What is a Phenotype?


When discussing cannabis phenotypes and what they are,they can be described as the list of traits or characteristics that make up a plant within a given strain.

Just like humans, plants can pick up different traits and genetics than their sisters or brothers. By the end of a growing cycle there may be some similarities, but some may have benefits that are stronger than the others and that is where choosing the best phenotype comes into play.

If you were to take a 5 pack of seeds that were all the same strain and grow them, you would witness different phenotypes’ in action.  It starts with growth structure, sturdiness, leaf pattern, and rate of growth.  As the seedling grows you should notice if it is scraggly or growing strong and sturdy. Other things that might differ are things like color, leaf patterns, and how it reacts to feedings. Even though they have the same parents and come from the same family doesn’t mean they will all grow and be the same at the finish, similar to people, families and siblings.

As the plants grows,  you should see how each may have their own pattern. Some may be bushy, shorter, where some may be taller or sparse.  It can be devastating to choose your favorite phenotype just based on how a plant grows.

I have personally lost a great phenotype of a strain, LSD by Barney Farms, because I didn’t think it was growing well enough, it was a short , sparse, not a very pretty plant compared to the others of the same strain. I didn’t take any clones from that one and at the end, its flowers were the most beautiful, most effective and everything I was looking for in a medicine, but I lost that phenotype by judging it too soon. In dealing with phenotypes, patience is a must needed practice because the picking isn’t over until the end.

During the flowering process, you would be looking for calyx spacing on the flowers. Is the plant still really leafy? Are the flowers dense or airy? Does the plant produce a little or a lot of cannabis? Does the plant produce lots of trichomes or barely any at all? Is it sticky? How about the differences in aroma? Which one is appealing to you? How long is each one taking to finish? Is one finishing before the others? Is there a straggler?  Over all, how does each one resemble and contrast each other?

During harvesting you can look for the time it takes to cure and the time used in trimming your flowers down. Are they easy to work with? How sticky are they now? What is the aroma? Are your buds dense? Which ones look the best?

Now the taste tasting comes. This is where you get to determine what works for you individually. How does the flower burn? How does it taste? How does each one make you feel? What are the desired effects you are looking for? What effects would you like to avoid? Which plant answers yes to most of your needs?  That plant would be your chosen phenotype of that particular strain.

From seed to your bow, it’s all about watching phenotypes develop and being able to determine what works for you in the end. What one person may think is the best phenotype for them, may not be what works for the next. Differences in phenotypes are part of the reason you can smoke the same strain from many people and get a different flavor, look or smell from each one.

Each one of these traits that you are looking for will be the list of characteristics that make up that particular plants phenotype within its strain. Its sounds difficult, but it really leaves you with more options than you could ever imagine. Cannabis gives a wide range of phenotypes to pick and choose from which helps make it one of the most versatile medicinal plants to grow because there will be a type for you too.


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