds which will affect smokability and taste.

What can a hermaphrodite weed plant be used for?

Smoke It

As mentioned before you can smoke the flowers produced by a hermaphrodite plant, it’s the experience itself that ends up lacking. In the best attempt to save a plant that’s transformed into a hermaphrodite you can use a pair of tweezers or your fingers to remove any pollen sacs the moment you see them. Some growers will even go so far as to completely remove any flowers that show male characteristics.

Making concentrates

Hermaphrodite weed plants can be used to make any THC or CBD concentrates like hash il, hash, shatter, powder, etc. While THC content in a hermaphrodite plant is often low, once harvested and condensed it can end up a reasonably effective concentrate.

Making feminized seeds

A hermaphrodite plant is often use din the creation of feminized seeds. A hermaphrodite plant will be introduced to a crop of female cannabis plants while using hormones and other chemicals. The results will be mostly female or feminized seeds that will have a higher rate of creating pure females.

Much like with other species, a hermaphrodite weed plant will develop the characteristics of both male and female plants.