7 Common Cannabis Plant Mutations

Published Apr 25, 2020

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)

Tiny marijuana seedling just sprouted from rockwool in a hydroponic setup

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)

3-leaf marijuana seedling emerges from the soil

Tri-leaf cannabis seedling - this is a relatively common mutation and you should treat the seedling like any other cannabis seedling

Tri-leaf cannabis plant

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!

Two-tone cannabis leaf - natural mutation

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…

Two tone cannabis leaf - purple/green split down the middle

A second view of that purple-green cannabis split - 2-toned leaf randomly appeared on outdoor cannabis plant, no other leaves were affected

More commonly, half of the leaf will turn light yellow or even white.

Yellow/green split down the middle of this two-color cannabis leaf

Both sides of the nodes created leaves that had a yellow/green split straight down the middle - this is a relatively common mutation and there's no need to worry if it affects just one or two cannabis plant leaves

Example of a two-tone marijuana leaf - a common mutation

Here’s an example of a cola that is split down the middle between purple and green

This cannabis cola is two-tone - it's 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!)

Example of cannabis leaf symptoms that may or may not be caused by TMV (tobacco mosaic virus)

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)

Normal healthy cannabis leaf - no buds to be found

But some mutations give your leaves a bonus… free extra buds!

Some plants produce cannabis leaves with buds growing from the base

Bud growing on center of cannabis leaf - mutation

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

Marijuana leaf with trichome-encrusted bud growing directly in the center where the leaf meets the stem

Here’s another amazing plant – imagine what you could do with all the trim!

Cannabis flower growing from a leaf in an unusual place - this one is absolutely covered in glittery trichomes

The following nug is almost 1/2 gram – Talk about a bonus!

Trichome-covered bud growing from a cannabis leave - 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

This cannabis seed germinated with two tap roots - "twins"

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!)

Twin seedlings - two sets of cannabis cotyledons (first round leaves) coming out of one seed

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.

Example of "twin" cannabis plants (two seedlings from just one marijuana seed)

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!

See more examples of cannabis seedling twins, and see how one grower separated twins into two plants!

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:

A regular healthy young cannabis plant with a growth tip on top

So to get rid of this top growth node, a grower would normally cut it off, like this

A regular healthy young cannabis plant with a growth tip on top

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!

Mutated plant topped itself when it grew a leaf instead of a new growth node on top

Another view of the naturally "self-topped" cannabis plant

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

Some leaf shapes have become favored and been developed into their own strains. These differences likely started out as a random mutation, but have been developed into full “strains” of cannabis.

“Ducksfeet” strains (learn where to find the Ducksfoot strain)

Cannabis plant with ducksfoot style leavesA closeup of a deep purple, beautiful Frisian Duck bud

“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!

Cannabis leaf with 13 "fingers" or 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

Plant grows with single-finger leaves

The same picture from above but a closer...

What can the number of “points” tell you about a cannabis plant?

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)

This plant has been "revegged" or "monstercropped", which basically means it was flowering then put back into the vegetative stage again.

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!

 

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