Understanding the Taxonomic Ranks

A plant is defined as a multicellular organism that typically produces their own food (photosynthesis) and has more or less rigid cell walls containing cellulose. There are many different types of plants including vascular plants, mosses, liverworts, and hornworts. All plants belong to the plant kingdom, however, there are also different classification schemes that may include fungi, algae, bacteria, blue-green algae, and certain single-celled eukaryotes (cells with membrane-bound nuclei) that have plant-like qualities in the plant kingdom as well. Cannabis is a plant. It belongs to the plant kingdom because it undergoes the process of photosynthesis and has rigid cell walls containing cellulose. 

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Secondary Compounds in Cannabis

When we talk about plants, we talk about two categories of compounds: Primary compounds and Secondary compounds. Primary compounds are the compounds essential for the survival of the plant. Primary compounds include by-products of metabolic functions, such as the nutrients produced from photosynthesis. They also include compounds that make up the vascular tissues - xylem and phloem - needed to transport minerals and nutrients throughout the plant. They even include things like plant fibers and proteins. Cellulose is a good example of a primary compound as it is the compound that gives plant cell walls their rigid structure. Without primary compounds, plants would not be able to survive.

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Cannabis History & Taxonomic Classification

In the 1700’s, people began to question that the church had all of the answers for the phenomenons of the natural world. This time period is often described as the ‘Age of Enlightenment’. Philosophers and pioneers of this age would go on to create the scientific method and other schools of thought that would eventually lay the foundation for Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution proposed in the mid 1800’s. Carl Linnaeus was one of the great minds of the Age of Enlightenment. He is deemed the father of modern taxonomy as he created the taxonomic classification system we use today. He saw the need to group organisms based on shared characteristics so that we could better understand the world around us.

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Are Hemp and Cannabis Products The Same?

Hemp is often thought of as a subspecies of Cannabis. But many people are confused as to the difference between the hemp and cannabis plant. Hemp and the modern day “drug-cultivar” Cannabis took two very different breeding pathways. Hemp plants actually belong to the cannabis sativa species and they are bred specifically for their primary compounds, like proteins and fibers. Whereas the “drug-cultivar” cannabis refers to any cannabis plant that has been bred for its secondary compounds, specifically an elevated THC concentration.

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Basic Cannabis Breeding

We know that the cannabis plant is a dioecious organism, meaning that it has separate male and female plants. However, there are times when the male and female sex organs do exist on the same plant. The process by which this happens is referred to as ‘herming’.  When the female plant is stressed due to lack of water, light, or nutrients, the female flower can produce male reproductive organs aka stamen. 

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