Plant anatomy: What is the cola on a cannabis plant?

Plant anatomy: What is the cola on a cannabis plant?

The cannabis plant is both unique and complex. Many people new to the world of cannabis are surprised by just how many parts make it up. You may be familiar with buds, leaves, and stems, but are you familiar with colas, stigmas, pistils, and other parts? Whether you’re new to the world of cannabis or have been familiar with the plant for some time, there’s always more to learn. Today we’re going to answer a question that comes up often when discussing plant anatomy: what is the cola on a cannabis plant?  And is it cannabis cola or kola?

A closer look at the cola 

Seeds, leaves, roots, stems, branches, nodes, flowers, stigmas, pistils, colas, and several other parts make up the cannabis plant. Today we’re simply focusing on the colas. 

So, what is a cola? It’s sometimes referred to as the “bud site,” since it is where clusters of buds grow tightly packed together. Typically, small colas may grow along with lower branches’ budding sites, but the plant will have a “main cola” formed at the top.

Colas are made of tightly-woven buds and the main cola is often the subject of gorgeous, detailed cannabis plant photography. That’s because they are often packed with resin and covered in a frosty blanket- perfect for showcasing the plant’s beauty. 

Depending on how the plant is grown, it can be loaded with colas throughout the body or it can tend to grow upward with most of the buds at the top. The latter is how a plant naturally tends to grow, but it is also possible to train the plant to grow more equal-sized bud sites throughout. 

While the cola may look like one giant bud, it’s actually made up of several tiny buds and sugar leaves that have grown around the stem. The buds and leaves are coated in trichomes, which are appendages on the surface of the bud that produce cannabinoids and terpenes. 

Do all cannabis plants have a cola?

Plant anatomy: What is the cola on a cannabis plant?

You can easily tell the difference between a mature male or female cannabis plant by looking at what is missing. Male cannabis plants are often tossed or avoided by growers as they don’t produce buds and are essentially useless for most cultivation purposes. It’s why feminized seeds are a popular choice for growers who don’t want to deal with the hassle of identifying and separating their male and female plants. 

Naturally, since male cannabis plants do not bud, they do not have colas. Whenever you see an image of a gorgeous, frosty nug-covered plant, you can be sure it’s a female weed plant flaunting her cola. 

More cannabis plant anatomy

Plant anatomy: What is the cola on a cannabis plant?

Knowing what and where the colas are is useful for better understanding the cannabis plant. But it doesn’t mean a lot if you can’t put it into context with the rest of the plant, so we’re going to briefly go through some other basic parts. 

Stigmas and pistils 

Pistils are home to the plant’s reproductive organs. They carry stigmas, which are hair-like strands boasting vibrant, varied colors. Stigmas collect pollen from male cannabis plants and shift colors as they mature. You can’t see the pistil on the plant – only the stigmas are visible. This is because the rest of the pistil is covered by a small leaf called a bract


We mentioned trichomes earlier when discussing the cola. Trichomes are tiny appendages that secrete resin, terpenes, cannabinoids, and other crucial compounds. To create hash or kief, you need plenty of trichomes loaded with resin. 

Sugar and fan leaves 

The cannabis plant has several types of leaves. Fan leaves are the large, overarching leaves that go along the length of the plant. They are important for photosynthesis but do not remain in the final product after harvest. 

And then there are sugar leaves, which are much smaller. These are found throughout the colas, as mentioned, and are usually trimmed off of the buds after harvesting. Most people come across some sugar leaves in their cannabis, though, as they are small and coated in trichomes. In fact, their frosty trichome coating is what gives them their name, since they look like they are dipped in sugar. 

The stem 

The main structure of the plant is the stem. It transports nutrients, information, fluids, and all vital components from the roots and distributes them across the plant. Additionally, it carries the often heavy weight of the colas that grow along or atop the structure. 

Not all cannabis plants look the same 

The basic anatomy of the cannabis plant is consistent across all types, but there are smaller, more detailed differences between different types. Sure, male and female plants are visibly different from one another, but there are other differences between different types of cannabis. 

For example, indica plants and indica-dominant hybrids typically are much bulkier than their sativa counterparts. They produce dense, heavy buds and sit at a much shorter height than sativa plants. Indica plants also tend to produce a broad, wide-shaped leaf, whereas sativa plants tend to produce slender leaves. The buds on a sativa plant tend to be much airier than indica buds, as well. 

Final thoughts 

Whether you’re a curious weed enthusiast or a home-cultivator looking for more detailed information about the plant, we hope we’ve answered some of the big questions about the plant’s anatomy. There are many other parts to the plant we didn’t cover yet in this piece, as this is just a look at the basics. 

If you want to skip the whole cultivation and go straight to the buds, stop by our Fitchburg dispensary for all the goodies you could ask for. 

Stop by The Healing Center 

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