by Nebula Haze
If you grow a lot of cannabis plants, you’re eventually going to run into unusual plants, mutations, and other unexpected growth patterns. Nature loves variation! Here are some of the most common marijuana plant mutations I’ve encountered over the years. If you see one of these strange occurrences, you’re not alone. Submit a picture if you have a cool mutation you want to share!
1.) Tri-Leaf Seedlings
Nearly all cannabis plants that are grown from seed will start with just two leaves per set, like the following:
Normal cannabis seedling (2 leaves per set)
Every once in a while, growers will run into a “tri-leaf” seedling. This is a relatively common mutation, and you’re likely to run into it eventually if you germinate a lot of cannabis seeds. A 3-leaf cannabis seedling should generally be treated like any other seedling.
These seedlings grow about 1/3 more side branches than a regular plant, so a 3-leaf seedling might be a good candidate for cannabis plant training or a ScrOG setup.
Tri-leaf cannabis seedlings (3 leaves per set)
Some plants will grow in this pattern from seed to harvest, while other plants “grow out of it” and eventually start growing with just 2 leaves per node after a certain point.
2.) Two-Toned Leaves
Two-toned leaves usually have split coloring in a relatively straight line. This mutation often affects just one or two leaves on the whole plant, though sometimes you’ll get a whole stem or part of the plant that displays this characteristic.
The two-toned leaves don’t seem to have much effect on anything, but it’s kinda cool looking!
This is an example of “variegation” (wikipedia link) and may be due to a “sectorial chimera”. Other plants besides cannabis plants grow leaves like these, too!
Not to be confused with a nutrient deficiency, this mutation usually affects just one or two leaves on the plant. Nothing to worry about! Sometimes half of the leaf will turn purple…
More commonly, half of the leaf will turn light yellow or even white.
Here’s an example of a cola that is split down the middle between purple and green
Could you be seeing signs of Tobacco Mosaic Virus? (probably not, but can’t hurt to check!)
3.) Buds Growing From Center of Leaf
Here’s a normal cannabis leaf. Cannabis leaves are beautiful, but they typically don’t contain an extremely high concentration of THC. At least not compared to the buds. Therefore most growers don’t actually smoke the leaves.
Normal Cannabis Leaf (no buds growing from the base)
But some mutations give your leaves a bonus… free extra buds!
Some plants produce cannabis leaves with buds growing from the base
This is a mutation I’d love to see on my plants one day 🙂 Though strangely placed, these buds seem to be like any other buds found on the plant. You basically get a couple of extra buds encrusted with cannabinoids & trichomes!
These cannabis plants have THC-encrusted buds growing from the center of each leaf
The following leaf-bud has grown a single calyx with a few pistils
Here’s another amazing plant – imagine what you could do with all the trim!
The following nug is almost 1/2 gram – Talk about a bonus!
This unusual case “hermed” which means the center bud is growing both male and female flowers (notice the yellow “bananas” in addition to the lovely female hairs). Unfortunately, like any herm plant, this should be removed from the grow room immediately or it will make all the rest of your buds seedy from pollination.
4.) Cannabis Seeds Can Have “Twins”
Twin tap roots can sometimes emerge from a single cannabis seed. This is sort of like your seed having twins, because each new root comes with its own set of leaves and has the potential to form into a separate plant!
When this seedling sprouted, it had two taproots coming from the same seed
When the leaves appeared, there were two distinct seedlings – you can see another tiny set of leaves behind the main sprout (notice the taller seedling is also tri-leaf!)
In this case, I decided to kill the smaller sprout, but you can also gently and carefully separate the two seedlings and transplant one into a new home.
If you grow two seedlings together in one container, one plant will usually end up being a lot smaller than the other one. But if you give each plant their own home, they can both thrive!
5.) Plant Topped Itself
What’s interesting about this case is that the plant naturally did something that many growers do on purpose. Cannabis plants normally grow in a triangle tree shape, and growers often cut or train the plant in order to grow more low and bushy, with many main buds instead of just one. Growers often achieve a low and bushy growth pattern with a plant training technique known as “topping.” Learn more about topping.
Here is a normal young cannabis plant with a regular growth tip (set of leaves) at the top:
So to get rid of this top growth node, a grower would normally cut it off, like this
Now the following plant had a strange mutation…
This plant randomly grew a leaf instead of a growth node, so it naturally topped itself, take a look!
This Royal Cookies Autoflowering plant did basically the same thing
Single-point leaves appeared where there should have been a growing tip, which effectively topped the plant above the first node. It stayed on the small side and yielded less than its sister plants (like many plants with unusual growth mutations), but buds still came out great!
6.) Unusual Leaf Shape
Cannabis leaves sometimes appear in unusual shapes. You may see the odd leaves all over the plant, and or only here and there.
This leaf had a double tip on one of its points
“Ducksfeet” strains (learn where to find the Ducksfoot strain)
“ABC” or Australian Bastard Cannabis (learn more about the ABC strain)
Pretty neat, huh?
In addition to the actual shape of the leaves, sometimes you’ll see plants with an unusual number of “fingers” on each leaf…
7.) Unusual Number of “Points” on Each Leaf
The “standard” number of points on a cannabis leaf is considered to be 7. It’s also common to see 9 points per leaf on a mature plant. But some plants have even more or less!
A “normal” leaf has 7 points. Here’s a typical cannabis leaf shape.
However, there can be a surprising amount of variation between leaves, even on the same plant. And some plants naturally grow more or less than others.
This leaf has 13 points!
But sometimes you see the opposite. This plant only grew single-point leaves from seed to harvest. It doesn’t even look that much like a cannabis plant from far away!
Each of these leaves only has one point
Here’s one last example of strange leaves, though this is caused by the environment and not a mutation. Look what happens when you revert a flowering plant back to the vegetative stage.
This is a Re-Vegged Plant (not a mutation)
I hope you enjoyed this quick tour of common cannabis plant mutations 🙂
Have you seen an interesting or unique plant mutation? Submit a picture of your cannabis oddity and we may add it here!