When male-sexed cannabis plants finish maturing, the flowering process occurs all across the plant. Tiny racemes (short flower stalks) are formed at the base of the flower itself. When the flowers open, the plant releases a load of airborne pollen which sticks to and is absorbed by the pistil of the female plant.
This is a basic explanation of how the fertilization and reproductive process in cannabis plants works. It can be difficult to distinguish between male and female cannabis plants at times, but the male usually has earlier sexual development.
Like the male cannabis plants, mature female cannabis plants will also produce racemes. In the case of the female plants, the racemes are a blend of tiny pistils and calices (calyx). In each of the calices, there is an ovule, which acts as the receptor for the pollen from the male plant.
When the grains of pollen stick to a pistil, the pistil stalk then pushes into the calyx, and the plant is fertilized. The calyx itself is also the site where cannabis seeds are grown after fertilization.
Each seed will have a mix of characteristics coming from both parent plants, as in other instances of sexual reproduction. The only time this wouldn’t be the case would be if the parent plants were identical, as in the case of certain pure clones or specific hybridizations.
Although rare as a natural occurrence in nature, many growers might be exposed to the existence of hermaphroditic plants, that is, plants which contain both male and female sex organs. These sorts of plants can fertilize themselves, which is both extremely interesting and potentially quite useful from a breeding perspective.
In general, a hermaphrodite cannabis plant falls on one of the three points along a sexual spectrum. If the plant is mainly comprised of male flowers or has a roughly equal number of male/female flowers, it is probably of little use to a grower. If the hermaphrodite has mainly female flowers, however, it should definitely be saved.
The pollen from these plants can be quite useful, and some growers collect the pollen because even though it is a male part of reproduction, the hermaphroditic pollen is genetically female, and will produce female flowers.
In the 70’s, Indica strains were brought to the USA and mixed with the already present Sativa plants, which set off a long chain of breeding and experimentation with cannabis cultivation and hybridization.
It’s important to note that despite the differences between all of these varieties of cannabis, they are essentially one species. They can still be bred together. The names Indica and Sativa refer to the areas where the plants are originally from.
The same sort of idea is found in other agriculture, or dog breeds, where there is a wide difference in appearances, but the species are still the same.