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Dry Leaf

Anatomy of the Plant

Growing Process & Stages

What's on the Shelf?

Medical Marijuana
Medical Cannabis

Anatomy of the Plant

Growing dry leaf is the basis for any commercial cannabis operation. All products a cultivator produces, whether they are concentrates, vape cartridges or RSO, begin with a strain of dry leaf.

Cannabis plants can be grown in an ever-increasing variety of strains. Based on their genetics, strains will be classified as either an indica, sativa, or hybrid. Different strains will all possess different physical characteristics, aromas, tastes, and effects. Despite these differences, they share the same basic anatomy in what makes up the plant, as shown in the diagram below. 

Cannabis Anatomy

Fan Leaves

Fan leaves are the large, iconic leaves of the cannabis plant. They are where photosynthesis occurs and are typically removed when trimming the plant. Fan leaves can indicate the type of cannabis plant through appearence.

Sugar Leaves

Sugar leaves are the small, resin-coated leaves that grow out of buds during the flowering stage. They are coated in trichomes and are typically trimmed off the buds after harvest. 


Cola is the part of the cannabis plant where the flowers come together along the main stem of the plant. Also referred to as a “bud site” or “bud terminal” it is a cluster of buds that grow tightly together that is later cured and harvested for processing. 


The flowers or “buds” of a cannabis plant are the final product that ends up on the shelf. They contain the cannabinoids and terpenes. Flowers only grow on female cannabis plants and must be dried before use.


Trichomes are resin glands appearing as crystal-like, rounded transparent globes that coat the flowers. Trichomes can exist in a few different shapes and sizes but are always rich in cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids that make up cannabis strains.  


The stigmas of the plant are hair-like structures that grow from the pistil of the plant and play a key role in reproduction. Although stigmas are colorful, changing from white, to yellow-orange and eventually red and brown, they bring little to the flower's potency or taste. 

Marijuana Cultivation

Growing Process & Stages

Every commercial grower in the state of PA dedicates a major portion of their facility's square footage to the production of dry leaf. With access to industrial equipment and years of growing expertise at their disposal cultivators can scale up the growing process and grow consistent high-quality product. The basic steps of this process are outlined below to give patients an idea of how growers are going from seed to sale (Germination to Final Product). This is only meant to serve as a brief overview of what is a long and nuanced process for growers to cultivate quality product.  

What's on the Shelf?

Sativa, Hybrid, Indica

When going to any dispensary cannabis will be categorized into three different types: sativa, indica, or hybrid. Sativa and Indica cannabis plants each possess broad differences in their physical characteristics and how the plant grows. Categorizing strains as indica, sativa, or hybrid has become the standard method of differentiating strains and is also typically used to broadly categorize the potential effects of a strain. 


While these categories can be useful in describing a strain's potential effects in a way that is more convenient for patients, it doesn't mean that all indica, sativa, or hybrid strains will have the same effects. This will depend on a variety of factors including the genetics of a specific strain and how it is grown. 

Medical Cannabis
Medical Marijuana

A Spectrum, not a Classification

As the cannabis industry continues to develop new genetics different strains are being put out at all the time. This means that crossbreeding and hybridization of cannabis is becoming the norm for strains that are being cultivated which makes strains more difficult to place into a category and easier to place onto a spectrum based on their characteristics.


So, it’s important to not consider flower grouped as indica or sativa as “either-or” choices, but rather to recognize each strain as existing on a wider spectrum between sativa, hybrid, and indica. Keep this in mind when viewing the general description of the common physical traits and effects of each category below. 





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