Our weed seeds are feminized for a reason. After all, female weed plants produce the best weed. At least, until the flowers are fertilized. As a grower, you want to prevent this, because seeds in the weed are not desirable. Moreover, you see the yield will drop as soon as a weed plant is fertilized. For this reason, we keep male weed plants far away. But there is another danger of fertilization lurking: the hermaphrodite.

What is an Hermaphrodite?

Hermaphrodite means double gender or intersex. When we talk about hermaphrodite weed plants, we are describing weed plants that have both male and female sexual characteristics. The term comes from the Greek god Hermaphroditus, who had breasts and a penis. Weed plants are normally of double gender. But under special circumstances hermaphrodites can arise. If a weed plant is subjected to excessive stress during its growth due to poor living conditions, it can become hermaphroditic.


Adult male weed plant.

Why you don't want an Hermaphrodite Weed Plant

In the introduction we briefly mentioned that male weed plants fertilize the females. Normally the weed plant reproduces in the following way: the males produce pollen that is carried along by the wind or insects. When the pollen reaches the flowers of the female weed plant, the female has all that is needed to produce seeds. When the seeds are ripe, they fall off and nature makes sure that under the right circumstances a few new weed plants grow the following year.


 
Once dried, hermaphrodite weed can look like this.

While males and females need each other to reproduce, hermaphrodites produce pollen as well as flowers. So a herma can fertilize itself, but also the females around her. Or the neighbours' weed. A hermaphrodite among the weed is therefore (almost) as undesirable as a male in the neighbourhood. Have a look at the disadvantages of males and hermas:

  • Nobody likes hot weed seeds in their joint. It makes the smoking experience very unpleasant. Moreover, there are stories of seeds bursting apart.
  • Once a female has been fertilized, the plant's energy goes into producing seeds. As a result, the flowers remain as large as they are at the moment of fertilization.
  • Males and hermaphrodites produce pollen balls which are of no use to us as blower.

Why say "almost" as undesirable as a male? There are two exceptions. Read on to find out when it's best to keep a hermaphrodite.

Recognizing a Hermaphrodite weed plant

So it is important to recognize hermaphrodite weed plants in an early stage. But there is one side note: even after the start of flowering, a weed plant can still become hermaphroditic. The sex of a weed plant can usually be determined after a few weeks of growth. In the leaf pits, just before flowering, differences between males and females are clearly visible. In our blog about male and female weed plants we have written extensively about this topic, but to a lesser extent about hermaphrodites.


 
Female (left) | Male (right).

The best trick is to check several places on the plant when determining gender to see if the weed plant is not secretly producing pollen balls as well. 


 
A later stage of a hermaphrodite. Make sure you catch it in time.

How does an Hermaphrodite emerge?

There are three reasons why a hermaphrodite can emerge. Firstly, there are the genetics that we as growers can do little about. If the seed has the predisposition to become hermaphroditic, it doesn't need much during cultivation for this to manifest itself. If the seeds are carelessly treated during feminization, hermaphroditic weed seeds can also be produced. However, this process is extremely rare nowadays. From both our house brand weed seeds and renowned brands, the process of feminization feminizing is so standardized that you don't need to worry about it. 

Therefore, stress is the main cause of the increased reproductive urge in weed plants. In some cases, this can lead to hermaphroditism. An example. The writer of this article had a beautiful Master Kush in a huge specie tub in the garden in 2020. In August, we had a summer storm in the Netherlands and the weed plant split in two after a monstrous gust of wind. The weed plant had been topped quite young to increase yield and one of the branches broke off. That had to be the end of the poor plant. But the other half continued to grow and flower! Everything seemed to be fine. Well, we lost half of the harvest, but to have the other half left seemed like a blessing in disguise. Then, when harvesting and finally drying the weed, it turned out to contain weed seeds. Apparently, the incredible stress of the storm had released something in the Master Kush. So the plant had devoted everything to the survival of the offspring and "plop", a few extra sexual organs appeared.


 
A hermaphrodite top: flowers and seed balls.

What to do when you find an Hermaphrodite?

We can be brief about that: remove the plant immediately. Even if you have only one plant in the garden, it is best to remove the hermaphrodite weed plant. Because weed plant pollen rises exceptionally far on a breath of wind. Let alone such a devastating storm as August 2020! Pollen from your hermaphrodite can easily fertilize the females next door or down the street. It is therefore social and decent to remove a hermaphrodite weed plant in the garden.

Professional growers who want to propagate are quite happy with a hermaphrodite, since the incredible urge to reproduce can lead to the rapid fertilization of many plants.

The only exception we see in recreational weed growing is this. If you have just one weed plant that has hermaphrodite characteristics and you grow it indoors in an enclosed space, then you can keep it alive. Contrary to what many people think, the weed is still usable. You could for example use it to make a weed oil or a space cake, but you can even just put it in the vaporizer. In a vaporizer the weed does not get hot enough to ignite, but substances such as THC and CBD are released. As long as you don't put weed with seeds in a joint and light it, there is no problem. Maybe the effect is not as strong as you had hoped, but a light weed is also relaxing at times!


 Weed with seeds in it? Not entirely useless.

Preventing Hermaphroditic Weed 

Preventing a hermaphrodite is a synonym for good care and giving a weed plant exactly what it needs. Just enough water, nutrition and light are the best tips we can give for keeping your weed plant feminine. Keeping the pH value, under control and keeping the humidity at the right level also help to keep the plant in top condition. And of course always keep a close eye on it! Check your plants regularly. Do they have both male and female sexual characteristics? Take action right away to prevent more hermaphrodite weed plants. Then you will not give the plant a reason to become two-gendered. 

Yet you can't always do something about it. Storms like this do happen and a plague of insects is always lurking. If you do spot a hermaphrodite between the ladies, then it is important to act quickly: remove the plant as quickly as possible if you have several weed plants or know that there is a plant being grown further down the road.