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Marijuana Leaf Identification and Lookalikes

Last Updated: March 02, 2022By Jason Levin

The marijuana leaf has long been an important, powerful symbol for the cannabis community. The leaf is so cherished that you can find beautiful marijuana leaf art, clothing covered with marijuana leaf images, or even sport a marijuana leaf necklace.

For marijuana lovers and those new to the herb, you need to understand the anatomy of the top cannabis leaves as well as those leaf types that you know nothing about.

It is essential to know when your plant is suffering and in bad health. This is not just because it’s part of being a good plant parent, but also because you’d likely want to consume the healthiest plants. Marijuana leaf problems are a clear sign that your marijuana plant is not happy; this article will help you know what to look for.

What Does a Marijuana Leaf Look Like                

cannabis leaf hybrid

If you are new to all of this, you may be wondering, what does a marijuana leaf look like? A simple search on the internet will lead you to all sorts of marijuana leaf images, including information on how to draw a marijuana leaf.  This isn’t a new phenomenon, either. The sativa and indica leaves have been a subject of art throughout history.

All forms of marijuana are a part of the Cannabis sativa L category. The “L” at the end of the name comes from Carl Linnaeus’s last name. Carl is an important figure in Cannabis history. In 1753, he was the first person to classify and name the species according to the modern taxonomic nomenclature that he created.

Now, this is not to say Carl was the first to find marijuana since we know this herb has been around for thousands of years. Instead, he created an allocated system that helps us identify plants and animals, which we have been using for about 260 years.

Sativa Leaf

cannabis sativa leaf

Smokable sativa leaves can originate from male plants (hemp), or female plants. By looking at marijuana leaf images, you can easily see their color ranges from light to dark green. A large marijuana sativa leaf may have up to thirteen slim, ragged, spiky tips.

Cannabis leaves have a greater purpose than just getting you high or providing medical relief. Marijuana can actually play a role in saving the planet. The male plants generate more CBD than THC, and they are grown for a large variety of eco-friendly benefits.

Indica Leaf

cannabis indica leaf

Contrary to what Carl Linnaeus thought, there are far more types of marijuana leaves than what you’d find on the sativa plant. Indica leaves are shorter and broader than sativa leaves. They also have up to nine olive-colored leaflets.

In 1785, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, a French biologist, came up with the name Cannabis indica to separate the unique qualities of indica plants. At that time, indica was used for its medicinal properties, while sativa hemp had agricultural uses in Europe.


D.E. Janischevsky, a Russian botanist, determined a new type of marijuana plant that he gave the name Cannabis ruderalis. Ruderalis was frequently used by the Russians to cure depression.

Ruderalis leaves have five to thirteen leaflets which closely resemble the indica leaf. The main difference between the two types is that ruderalis leaves are a little smaller and slimmer. This species does not have as much THC as the other strains of marijuana.

Modern marijuana plant growers experiment with mixing indica and ruderalis plants to make cannabis strains that can mature in less time. Crossbreeding ruderalis and sativa create auto-flowering strains that do not require their grower to alter the plant’s light exposure as it is growing.

Wild Weed Leaf Strains

The cannabis plant tends to mutate frequently. These mutated leaves will not have the most reliable medicinal properties.

Here are the three most well-known cannabis leaf mutations:

The Whorled Marijuana Leaf

While no research proves this to be true, many modern cannabis growers think that plants with a whorled marijuana leaf grow more potent flowers.

Australian Bastard Cannabis

Australian Bastard Cannabis is one of the popular marijuana mutations. It has leaflets with up to five points, hairless and grows just a few centimeters long.

The Webbed Cannabis Leaf

In the past, growers used to plant the webbed mutation because it is much easier to disguise since marijuana used to be illegal. Over time the webbed marijuana leaf has become far less popular since growers can now legally plant and grow regular marijuana without fear of getting in trouble.

Now let’s discuss how to recognize when your plants are unhealthy.

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Signs a Marijuana Leaf is Unhealthy

You must pay close attention to marijuana leaves to spot signs of sickness. A marijuana leaf will display discoloration and decay whenever the plant is lacking essential nutrients like calcium, manganese, phosphorus, boron, copper, molybdenum, potassium, zinc, or sulfur.

Here are some marijuana leaf symptoms to look out for:

Boron Deficiency

There are two ways to spot boron deficiency in marijuana plants.

  1. Purple soft stems between the cannabis leaf and the main body of the plant.
  2. Huge brown and gray spot on the leaves.

The best way to prevent boron deficiency is to keep your plant watered properly, maintain a humidity level of over 25 percent in your grow room and, lastly, never give the plant too much fertilizer.

Molybdenum Deficiency

This type of deficiency can be hard to identify since it appears very similar to other problems like calcium and nitrogen deficiency. One way to detect molybdenum deficiency is by looking for brown coloring with crunchy edges that develop an orange or pin pigment in the center.

To treat molybdenum deficiency, cleanse the growing medium with pure 6.0 pH water. After that, be sure the pH of your soil remains prime condition going forward.

Magnesium Deficiency

The leaf of a marijuana plant with a magnesium deficiency will turn yellow. At some point, the leaves will become brown and very dry. In order to get your baby back in good health, rinse the soil well with  6.0 pH water. You will also need to add a good quality magnesium supplement in your plant’s fertilizer.

Related: How Long Does Marijuana Stay in Your System and How to Get It Out Faster

How to Prevent Deficiencies

Educating yourself on the best marijuana growing practices is the best place to start. This includes making sure the plant gets the exact nutrients needed in the soil. Thankfully, a Pot for Pot has made this portion easy by providing nutrient-rich soil that is perfect for growing healthy marijuana plants in their Complete Kit.

You’ll also want to consider these variables as a way of preventing marijuana leaf problems:


When a marijuana leaf is overwatered, it grows droopy, hard, and loops downward towards the stem. Once it gets to this point, the leaves are very deprived of oxygen. This means it’s time to water your plant less so it can regain its strength.

Another option is to increase the light, temperature, and airflow when growing indoors. This will help your plant absorb water faster.

Light Burn

Light burn can cause severe damage to your marijuana leaves. You will know the leaves are getting too much light when they start curling up.

Yellow and brown burn spots will appear on the leaves from too much exposure to any form of light. You can help your plant recover by reducing the amount of light and providing better air circulation.


beautiful multicolored cannabis leaves

Enjoy Your Marijuana Leaves

There are a multitude of ways to make the most of your marijuana leaves. If you really appreciate weed and want to get creative, you may feel inspired to explore marijuana leaf clipart. You can make some creative leaf art or download digital versions to show off your creativity and demonstrate cannabis’s meaning in your life.

Many growers like to incorporate marijuana leaves in their diet through juicing, edibles, making a tincture, and of course, smoking it. Taking fresh cannabis leaves and juicing them with fruits and veggies like beets, spinach, apples, and carrots can be a healthy way to get the greatest medicinal benefits out of your marijuana leaf.

Marijuana leaves on their own won’t get you high – especially if you consume them raw; however, they are ideal for edibles when combined with flowers. The combination helps create a good balance of cannabinoids.  Keep in mind, the effect of edibles can sneak up on you.  

Leaf marijuana also contains useful trichomes. Use a grinder with a kief catch to grate the leaves for harvesting trichomes. This can be added to a smoothie or sprinkled onto your joint before you seal it up.

There are endless ways to enjoy and make good use of your marijuana leaf. Get creative and have fun with it.


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Growing healthy marijuana plants leads to high quality, potent weed, and the leaves help you know you’re doing it right.  a Pot for Pot will provide everything that you need to start the process correctly, but it’s up to you to provide the love. Remember, take care of your marijuana leaf, and it will take care of you.

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