Plant Cultivation

How to Identify and Use Male Cannabis Plant

Male Cannabis Plant: Identification, Usage, & Benefits

All cannabis growers want to maximize the yield and quality of their marijuana crop, and that’s why you should read this post if you are one of them. Cannabis are unisexual plants that have two genders, male and female. While female cannabis plants are responsible for producing buds/flowers containing a high level of THC, which makes you high after consumption, the male cannabis plant creates pollen sacs. 

You’ll probably want to breed female cannabis only, but trust me, the male cannabis plant serves its role and purpose in the marijuana growth cycle as well. Before that, we’ll first take a closer look at signs of each gender, and the differences between male cannabis plants and female ones, so you can know how to identify the male cannabis plants. 

Table of Contents

When Can You Tell If A Cannabis Plant Is Male

First things first, there’s no way to tell the gender when the cannabis is still in the seed form. You can only notice solid signs when they are grown sexually mature, which can happen in the pre-flowering stage, generally 6-8 weeks after germinating seeds, to say the least. Anything before that would be assumptions only. 


However, if you are cloning cannabis from a female mother plant, then you’ll get a female cannabis plant with a 100% chance. The same principle applies to feminized seeds too. 

How to Identify Male vs Female Cannabis Plants

So, after entering the pre-flowering stage, what do male and female cannabis plants look like? Thanks to the marijuana anatomy, we can have a clear image of both genders from multiple aspects. 

male-vs-female cannabis plants

Image from female (left) vs male (right) cannabis seed

What Does Male Cannabis Plant Look Like

We can start the gender detection by assessing the overall growth. Male cannabis plants tend to have a more slender and upright growth pattern compared to their female counterparts. They also have thicker stalks and may appear less bushy. However, the key sign that indicates male cannabis plants is the burst of pollen sacs during the pre-flowering stage, about 4 weeks into flowering

Male Cannabis Preflowers and Pollen Sac Formation

At approximately four weeks into flowering, male cannabis plants develop tiny, round pollen sacs at the nodes of the plant. These sacs often appear in the leaf axils, where the leaf meets the stem, or along the underside of branches. 

As the flowering stage progresses, these pollen sacs, which are instrumental in pollinating nearby female cannabis plants for seed formation, begin to cluster together, resembling bunches of bananas. This clustering is a clear indicator of the plant's male gender.

female plant vs male plant

Image source:

What Does Female Cannabis Plant Look Like

Unlike male marijuana plants, female cannabis plants exhibit a more compact and bushy growth pattern by developing numerous leaves and thinner branches, forming a lush canopy. You should smell stronger aromas on them. 

To be exquisite, the key indicator of female cannabis plants lies in the hair-like structures known as stigmas, more often called pistils by the majority. You can find pistils protruding from the nodes where the branches meet the main stem when the female plants reach the pre-flowering stage, often 4-6 weeks into flowering

Pistils are typically small and slender, resembling fine hairs or threads. They can vary in color, starting as white or cream-colored and gradually changing as the flower matures. We have a delicate article explaining how to identify a female seed, if you are interested. 

milky white trichome

milky white trichome on female cannabis plants

What to Do with Male Cannabis Plants

Once you’ve differentiated the male marijuana plants from the crowd, what to do with them? Reading so far, you should know that male cannabis plants are typically less desired than female plants, as they do not contribute to the production of cannabinoids. However, male plants play a leading role in the breeding process to create new strains.

The primary purpose of male plants is to pollinate female plants to breed seeds. Breeders use specific male plants with desirable traits, such as unique flavors, resistance to pests or diseases, and aromas, to create new and improved strains by incorporating the two genders. For individual growers, if you're interested in creating your own cannabis seeds, allowing a male plant to pollinate female plants can result in immediate seed production. 

In addition to breeding, male cannabis plants can be used on the following occasions: 

Hemp Fiber: While not as common, some male cannabis plants, especially those of hemp varieties, can be used for fiber production. That’s because male marijuana plants tend to have a slightly higher fiber percentage than female ones. The fibers from the stalks of male plants can be used in textiles, paper, and other industrial applications.

Composting/Mulching: Once male plants have served their purpose in breeding or seed production, they can be composted or used as mulch. Cannabis plants are rich in organic matter and nutrients, and composting them can contribute to creating nutrient-rich soil for future plant growth.


Edibles: Male plants can undergo decarboxylation, followed by the creation of cannabutter, allowing for the infusion of moderate levels of cannabinoids into various foods and beverages. Another way to consume male cannabis plants is to make them juice, but make sure you steer clear of thicker stalks or larger leaves to prevent a bitter taste.

Traditional Medicine: In certain traditional medicine practices, parts of the male cannabis plant, such as the leaves or roots, may be used for various purposes. However, it's essential to note that the medicinal properties of male plants are not as well-documented as those of female plants.

Educational Purposes: Some growers keep male plants for educational purposes. Studying the growth patterns, characteristics, and differences between male and female plants can be valuable for those learning about cannabis cultivation.

What’s Good about Male Cannabis Plants

Despite the multiple usages mentioned above, male cannabis plants themselves share definite benefits in terms of various aspects. To name the most remarkable ones, gene pool diversity, 

Genetic Diversity

Male cannabis plants play a crucial role in breeding programs by contributing to genetic diversity, an essential aspect. Cannabis, being dioecious with distinct male and female characteristics, facilitates the preservation of specific traits in the gene pool. By cultivating healthy male plants, growers ensure the continuity of particular characteristics, including growth patterns and terpene profiles. 

This diverse gene pool not only sustains genetic variety but also allows for the selection of traits like resistance to pathogens, growth rate, overall plant health, and various cannabinoid and terpene profiles. The result is a spectrum of strains with distinctive effects and aromas.

Pest Control

Outdoor breeders may utilize male cannabis plants not only for seed production but also for the terpenes they produce, such as pinene, limonene, and borneol. These terpenes act as natural insect repellents for other crops. 

Potency and Cannabinoids

While cannabinoid concentration is typically higher in female plants, male cannabis plants also contain a share of CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids and terpenes. Male leaves, in particular, tend to have higher cannabinoid content than their flowers. 

Breeders can then focus on their resin and cannabinoid-terpenoid content to develop strains that are disease-resistant, high-yielding, and potent. What’s more, male marijuana plants play a key role in breeding strains with specific cannabinoid concentrations, such as breeding a high CBD male with a high CBD female.

Wide Usages

Once you check the previous section, you’ll realize male cannabis is not crap you toss away without thinking. Instead, it shares diverse usages that are helpful and beneficial to your gardening journey. Embrace the male cannabis plants and make them valuable! 

What Causes Male Cannabis Plants

There’s actually no cause that triggers the plants to grow or change into male cannabis. It’s just what it is. Since cannabis is a dioecious plant species, it has separate male and female plants. During the germination process, when the seed sprouts, it contains genetic information that will determine its sex.

However, cannabis plants can also exhibit hermaphroditic tendencies, where they develop both male and female reproductive organs. If you want to know more about this type of cannabis plant, refer to this post: How to Turn A Hermie Back into A Female

FAQs about Male Cannabis Plant

  • Do male cannabis plants get pistils?

No, male cannabis plants do not produce pistils. Pistils are the female reproductive organs responsible for capturing pollen. In contrast, male plants develop staminate flowers that produce pollen sacs containing pollen.

  • Can you smoke hermaphrodite plants?

Smoking hermie cannabis won’t kill you, but it won’t give you the best experience, either. That’s because hermaphroditic plants may produce seeds and have a lower cannabinoid content, therefore, affecting overall quality of the smoking experience. For optimal potency and quality, go for flowers from female plants. 

  • Do you get bud from a male plant?

No, male cannabis plants do not produce the resinous buds that are sought after for smoking or extraction. Instead, their primary purpose is to produce pollen for fertilizing female flowers, as discussed above. 


About Ciki

Ciki has been navigating the digital world of SEO for over 3 years, applying her expertise originally in the software sector before turning her attention to indoor gardening. Merging her tech-savvy background with a passion for nature, Ciki offers a unique perspective on gardening, blending modern techniques with time-honored traditions.

One thought on “How to Identify and Use Male Cannabis Plant

  1. Njabulo Dlamini says:

    I am into cannabis breeding, but I’m a beginner so would like to get more information on how to breed seeds, breeding the best breeds.

    I’d like like to have a platform where I can have audio.

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