Can hermaphroditic cannabis flowers fertilize female plants? According to a team of Canadian researchers, the answer is yes.
Cannabis plants are dioecious, which means that male and female flowers are typically found on different plants. Commercial grow operations focus on female plants because unfertilized female flowers have the richest supply of cannabinoids and terpenes. To ensure there are no males, growers use clippings from a mother plant or kill the male flowers if the plant’s being grown from seed.
However, hermaphroditic plants are impossible to eradicate or predict. These are plants with flowers possessing male and female sex organs. They can arise spontaneously. When this happens, it leads to an increase in seed production and a decrease in usable oil produced. Producing pollen and seeds reduces the resources the plant can devote toward synthesizing terpenes and cannabinoids.
The Canadian research team, whose study was published in Frontiers in Plant Science (1), looked at hermaphroditism in indoor cannabis cultivars. Their research grow room was specifically designed to nurture female plant growth. Anthers, or male reproductive organs, were still found in approximately 5% – 10% of the plants. Their work shows that hermaphroditic flowers can successfully fertilize female flowers.
“In the present study,” the researchers write, “pollen germination and germ tube growth were observed in samples of hermaphrodite flowers and pollen transfer from male flowers to stigmas of female flowers showed germination…”
They also noted that all of the hermaphrodite plants’ seeds produced female flowers, a surprising fact.
When commercial growers use genetic female clones and still find fertilized flowers, the cause is likely due to hermaphroditic plants.
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- Punja, Z. K., & Holmes, J. E. (2020). Hermaphroditism in Marijuana (Cannabis sativa L.) Inflorescences – Impact on Floral Morphology, Seed Formation, Progeny Sex Ratios, and Genetic Variation. Frontiers in Plant Science, 11.