While hermaphroditism is a naturally occurring anomaly and it poses no real threat from an eco-standpoint, it is an important factor to be aware of when it comes to cultivating cannabis. In this article, we will discuss what a hermaphrodite plant is, how to identify it, and the causes of this mysterious botanical anomaly.
The tell-tale sign of a hermaphrodite plant is the presence of both female and male reproductive organs on a single plant. While females have calyxes and pistils, and males have pollen sacs, hermaphrodites have both.
Calyxes are tear-shaped appendages on the female plant that produce thin white hairs called Pistils. These hairs will eventually erupt from the flowers and turn shades of amber, red, and brown as the plants mature. Pollen sacs are little orbital structures that can be found on the male plants. These small sacs contain pollen, and their sole purpose is to pollinate female plants in order to create offspring.
Hermaphrodites will exhibit both of these traits, and as such, will act as both a female and a male. This aspect of cannabis is a survival technique that females use when regularly exposed to stressful environmental conditions. Due to the stresses, the female develops male organs in order to secure its probability of successful reproduction.
The primary influential factor in the development of hermaphroditism is stress. Within this facet of influence, are two types of stress: genetic and environmental.
When it comes to genetic causes, some strains are more susceptible to hermaphroditism than others. For example, Thai sativa is genetically more predisposed to hermaphroditism than other strains. Perhaps this genetic coding of sorts has to do with Thai sativa’s particular environment from which it originated. Which brings us to the second type of stress: environmental.
Environmental stresses are derived from the plant’s external environment. Such stressors include, but are not limited to:
Hermaphrodites can also manifest as the result of being harvested too late in the flowering phase. If a plant matures without being harvested for too long, it will potentially develop hermaphroditic traits in order to secure its chances of procreation.
Much like a male plant amidst a horde of lovely ladies, a hermaphrodite plant can compromise your entire harvest if left unidentified. This is, however, if you are growing with the intent of cultivating a product of exceptional quality with a high-yield. If you are growing marijuana with the purpose of genetic experimentation and cross-breeding, then these plants won’t pose as much of a threat to your harvest.
Since stress is the main ingredient in hermaphroditism, it is a good rule of thumb to nurture your plants and monitor them regularly to ensure a minimal-stress environment. Regardless of whether or not you are growing for yield or genetic experimentation, it is a useful skill that will make you a masterful cannabis cultivator in the end. Learning what it takes to make a thriving environment, as well as being able to adapt to the habits and conditions for optimal growth, are knowledgeable tools that will open you up to different realms within your potential as a grower.
If you are concerned with your ability to establish gender in your plants with regular seeds, then you can always invest in feminized seeds. Feminized seeds are engineered to produce only female plants that will ensure a highly-probable and bountiful harvest.
As mentioned in the section above, it is of high importance that you identify hermaphrodite plants as early possible. If your plants begin to exude characteristics of hermaphroditism in the early stages of flowering, it is best to eliminate them from the grow space before they can pollinate the rest of the plants and yield hermaphroditic offspring.
Now, if this occurs near the final stages of the flowering phase, it is best to harvest whatever buds you can before removing the culprit from the grow space. Another technique that can be used if the symptoms are noticed rapidly, is removing the pollen sacs with a pair of sterilized tweezers and then spraying the plants with water. Water sterilizes the pollen and may assist with your plant’s continuation as a female, however, it is important that even after you spray the plants, they will still require your utmost attention and care.
What it all comes down to in the end, is learning how to appropriately monitor and manage your crop while simultaneously cultivating and maintaining a flourishing environment for your plants. It’s as simple as being genuinely present and invested in the well-being of your cannabis.
If you find a hermaphrodite in your crop, you will now be better equipped with the knowledge to effectively handle it with confidence.