When you think of mutations, you quickly think of peculiar and wonderful changes to an organism. Although it is a perfectly normal process, it can sometimes produce strange and fascinating features. Weed is no exception to this. Below, we cover some of the most fascinating mutations that occur in cannabis plants and what effects they can have on your plant’s growth. In some cases, it’s little more than an aesthetic difference. But sometimes they can drastically change the entire plant!
What are cannabis mutations?
Genetic mutations occur constantly when cells divide, both in an organism and when two organisms multiply. When mutations occur during cell division, they can lead to negligible or dramatic results. When a mutation occurs in the creation of a new species, it may turn out to be good or bad. That process is called evolution. Because of the nature of recessive alleles, many mutations occur completely unnoticed. For example, if someone has the genes for both blue and brown eyes, that person will almost always have brown eyes. Brown is the dominant allele and blue is recessive. The genotype is the genetic makeup; the phenotype refers to the genetic expression. When it comes to weed, many plants carry the genetic code with the mutations we discuss below. In most cases, however, these are never expressed. But occasionally two plants are crossed where the recessive alleles become dominant. Thus mutated phenotypes are created. They are discussed in detail below. Cannabis cultivation guideClick here
Mutations in cannabis leaves
The leaves of cannabis plants are, at least visually, the most recognizable and familiar part of the cannabis plant. Even people who have never put a joint to their lips recognize a cannabis leaf in a split second. Those five jagged leaf fingers are so distinctive that it’s almost impossible to imagine that a cannabis leaf could look any other way. Although rare, some mutations can produce completely different weed leaves than you’re used to. Among other things, that can come in handy if you want to grow inconspicuously and discreetly.
This mutation is so popular that people decided to keep it around. Thanks to selective breeding, there are a number of seed banks that can help you if you want to grow plants with this fascinating trait. One of the most famous examples is Frisian Duck. ‘Duckfoot’ is weed jargon for pinnatifidofilla. It is also known as a ‘simple leaf mutation’, ‘palmy lobed leaf mutation’ or ‘flipper’. It was first photographed in The Journal of Heredity in 1922 by Walter Scott Malloch, who was studying heredity in the progeny of plant species. This mutation was stabilized in 1916. Lyster Dewey was the first to isolate this recessive gene. The original species was named Ferramington, named after its parents. These were Kymington, a selected Minnesota #8 and a landrace native to Ferrara, Italy. That is also where this mutation is thought to have originated. View Frisian Duck (Dutch Passion) feminized (23) Parents: Frisian Dew x DucksFoot Genetics: Indica-dominant Flowering time: 8-9 weeks THC: 7% CBD: Unknown Flowering type: Photoperiod
Australian Bastard Cannabis
Australian Bastard Cannabis (ABC) is another great example of how a natural mutation is preserved to change cannabis for human use. As the name suggests, this mutation originated in Australia. In the mid-1970s, the mutation made its appearance in breeding circles of Sydney, Australia. Its short and stocky growth, lack of jagged leaves and overall vine-like appearance made this mutation an excellent candidate for cannabis experiments. Despite its low THC content, you could cross a strong strain with it to still maintain a discrete plant. That’s exactly what happened, making this mutation so famous. Several attempts have been made to transfer these genes into a commercially viable strain. Yet much remains to be done to ensure stability.
Variegation and albinism
You probably know that cannabis plants can develop different colors. For example, purple is a color often found in indica plants from colder regions. But did you know that cannabis plants can also be albino? That is, without pigment. The technical term for this condition is variegation. The phenomenon is caused by a genetic defect of the genes that regulate chlorophyll. Sometimes these characteristics are limited to specific parts of the plant. For example, only the buds or leaves may be colorless. Although it looks pretty, these plants are not particularly efficient at producing weed. They also often die off quickly. Due to the lack of chlorophyll, they cannot use light for photosynthesis. This is pretty indispensable for plants!
Variegated leafiness is the result of variegation, probably from a genetic chimerism. In this process, multiple shades appear on a single leaf. You have nothing to fear from partial chimeras in the grow room. But of course you should not confuse a bicolored leaf with signs of a nutritional deficiency (where usually the majority of the leaves are affected). In contrast, variegation caused by a mutation usually affects only one or a few leaves of the plant.
Mutations in buds
Not only cannabis leaves can mutate into strange and surprising shapes. The buds of cannabis plants are also capable of exhibiting peculiar and unique characteristics. Occasionally, these produce special effects and aromas for the curious stoner. In rare cases, they can even be manipulated to produce a huge harvest. Sometimes they are simply an interesting anomaly.
Buds with foxtails
Foxtails are a touchy subject for some people. We know that there are several reasons for this phenomenon. These range from purely genetic to heat stress, pests, nutritional boosters and hyper-tuned NPK nutrients. Foxtails are best described as spontaneous growth sprouts on the top. These spiral upward, much like a foxtail. It is common in grow rooms around the world. At one time, foxtails had a bad name. To be fair, they’re not the most desirable feature either. Visually it looks strange and it can have both a positive and negative effect on productivity. In some cases, the less attractive appearance is offset by incredible yields. But in other situations, exactly the opposite happens. The best growers recognize this phenotype and know how to adjust their nutritional regime to “hack” the grow for huge harvests. But if you do it wrong, a plant can become stressed, stunting its growth through over-fertilization. Still, foxtailing is not a real danger to the plant. In terms of effect and taste, it does not affect the final quality of the weed. When it occurs due to a genetic trait, the phenotype produces fragile, small plants with tiny buds. No one is happy about that. On the other hand, certain phosphorus-tolerant strains can develop foxtails right after a PK boost mid- or late-growth. With good timing, you can thereby produce buds the size of baseballs that are actually made up of bundles of compact, tiny foxtails.
In one of the strangest cannabis mutations, plants produce buds in the core of the leaves, where they converge on the stem. These are never large buds. Currently, no one knows for sure what causes this. Yet this mutation is also being investigated as a way to increase yields. Hopefully in time we will gain more insight into this fascinating anomaly.
Polyploidy is the scientific term for plants with extra developed parts. In other words elephantiasis for the plant world. In the case of cannabis, the plants are generally a lot larger than their regular counterparts of the same species. Yet this trait cannot be transferred to other plants and it does not seem to hold up even when genetically crossed with other species. There is anecdotal evidence that the mutation can lead to unprecedented harvests of immensely strong weed. This is because these plants have twice as many genes as normal plants. Yet there is no scientific basis for this. Does it happen to strike one of your plants? Then let her grow and see what happens!
This mutation has become known through strains such as Dr. Grinspoon. When this occurs in weed, the calyxes grow completely separate from each other instead of packed together in dense buds. In this respect, the buds are reminiscent of a bunch of berries. The mutation is fairly common, especially in landraces from South Asia and South America. Compared to normal buds, they are not very productive and take a long time to mature. So why are they isolated to make special varieties? Although they are less productive than other varieties, strains with these stringy buds deliver unique psychotropic and aromatic qualities. This makes them particularly sought after by people who like to explore the myriad different phenotypes of weed. View Dr. Grinspoon (Barney’s Farm) feminized (7) Parents: heirloom Genetics: 100% Sativa Flowering time: 13-14 weeks THC: 25% CBD: 0-1% Flowering type: Photoperiod
Mutations of cannabis plants
Some mutations affect the entire plant or the way it grows. Often these are more extreme in nature. Instead of changing one aspect of the plant, they give it a substantially different appearance. These aberrations are truly fascinating, especially if you have an interest in mutations. They are among the most impressive mutations you can observe for yourself, even if they negatively affect your harvest.
Wreath-standing leaf position (three-leaf seedlings)
This mutation causes a seedling to create extra internodal leaves. This is also known as vertical leaf position. A normal cannabis plant develops two internodal leaves. In contrast, these little monsters create three or more. Sometimes the phenomenon is also called craned leaf position. What does it boil down to? If your plant exhibits a curly leaf position, cherish it. However, most growers are not fond of this abnormality. While these plants can absorb more light energy than most, it can also lead to hermaphroditism. So pay close attention!
Climbing Plant Weed
This is where the mutations start to get really interesting and even downright bizarre. Climbing plant weed is a offshoot of the ABC mentioned above. The rare mutation seems to rear its head when crossed with another unidentified mutation. It results in a cannabis plant that behaves like hops, a closely related climbing plant. Hops (Humulus lupulus) belong to the hemp family (Cannabacea). In this mutation, the cannabis plant develops thinner, elongated stems that intertwine. This twisting, rank-like behavior is not at all common to cannabis and reflects early ancestral traits. Still, it’s an interesting mutation that will make you think.
Now we enter the twilight zone of mutations. What if a plant becomes so gigantic that the branches bend all the way to the ground and re-root? That is exactly what has been observed in the wild. In tropical regions with high humidity, there are certain sativas that exhibit this bizarre trait. They develop elongated stems that are more like lianas than regular weed stems. As they become heavier, they can bend until they finally touch the ground and take root again! Once these branches land in the rhizosphere, new, extra vigorous growth appears. It’s almost as if the plant is developing tentacles to move around. Very little is known about this mutation. Yet it offers exciting possibilities for breeders.
When germinating some cannabis seeds (polyembryonic seeds), sometimes two plants appear. This phenomenon is called polyembryony. In humans, it also occurs. In this case, however, one plant is normal while the other is a clone of the mother. As with human Siamese twins, you cannot separate these plants too early. Separate them when they are about 20-25cm tall. Do not confuse this phenomenon with the so-called ‘Siamese twin weed’. This is a mutation in which two plants share the same root.
It is not entirely clear whether this is an unusual mutation or something that any cannabis plant is capable of under certain circumstances. It probably has something to do with improper nutrition at the beginning of growth. This causes the plant to focus its energy on the sideways growth of leaves instead of upwards. Whatever the cause, the result is a plant that tops itself. It’s certainly not a disaster and you can still achieve decent harvests. Depending on when it happens, you don’t even have to lose the main bud!
Do you need to worry about cannabis mutations?
You have absolutely no need to worry about cannabis mutations. They are in the DNA of your plants. Therefore, in most cases, there is nothing you can do about them. A few mutations, such as foxtails, can be aggravated by environmental stress. Nevertheless, in this case you can, if you do it right, increase your yields considerably. Even if it is at the expense of appearance. In general, cannabis plants are mutants or not. It is important, however, that you watch out for those mutations that carry a higher chance of hermaphroditism. If that happens, a plant can pollinate the rest of your grow and thus affect the harvest. Still, it pays to care for mutant cannabis plants until harvest, even if the results aren’t great. If you have green fingers, seeing a mutation as a climbing plant weed is more enchanting than irritating. Let the plant climb over a trellis and who knows, she might surprise you with a generous harvest.