Young cannabis plants display opposite phyllotaxy, with alternate phyllotaxy becoming evident as the plant nears sexual maturity. Whorled phyllotaxy is a relatively common cannabis mutation, and causes three or more leaves to grow from each node rather than the usual two. Along with the extra leaf or leaves, an extra branch is also generated at each node, meaning that plants with whorled phyllotaxy often grow extra bushy!
All the genetic information needed to make a plant is found in its DNA. DNA is a helical molecule, composed of two spiral strands that are connected by ‘rungs’ called base pairs. A single DNA molecule, or chromosome, contains hundreds of individual genes, each of which is made up of thousands of base pairs. Mutations arise when a plant’s DNA is altered.
The unusual leaf shape is associated with improved hardiness and cold tolerance, making it well adapted to its territorial range in southern New South Wales and Victoria, both of which are among the cooler parts of Australia.
Arguably one of the most beautiful spontaneous mutations to occur in any plant, variegation occurs when some of the genes that control production of chlorophyll and other pigments do not express correctly, causing distinctive patterns of pigmented and non-pigmented sections on leaves and buds.
The creeper phenotype is a strange mutation that is generally found in tropical strains, which often grow extremely large, in very humid conditions. Rather than focussing their energy on producing a large central cola, some of these tropical strains grow such large and heavy lower branches that they can bow down to touch the ground. At that point, the branches continue to grow along the ground. In common with many other plants, it may even form new root sites where the underside of the stem touches the ground!
Variegation is pretty, but is generally considered useless or even detrimental, as it reduces the plant’s capacity to photosynthesize and thus comprises its ability to achieve maximum health and yield.
Although two seedlings are more common, some three-seedling polyembryonic seeds have also been observed. However, while this is an interesting mutation, it does not confer much advantage to the breeder, and apparently no effort has been made to develop a true-breeding polyembryonic strain.
There are two types of DNA mutations, gene mutations and chromosome mutations. In a gene mutation, the order of bases on a strand of DNA is changed. A chromosome mutation may take several forms: the order of the genes on the chromosome can change; genes can be duplicated or deleted; and genes can even break off of one chromosome and join onto another. The number of chromosomes can also increase in a mutation known as polyploidity (discussed in more detail below).
Another common mutation found in cannabis is polyembryonic seeds. Polyembryonic seeds contain more one seedling, and when germinated, will surprise their owners by putting out two taproots instead of one.
When cannabis genes mutate, the results can be staggering! All about variegated leaves, buds that grow from leaves, stalks that grow like vines, and more…