Nico’s Nuggets: Hermaphroditism, Genotypes & Phenotypes

Hey there Nico, I have a question about hermaphrodites. I am flowering some special seeds that I acquired and I’m trying to find out their gender. While in flower stage, I noticed one plant having two male parts mixed in with the most beautiful flower I have seen. My question is, will the clones taken from this plant with the male parts turn out to be a hermaphrodite as well?  Thanks for the great advice in your column. – Medical grower via

Greetings to you my grower friend and thanks for the kind words and writing in!

As you stated, when germinating regular (non-feminized) cannabis seeds, the first important step to take is determining the sex of the seedlings as early as possible. Unless you are looking for a male for breeding purposes, most growers want to cull the males immediately to ensure that their female flowers remain unpollinated and, more importantly, unseeded.

Sometimes, however, cannabis plants exhibit weird traits. Even in the early vegetative or pre-flowering stages they can give mixed signals, though these signs most typically manifest once flowering is triggered. These plants are generally referred to as hermaphrodites – plants that exhibit both male and female genders.

Cloning is a sure way to replicate genetic traits.

Your question, as to whether or not such traits will be passed from parent to offspring, particularly via cloning, is a good one because there are two aspects to consider: The passing of hereditary traits via genotype versus the exhibition of traits due to phenotype. You might ask what the difference is?

If a specific strain has the genetic markers for hermaphroditic morphology – and those gene sets are identified as a dominant trait – then most certainly this characteristic is going to be passed to the offspring regardless if the offspring is a clone or the progeny of a cross (in seed form). This outcome is representative of the plant genotype.

Now, sometimes hermaphroditic traits manifest themselves due to environmental stresses. This still means that somewhere in the strain’s genetic code there are markers for hermaphroditism, however these markers may be recessive (or heterozygous) and will not show unless triggered by some negative event in the plant’s lifecycle.  This also means that this trait will not necessarily show in offspring (seed or clone) unless the same conditions are present to trigger the stress reaction. A great way to conceptualize genotype vs. phenotype is: Phenotype = Genotype + Environment.

So it is very hard to tell sometimes, without genetic testing, whether a parent is going to pass hermaphroditism to its offspring. The probably that it will – especially in a cloning format – is very high. However, if you were to take clones of that hermaphrodite and move them into a completely new and different grow environment, then there is a chance this characteristic will not manifest itself assuming this is a recessive trait (which is likely these days due to the fact that most breeders would not breed for – or sell seeds that contain – dominant hermaphroditic genes.

Thanks for reading everyone and remember: Grow… And help the world grow, too!

Got questions? Email ‘em over to Nico at and be sure to put “Nico’s Nuggets” in the subject line!

Follow Nico on Social Media: @Nico_Escondido (Twitter) & @Nico_High_Times (Instagram)

Top photo: Hermaphrodites can pollinate themselves and create seeded buds.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts
Dry Farming
Read More

Dry Farming in Humboldt

A small region along the Eel River in Humboldt County allows cultivators to grow cannabis without ever watering their plants.
Read More

Growing for Terpenes

Increasing terpene production can result in a more flavorful, enjoyable smoke.