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What Does A Hemp Plant Look Like?

What does a hemp plant look like

The cannabis industry is always expanding and growing. Hemp plant has attracted increasing attention after the Farm Bill of 2018 was enacted. Unlike cannabis (known for its Tetrahydrocannabinol concentration) hemp plant is not psychoactive and has very little THC. Many people are unclear how to identify hemp plants because of the mix-up between the two. So, what exactly is hemp plant? Here is everything you should know about hemp, including its origins, properties, and how it relates to plants like cannabis.

The origins of hemp

Researchers approve that hemp originated in Asia, with archaeological digs in Japan, for instance, indicating that the plants were gathered for at least 12,000 years. While ancient hemp remains have been found in Thailand, India, and Malaysia, discoveries in what is now China demonstrate that people there were using hemp fibers to make textiles as early as 4,000 BC. One of the earliest recorded references to hemp for therapeutical use comes from ancient China and is credited to the legendary emperor Shennong and his book “Ben Cao Jing.” This book discusses hemp’s therapeutic and spiritual properties and is thought to have been compiled from oral traditions between 200 BC and 220 AD.

What is hemp?

Hemp growing began in Chile in the 1500s and spread to North America a century later. Since it is among the plants that resemble weed, it prompted a heated legalization discussion across many states as soon as it appeared. This plant grows well in temperate regions and may reach a height of 16 feet. It requires well-draining sandy loam soil and ample rainfall to attain its full capacity. Hemp plants grown for fiber are generally taller and have less branching than those grown for oilseed. The former category is used shortly after maturation.

Hemp plants growing outdoors

Hemp is legally defined as a cannabis plant with a THC concentration of 0.3% or below. This extremely low concentration is less likely to make you high.

How do you identify a hemp plant?

Cannabis and hemp plants have striking similarities, particularly in areas where weed grows natively. You might have surprising cultivation outcomes if you need help understanding the intricacies of the two closely related plants. Although the look of cannabis may be obvious to some, distinguishing it from hemp requires a trained eye. When learning how to recognize a hemp plant, the physical characteristics listed below are critical:


The leaves of a hemp plant are its most distinguishing trait, easily distinguishing it from other plants. Typically, these blades are long and thin, with serrated edges. The hemp plant has compound blades with 5-7 leaflets or fingers per leaf. The microscopic components come together at the rachis, which connects the leaves to the branches. A hemp plant can have as many as nine fingers per blade or as few as three. Lower leaves often contain fewer leaflets than upper leaves. Despite this unique trait, this plant has an odd number of fingers throughout its life. Each leaf on a hemp plant is around 5-10 inches long, depending on the size of the plant. The blades often develop in opposite-facing pairs across the stalk-protruding branches. Hemp leaves can range in color from purple to green, depending on the genetic makeup of the plant.


Checking hemp buds’ appearance, smell, and texture is the simplest identification method. These blooms are often tiny and greenish-yellow in color. They grow in clusters on the plant’s apex. The buds of this plant are often resin-dense, with a sticky feel and icy trichomes. The scent of the nugs is determined by the plant’s strain and cultivation circumstances. Hemp flowers typically have the greatest cannabinoid content of any plant element. These chemical compounds combine with naturally existing terpenes and flavonoids to increase the therapeutic effectiveness of the plant.


In optimum growth circumstances, hemp plants may grow up to 16 feet tall with fiber-rich woody stalks. Except at the base and tip, these cane-like stalks are thin and hollow. A single trunk can have a diameter of up to one inch in length. The towering stalks support branches that sprout from various crossings. To stay close to the parent plant, these limbs normally develop vertically rather than horizontally. Stalks, like other aerial parts of the hemp plant, have a high concentration of CBD. Aside from their potential medical use, these stems are also quite versatile. Chemical treatment or soaking easily removes their long, malleable fibers from the external outer covering.

Hemp vs. Cannabis

Since hemp and cannabis are the same species, these two plants are easily confused. The morphology and anatomy of a hemp plant and a cannabis plant distinguish them. While certain hemp terpenes are similar to cannabis terpenes, the two plants have separate cannabinoid profiles.

Cannabis plants with fat and resinous buds
Cannabis plants with fat and resinous buds

THC levels in hemp plants are generally less than 0.3%, but THC levels in cannabis range between 5 and 30%. As a result, hemp plant is appropriate for industrial applications, while cannabis is good for recreational and medicinal uses.


Industrial hemp production has been legal in the USA since 2018; however, the 2018 Farm Bill requires each state to establish laws and implement programs for its lawful production and sale. So, while cultivating industrial hemp is lawful throughout the United States, state laws differ, and not all have established mechanisms to register and regulate hemp farming. Growers must register with their state’s Industrial Hemp growing program to adhere to the 2018 Federal Farm Bill and the final regulation on how it should be farmed released by the United States Department of Agriculture (January 2021).

Conversely, weed with more than 0.3% THC concentration is prohibited in the USA under federal law. Medical cannabis legalization has advanced from state to state, with 39 states allowing some medical cannabis. Although weed is legal for recreational use in 23 states, transferring them over state boundaries is still unlawful. Furthermore, all types of cannabis are illegal in states like Idaho, Nebraska, and Kansas.


Because of how the plants develop, and the substances they contain in varying concentrations, cannabis and hemp have distinct purposes. With less than 0.3% THC and possibly greater concentrations of CBD (cannabidiol), hemp can make ropes and textiles, biofuels (such as biodiesel), and nutritional or wellness supplements, some of which are manufactured from CBD and others from hemp oil. Cannabis’ primary applications are psychotropic, as it contains more than 0.3% THC and plants with less fiber than hemp types. Cannabis may be used recreationally or medicinally, and it can be processed into THC and CBD oils, tinctures, concentrates, and even smoked as a dried flower.

Keep your experience open now that you understand how to recognize a hemp plant. This understanding is critical for selecting the best hemp-related therapeutic supplements. Understanding hemp growing characteristics allows you to determine whether to select hemp-derived CBD or low-THC cannabis strains with more accuracy. While the core CBD quality is comparable, subtleties like scent and flavor may make a substantial difference in your intake. Premium Cultivars is the place for complimentary CBD-rich cannabis strains to improve your hemp experience. Browse our extensive collection of quality cannabis seeds to pick the variety that’s right for you.


How do you tell the difference male and female hemp plants?

Hemp male plants often develop quicker than female ones. They are thinner and higher, with compact clusters of blooms at the herb’s helm. Before flowering, male hemp plants generate raised green sacs on the internodes. When the bud opens, five stamens are visible. Once the pollen is released, the nuggets wither. Female plants produce two pistils, which protrude from the calyxes on the nodes. They’re generally bushier and branch out more than males, and they have pre-flowers with small, brilliant hairy stigmas. Female hemp plants are significantly easier to identify since their buds have a unique covering of sticky trichomes. Male blooms resemble small green banana clusters.

What is the distinction between hemp and CBD plants?

Since hemp is primarily grown for CBD extraction, the terms hemp and CBD are frequently used interchangeably. Because hemp plants have nearly little THC, breeders prefer them to CBD-rich cannabis plants. Hemp is typically used for purposes other than CBD production. CBD-rich cannabis plants are mostly used for therapeutic purposes.

What is the difference between pollution in male and female hemp plants?

Farmers want to segregate males and females before pollination. As a result, they need to find the males before their pollen sacs grow and rupture. The best way to identify male and female hemp plants is to look at the growths at the nodes. The nodes are the points at which the plant’s leaves and branches divide. Male plants have small pollen sacs at the nodes, while the female ones have a stigma. Hermaphrodite cannabis plants generate both pollen sacs and stigma in rare instances. Hermaphrodites can still pollinate female plants. Hemp producers will eliminate male and hermaphrodite plants from the environment to ensure their females produce attractive seedless blossoms. The pollen sacs of male hemp plants will explode when they are ready to pollinate. Then, the stigma of female hemp will then collect the pollen.

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Janice Bernstein

Janice has been on the cannabis scene for many years now, though she tends to keep to herself and might fly under the radar for many, even those well-versed in cannabis growing. Her writings on different methods of watering cannabis helped bring the use of reverse osmosis water to the forefront of cannabis gardening. About this Author

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