Cannabis is a member of the Cannabaceae family.  

The Cannabaceae family is a diverse family made up of at least 10 genera as well as over 150 different species. These flowering plants are found throughout most of the world where tropical and temperate weather exists.  Cannabaceae ranges from large trees and vines to herbaceous plants and can be annual or perennial. Celtis is the largest genus in the family with over 100 species. Cannabaceae plants tend to be dioecious, meaning they have a separate plant for male and female flowers. Their flowers are not usually showy (no corollas and only a small calyx) and the plants are frequently wind pollinated. The male flower is long while the female counterpart is compact.

Cannabis an annually flowering dicot that can grow up to 15 feet tall. Pairs of leaves grow from each node in early growth phases (opposite arrangement) and transition to a single leaf per node (alternate arrangement) as it matures. The leaves are palmately compound (palm shaped) with serrated leaflets. Plants typically have 7 to 9 leaflets, although some will have more depending on the species, growing inputs and variety type. C. indica and C. sativa are short day/long night flowering plants, C. ruderalis appears to be auto-flowering and is unaffected by photoperiod.  

Typically Cannabis is dioecious, meaning male and female reproductive organs are on separate plants, but it can produce monoecious plants, where the male and female flowers form on the same plant. Stressors like the use of chemical treatments or a harsh environment increase the likelihood of producing what is commonly referred to as a “hermaphrodite”. Cannabis produces a fruit called an achene, known to most as a cannabis seed. Female flowers form as racemes, separate flowers attached by short equal stalks at equal distances along a central stem. Females have a prominent calyx, a green structure that protects its reproductive organs. Protruding out from the short calyx is a small hair called a pistil, where the ovary, style and stigma are contained. The male flowers form as panicles, loose branching clusters like oat, and produce 5 stamens that droop downward.  Male plants flower 1 to 2 weeks earlier than female plants.

Female flowers on Cannabis produce more trichomes than male flowers. Trichomes are responsible for deterring predators, protect from wind damage, potential fungus blooms and damaging solar radiation. The stickiness of the trichomes aids in pollen collection. From a medical and recreational standpoint their most important attribute to Cannabis in the production of cannabinoids and terpenes.