Genetic Mutations in Cannabis

When we cultivate cannabis outdoors or indoors, it is always exciting, especially if it’s our first time, as it opens us up to a new world of opportunities in which anything is possible, and in which the growers wishes, doubts and dedication are combined.

The usual way is to start reading, immersing oneself in reference books to make sure everything, or at least the basic notions, are clear before getting down to work. What can leave us, either with a strong sense of being overwhelmed, or with full understanding of the "Kung Fu of cannabis cultivation."

Philosopher Seeds varieties
A grow of Philosopher Seeds varieties

Even so, we can always learn new and incredibly curious things from cannabis, thanks to the fact that in this day and age these plants are loved, cultivated and studied by so many people that it never ceases to amaze us.

On this occasion, we ‘re going to talk about the most curious genetic mutations that can appear in cannabis plants, how to distinguish them from any cultivation errors and so that you can show them to your friends and amaze them as you share a joint.

Cannabis with “stringy” flowers

Stringy - MamaMarihuana (Foro Arcuma)
Cannabis with Stringy Buds - MamaMarihuana (Arcuma)

This is one of the best known cannabis mutations, familiar to many from the legendary sativa variety Dr Grinspoon, and it stands out for creating buds where the calyxes grow completely separated from each other, distributed along the branches, as if they were berries.

It is relatively common in landrace cannabis sativa genetics originating in Southeast Asia or South America.

Plants with this mutation take a long time to mature, are less productive, difficult to harvest and offer high ratios of hermaphroditism, but their unique aromatic and psychoactive characteristics make the extra effort in cultivating them worthwhile.

Polyploidy or Gigantism in Cannabis


Cannabis is a diploid plant, meaning that it receives half of its genetic information from the father and the other half from the mother, but in cases of polyploidy this genetic information is duplicated, so that the plant has twice as many DNA chains than it ought to, in some cases even more.

The result of this mutation usually manifests itself in the form of huge buds with a really strange looking, repetitive structure, with many more leaves, calyxes and stigmas than is normal.

Some growers believe that this type of mutation significantly increases the yield and potency of the cannabis harvest, but there is no specialist research or literature to back this theory up, so all we can really say is that the plants have a bizarre, "Picasso" look to them.

Polyploid Cannabis - Oldbootz (ICMag)
Polyploid Cannabis - Oldbootz (ICMag)

Secondary buds on leaves

Another curious mutation is one that causes some plants to develop small secondary buds on the leaves, often at the rachis, where the leaflets meet the leaf stem or petiole, and also on the low branches of the plant and where the secondary branches meet the stem.

It is a visually attractive mutation, and it gives growers the impression that it will increase the yield at harvest time, but in reality it’s better to eliminate these small “sucker buds", since they divert energy away from the main flowers, decreasing their final volume, following the same logic used in most cannabis pruning techniques.

A bud developing at a leaf rachis - BinaryGrow (Arcuma)
A bud developing at a leaf rachis - BinaryGrow (Arcuma)

Whorled phyllotaxy

This intricate name is related to a mutation that’s as simple to understand as it is spectacular and beautiful to look at.

"Phyllotaxy" is the botanical term to describe how the leaves are placed on the stems, in what way and with what symmetry.

"Whorled phyllotaxy" means that from each node of the main stem there are 3 or more leaves/secondary branches, instead of the two that are normal in the cannabis varieties from Philosopher Seeds and the other seed banks.

So, instead of getting plants with two leaves per node, one on each side, we will get much more dense and leafy nodes, from which will emerge 3 leaves and sometimes more, producing more bushy and rounded plants.

This mutation can mean that the harvests are more abundant than usual, but unfortunately also increases the probability that will be plant is male in the case of sowing regular seeds. In addition, this feature can not be transmitted through crosses, so if you find a female keeper with this trait, consider yourself very lucky indeed.

Whorled phyllotaxy - Cannabisguru (Arcuma)
Whorled phyllotaxy - Cannabisguru (Arcuma)

ABC, Australian Bastard Cannabis

ABC (originally called Cannabis Australis or Bindi Buds) is a genotype of cannabis discovered in the 1970s on the outskirts of the city of Sydney, Australia, with a look so strange and peculiar that it doesn’t really resemble weed at all, which led certain cultivators to believe it was a new subfamily of cannabis.

This variety develops with an appearance similar to that of a shrub with very small, shiny, rounded leaves with smooth edges, no more than 5cm in length.

In its landrace form, it yields very little and offers very low cannabinoid levels, although it stands out for having very good resistance to cold and to fungal pathogens such as Botrytis, thanks to its peculiar morphology.

Some growers and breeders have tried to exploit this trait through hybrids and selections, but at the time of writing none have yet come to fruition and made a name in the commercial market.

ABC - ILoveIt (ICMag)
ABC - ILoveIt (ICMag)

Cannabis that grows like a vine

It is said that, after experimenting with the Australian Bastard Cannabis, a phenotype was found with an extremely anomalous growth pattern, in which its branches grew entwined together, similar to the way hops or a grapevine develop.

Even so, this is a totally anecdotal mutation, as it does not provide any real advantage and nobody has continued to work with this phenotype.

"DucksFoot" Cannabis

In this case, we are talking about a mutation that causes the plants to develop leaves with the leaflets stuck together, without any separation between them, resembling the webbed feet of ducks.

In fact, the leaf is so different to those of all other cannabis genetics that it’s the ideal genotype for growers looking for the greatest possible discretion while cultivating, since it neither looks nor smells like cannabis. That is to say, if you are a lover of sweet and intense aromas, such as those produced by our favourites Fruity Jack or Lemon OG Candy, then you can forget about DucksFoot, it’s not the plant for you.

Marihuana DucksFoot - Big Sky (ICMag)
Marihuana DucksFoot - Big Sky (ICMag)

This mutation depends on a recessive gene, and is shown in Sativa dominant plants, so that if we find one we can keep it in our genetic closet and work with it, just like its discoverer Australian breeder Wally Duck has done.

In fact, if we hybridise DucksFoot genetics with a "normal" plant, about a quarter of the offspring will retain this trait.

Tentacular cannabis or "creeping phenotype"

This type of genetic alteration is very rare, and only occurs in certain families of tropical sativas grown in very humid areas, where the plants reach exaggeratedly large sizes and develop a multitude of lateral branches filled with buds.

Where this mutation is shown, rather than reaching upwards to the light, the branches of the plant grow down towards to the ground, driven by their own weight, desperately seeking an anchor point and sometimes developing roots at the points where they make contact with the ground.

This gives the plant extra vigour, since by having more roots it is able to uptake more food while at the same time making it more discreet, giving it an atypical, shrubby structure, and delighting growers who are seeking productive cannabis varieties.

Albino or variegated cannabis

Marihuana Albina - Lubema (Arcuma)
Marihuana Albina - Lubema (Arcuma)

Both of these mutations are similar, as in both cases we observe a discolouration of the leaves or buds.

Specifically, when plants show albinism, we see that their tissues are white or a very pale colour, due to a lack of pigmentation brought on by a genetic failure, and/or potentiated by environmental causes.

The appearance of these plants is as strange as it is beautiful, since the intense white colour blends in with the brightness of the cannabis trichomes, and makes it appear as if the plants have been completely frozen.

On the other hand, in variegated plants, we see that the leaves have two colours, forming really curious patterns of pigmentation, because the genes responsible for expressing it are shown differently.

The result is leaves with one half dark green and the other half light green, or in other cases areas of the plant have a normal colour, while others are paler shades, offering the grower a real spectacle for the eye.

Variegation - Cannabisguru (Arcuma)
Variegation - Cannabisguru (Arcuma)

These colour mutations do not offer any advantage to the grower, and indeed they can be an inconvenience in very albino plants or those with a great deal of discolouration, since, having much less chlorophyll, they will be limited in their ability to photosynthesise, which can slow down their growth and productivity, or even prevent them from developing and maturing correctly.

Polyembryonic seeds or "twins"

This is one of the most common and also the most pleasant surprises for a grower to experience, because from a single seed we can get two seedlings (or sometimes even three), yes, that’s right - two plants from one seed. What more could you ask for?

This trait isn't really a mutation, as there is no genetic alteration of any kind, but one of the seedlings is the result of the genetic mixture of the father's pollen and the mother's ovule, and the other develops directly from another maternal ovule, being a clone of the mother herself. In other words, the results obtained from the second plant will be the same as if we were growing a cutting or clone of the mother plant.

If we take good care of them and separate them carefully, we will obtain two healthy and strong plants, thereby doubling our harvest.

Polyembryonic seed - Lubema (Arcuma)
Polyembryonic seed - Lubema (Arcuma)

As we can see, cannabis is a plant with a thousand faces, and all of them are surprising. If we cultivate it with care, it can give us unlimited joy while always showing us new, incredible things, so don’t think about it any longer... get growing now!

Do you know another type of mutation? Share your knowledge about cannabis and write to us!

Comments in “Genetic Mutations in Cannabis” (7)


Robin Is an Philosopher Seeds client 2021-10-30
Hello. has anyone heard of MICROSEEDS ?! please who, I would like to talk to someone about it.

Philosopher seeds Staff

Tim 2021-11-04
Hi Robin, thanks for your comment. When you say Microseeds, are you referring to the phenomenon of tiny, immature seeds that often appear in the finished buds? I've seen this in a few varieties that I've grown and I'd always figured that the cause was likely to be an undetected male flower that must have appeared on one of the plants in late flower and managed to pollinate a few buds but being late in the flowering phase, there wasn't enough time left for them to properly mature. Another theory that I've seen is that these micro seeds are in fact the unpollinated ovules of the female flower that, in some cases, will grow to a slightly larger size despite not having been fecundated with pollen. From what I've read, certain varieties are more likely to be affected than others and stress could be a factor in the size they reach. If you have any further information or theories, we'd love to hear about them. Best wishes!


Max Power 2021-06-04
ABC has been hybridized and offered by 7East Genetics as of just 2 weeks ago. The buds are purple and the leaves are typical ABC leaves. Seeds only offered in regular (not feminized) but otherwise stable. They describe the cross/backcrossing they did to achieve these results, on their site. I'm growing some right meow. Cheers

Philosopher seeds Staff

Tim 2021-06-08
Hi Max, thanks for your comment and the info. Best wishes and happy growing!


HippieDrea 2021-04-05
I am growing plants which have the Whorled phyllotaxy and the PHENOTYPE (VINE-LIKE CANNABIS) OF ABD!!! THIS IS TOTALLY RANDOM, PLEASE HELP!! Thanks!

Philosopher seeds Staff

Tim 2021-04-13
Hi, thanks for your comment. Whorled phyllotaxy needn't be a bad thing, it all depends on the individual plant. Yes, it looks peculiar but that's not to say that it won't produce some great bud. Some growers even claim that yields are better with WP plants. I'd give it a chance if you can, it may turn out to be a great plant! I hope that helps, all the best!


James 2020-03-12
If I keep breeding with the smallest seeds what will happen?

Philosopher seeds Staff

Dani 2020-03-18
Hi James, While sometimes a plant produces seeds of different sizes, you won't have any problem as long as the smallest seeds germinate and produce healthy plants. What I mean is: you will not necessarily get "better" plants from the bigger seeds. Best!


Michael Richards 2019-12-30
hello ,im 64 and have grown pot for 48 yrs, i got seeds in 1978 from the kush mountians the seeds were the size of a pencil eraser w pumpkin like ridges around them the plants only reached about 5ft in a full season next to some other strain that were 8-10 ft under same conditions , they had verigated leaves (always) so was not a mutation and turned almost black at maturity i carfully pollenated the most verigated flowers which were white with the male that had the most verigation the result was albino seedlings that had no green and could not photosinthize light so they did not grow i grew the strain untill i was raided and my plants and seed stock were taken while the cops were cutting down my crop they comented that the black plants were not real pot little did they know it was the mythical black ganga indica which most people have never seen or smoked those that did claimed it was laced some even had a convulsion reaction to 1 hit , and passed out early testing done by U.S gov. research on pure indica showed 75-90% thc and thcv content i havent seen any strain close to it again even when judging the cup in Holland many times , strains today have been hybirdized so much they have lost potency not gained it the pure landrace strains we grew back in the 70s an 80s much more potent like everything else you had to be there ,Mel Frank and Ed Rosenthal were there and know the truth , have fun , Aloha


Lloyd mouthuy 2019-09-14
I have always drawn up highly potent killer weed out of good brickweed that can be from anywhere in the world .I understand unstabilized seed can go back 100 generations to when it is much purer form of thc than nowadays.10 yrs ago I drew up a sativa vine with cucumber tentacles that climbed other plants.I have what I believe to be an indica vine right tentacles.exact vinelike structure but makes little buds on small rubbery limbs that hang upside down.very awesome high all its own with a fantastic sharp exotic gets around 10 ft long not tall as it will lay out on other plants.quite potent 10 week is clone only extreme rarity .It must be preserved I don't want to lose it.the LM crazy jungle vine.I need help.Now I also have a clone only giant indica that gets around 10 to 12 ft. Indoors .hefty limbs that hold giant bud formations that are odd in structure.the high on this one is unreal heavy pleasentness that stays strong to the last of 3 to 4 hours.much better than ALOT of medical.again I need help with this one is a very sharp sour sour pine I have preserved both somewhat by making crosses with 3 diff super choice males.also drawn looks like pure Afghan .reekity skunk on the road.another vine deep exotic slinky.the third my feather leaf indica.the offspring on the LM giant indica look just like the mother.very uniformly alike.also giant.3 males 4 females.12 new strains .3 diff crosses of master kush .maybe a couple thousand seeds carefully catalogged.they all exhibit extreme hybrid vigor.several odd mutations none of which are listed.I only grow in worm dirt with giant nightcrawlers working the pots.I will send you a bunch of pics?

Philosopher seeds Staff

Dani 2019-09-18
Hi Lloyd, Wow, that is awesome, would love to see those pictures! You can send them to Thank you so much! ;)


Lynne 2019-08-31
I have a mutated seed that looks like three seeds that have formed together to make one seed that's kinda of star shaped. I've never seen a seed like this in the 35 years I've been dealing with marijuana and I was wondering if it will produce three sprouts? Also, how unusual is a seed like this?

Philosopher seeds Staff

Dani 2019-09-12
Hi Lynne, Well, it is something you definitely don't see every day! Unfortunately, there is a high chance that any of the three will make it (if I was you I'd germinate some more seeds just in case). Best!

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About this Cannabis Blog

This is the blog of the seed bank Philosopher Seeds. It is intended for the use of adults over the age of 18 years.

You'll find information on homegrowing cannabis, tips, tricks and news from the cannabis sector.

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