Characteristics and abnormalities that are found in cannabis strains

Published Jul 13, 2020 12:00 p.m. ET
iStock / Yarygin

Have you ever wondered why most cannabis plants look eerily similar despite varying origins, or how some cultivators end up with mysterious-looking growths that seem impossible to replicate? It’s the genetics that plays a huge role in how a plant ultimately ends up, but the environment can sometimes have a significant impact too, and the results of abnormal circumstances can sometimes be out of this world.

Some abnormalities feel exotic as the jaw-dropping aesthetics are enough to make any cannabis lover swoon, but others are just plain strange, and for the most part, they tend to occur within a select few species of the cannabis plant. Since they are rare, even the most experienced at growing marijuana might be shocked to learn about some of the crazy things that a cannabis plant can do, and here, we’re going to reveal the most incredible ones today.

1. Albinism

When you’re growing marijuana, typically, the plants will carry a nice hue of greens, purples, reds, and sometimes even blue, but it’s a once in a lifetime kind of experience when you see an albino cannabis plant in full bloom. These plants are generally white with pink pistils protruding from the buds, and this condition is sometimes mistaken for mold, but they are true albino flowers.

Albinism isn’t something that you’ll be able to replicate on demand, and it is one of the few genetic abnormalities that isn’t restricted to a select few cannabis strains. It happens when a cannabis plant matures with an abnormal chlorophyll pigmentation, and it’s something that can occur in nearly every species of plant and animal on the globe. Unfortunately, albino plants rarely make it to full maturity, but they are still pretty cool to look at.

2. Bud berries

“Bud berry” is a unique characteristic that is much more prominent among certain cannabis strains like Dr. Grinspoon, which has been around since the early ’60s. The strain is one of only a few heirlooms Sativas, and it grew in popularity mainly due to its unique look, and that was a major hit with anyone who enjoyed growing marijuana, as they appeared so different that at first glance you might not recognize them as cannabis plants.

This abnormality is rare, as most cannabis plant varieties utilize the entirety of their branches to produce as much flower as physically possible, but species that produce these bud berries look more like a delicate fruit tree, with perfectly placed balls of fruit that resemble grapes. Of course, there is no actual fruit. This is simply the way that the buds mature, and it’s a wonderous thing to watch firsthand, but it doesn’t produce a large yield, which is part of why it isn’t very common.

3. Jet black buds

We talked a bit above about the various colors of the cannabis plant, and they are all bright shades that come directly from nature, but every so often you’ll come across a strain that is an exception to this rule. Some cannabis strains boast a deeper, darker color that you might not expect to see, and it’s a black that stands out against the rest.


Now, it is important to note that this characteristic is only present in certain strains of cannabis, so if you get black buds that you weren’t expecting, then you’ll want to closely inspect your crop because you’re probably looking at mold. However, some types of weed like Black Dog, Black Diamond, and Black Rose produce large jet black nugs, and they taste and work just as well as the green ones.

4. Goo balls

Yes, it sounds like a laughter-inducing name, but it’s actually a characteristic that is present in some cannabis plant strains that are from hotter regions. What happens is the resins slowly drip away from the buds, while remaining attached, and this makes it look like there are hundreds of tiny little goo balls lining the entire outside of the cannabis flower.

Though we aren’t entirely certain as to why this happens, it is believed to be a trait that only a select few species produce through a process called sweating. The resins are filled with potent doses of cannabinoids which is why these are some of the stronger strains on the market today, but they are difficult to grow and therefore also challenging to find. If you want to see it for yourself, then you’ll want to pick up some Pinkman Goo seeds and try your best to maintain hot temperatures for the fullest effect.

5. Polyploidy

Most cannabis plants have only one set of chromosomes within their DNA, but on a rare occasion, you’ll find one with two sets, and that is called a polypoid. These plants produce some of the largest flowers that you’ll ever see, and they tend to have an incredible resilience when it comes to fending off harmful pests and predators which makes them excellent for anyone who is growing marijuana. In humans, polyploidy is often deadly, but a cannabis plant will thrive with it long term.

Unfortunately, this particular deformity is incredibly delicate to work with, which makes it nearly impossible to clone, and they can appear randomly in any strain, which is why they are so rare to see on the market today. Though they may not yet be a popular breed, polyploid cannabis plants can produce the most potent and largest yields with ease, and that is why they are currently being investigated by researchers who want to help to bring strains with this characteristic to the market en mass.

Cannabis plant anatomy


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