Seed-bearing buds are the bane of existence for every cannabis grower whose main ingestion method is smoking. Smoking seedy-weedy is far from desirable. And if the seeds are old and dry, smoking them can be dangerous since they can ignite, sending sparks onto your lap. A decade ago, I celebrated finding seeds in my weed. But now, it’s so common that even I find them in my homegrown and cannot figure out why. My girls live a very chill life, so the ‘why’ in this situation and the term sinsemilla intrigue me.
What is Sinsemilla? Sinsemilla is Spanish for “without seed.” Remember “sin” means without and “semilla” means seed. This is how you want to keep your female cannabis plants — a task that is not easy. We’ve known forever that cannabis is dioecious with both male and female plants. However, today some say that cannabis is a trioecious plant, adding to the mix the hermaphrodite, a marvel of botanical determination and perseverance.
The truth is that seed-bearing plants are all too common in today’s dried and cured herb. According to one Canadian Cannabis reviewer, blogger, and amateur photographer and the flowers he’d been reviewing at the time this piece was started, 40 percent of the samples were definitely not seedless buds. Seeds in your weed can also result in less potent marijuana as energy would have been spent creating the semilla versus creating a high THC level. Why is this happening? Is it unhoned cultivation practices, unstable genetics, or is the plant herself developing different instincts based on years of being forced to get all dressed up with no place to go?! Let’s discuss.
Reason #1: Unhoned Cultivation Practices
User error resulting in cross-contamination is why food manufacturers routinely have recalls. But limited cultivation experience is possibly the cause for the seeds we’re all picking out of our supposedly seedless cannabis flowers. The Cannabaceae plant’s trioecious nature requires skills not commonly found in other cultivation industries. The skill level needed to create high-quality buds on a continuous rotational basis less than common. That pesky photosensitivity that sinsemilla demands is foreign to many gardeners. Some growers think that the effect of starlight or moonlight on marijuana plants grown outdoors is comparable to that of indoor security lights. Because of their vast distance away, the moon and stars don’t trigger photosynthesis. The flowering stage requires full darkness and the smallest light leak or security light will confuse and thus stress the plants resulting in hermaphroditism. Light and the control thereof is everything to the photo-sensitive cannabis plant.
In addition, industrialization and mass production have always had to deal with microorganism problems, and large scale cannabis production is no exception. Moreover, it’s been the failed attempts at rectifying issues with mold and other pests that have been more detrimental to brand loyalty. I truly believe a balance must be found when growing indoors, a balance that replicates that found in nature — even with hydroponic techniques! To mitigate this risk, industry attempts to sterilize and preemptively kill all organisms — even the beneficial ones. We’re seeing the outcome of this in the medical industry with MRSA, a bacterium resistant to all antibiotics. But something else is occurring as well.
The walls of indoor cultivation facilities are being painted with antimicrobial paint, much of which contains a silver ion additive. Did you know that Colloidal silver is used by some as a natural antiviral? It’s also being used by growers to induce a change that sees a female plant grow male flowers with viable pollen. Self-seeding follows. Could the antimicrobial paint itself be exuding silver ions making the very air that sways their leaves trigger the production of seeds?
Reason #2: Stress Seeds For Sale!
Professionally bred seeds are expensive, but from necessity comes brilliance. It didn’t take long for us to figure out how to make the plant seed itself. As alluded to above, if you spray Colloidal Silver on the branch of an early flowering plant everyday for about two weeks you will change the hormones in those flowers to male. The plant will then subsequently pollinate herself. Every one of these seeds now has the choice to be male, female, or hermaphroditic. While with correctly bred seeds, hermies are mutations and freaky botanical errors. In discussing this, fellow writer, grower, and friend Lisa MamaKind Kirkman worded it perfectly: “whenever an hermaphroditic plant is allowed to grow, it sends the message that it’s acceptable when in reality it’s a mutation.” Yet, hermie seeds are being gifted, sold, and grown all over the world right now as “bag seeds” flooding the streets with this unstoppable mutation. By the way, I recently Rosin-pressed my own seedy-weedy and it had that gaggy seedy taste. No amount of resins is gonna sweeten a seedy squish!
Reason #3: Proprietary Strains & Weak Genetics?
Stable genetics are valuable commodities these days and many of the well-known cannabis seed breeders have partnered up, locking those genetics down. In an effort to save money, many growers have begun breeding their own “proprietary seeds” which are hybrids of other popular cultivars. Genetic stability of a seed refers to the predictability of each seed’s growth, health, and cannabinoid makeup. Let’s just say that breeding seeds of stable genetics is a very time-consuming task taking several years to get to the stage of being considered stable. Add more years to create stable feminized seeds. In some opinions, two years of producing seeds does not stability make! Unstable genetics can result in unpredictable traits, weaker immunity, and/or mutations such as hermaphroditism.
Reason #4: Are Epigenetic Changes Forcing Hermaphroditism
“Seeds spring from seeds, and beauty breedeth beauty.
By law of nature thou art bound to breed,
That thine may live when thou thyself art dead;
And so in spite of death thou dost survive,
In that thy likeness still is left alive.”
“Venus & Adonis,” Shakespeare
This is where it gets interesting. At the risk of humanizing my plants, I can’t help but feel sorry for them. They work night and day to produce flowers and ooey-gooey trichomes to catch the pollen their mate will produce so they can fulfill this inherent purpose to procreate. Some days I wonder if they look at one another and say, “Did I shave my legs for this?”
This flirty botanical bait and switch has been taking place for decades but has vastly increased recently. I believe that the rising popularity of seed-breeding and hermaphroditic plants is effectively speeding up an already evolving epigenetic code. Anthropologically speaking, isn’t all procreation merely to pass down knowledge for the purpose of evolving the species or cultivar to avoid extinction? Seeds spring from seeds after all. So if this is true, what message do you think fatigued and reproductively-frustrated female cannabis plants are sending to future plants in their epigenetics?
“The male plants aren’t coming! We’ve been abandoned! Seed yourself to save yourself!”
Epigenetics is a rather new field of study that looks at heritable phenotype changes in organisms made by “modifications of gene expression.” In layperson’s terms, epigenetic changes are “memories passed down by the way the genes were used.” The further down this research rabbit hole I went, the further I wanted to go. The sum of my learning? No doubt, every living creature has been affected by this in some way. With life being like a box of chocolates, many of these changes were in reaction to strife and as such, were not good for the species. Here are some profound examples of epigenetics in various organisms. Some even have both psychological and biological epigenetic changes from the same experience.
As discussed in Scientific American, descendants of holocaust survivors have the biological change of lower levels of cortisol, the hormone that helps the brain return to normal after a scare or a trauma. This is in common with patients suffering from PTSD. In addition, there is evidence that they are also more sensitive to stress and are in fact more susceptible to PTSD symptoms.
In this study spanning ten years, researchers tortured hundreds of mice through “early postnatal trauma based on unpredictable maternal separation combined with unpredictable maternal stress.” The results show that changes in these mice are present to the 4th generation! These behavioral changes include depressive-like symptoms, poor impulse control, memory and social issues. They even had biological changes to their insulin/glucose regulation.
In another example of human sadism-in-science, researchers trained roundworms to know where food was located based on the texture of the bottom of the petri dish. Then they cut their heads off, regrew their bodies, and those regrown bodies remembered that the rough-bottomed petri dish indicated that food was near. They even added a diversion tactic of placing the food within a light which worms generally avoid yet they still followed the textured floor. In very stringent studies, the worms whose bodies were taught that the rough-bottom meant food was near traveled much more quickly to that area of the test site regardless of the light. It was believed that only the brain held on to memory. But we acknowledge the existence of muscle memory so why not nervous system memory too?
If this many different familial species have shown to epigenetically alter their offspring’s behaviour in reaction to human actions and interference, then surely it’s possible with plants too. So many hermaphroditic plants being allowed to grow flowers has already had ill effects. This botanical mutation has basically trojan horse’d itself into the botanical species. It’s brilliant and inspiring! Though I strive to keep my own green goddesses kept chill and stress-free, I can still greatly admire the hermaphroditic plant. She waits for no one. There’s a lesson here!
In fact, it can be theorized that the action that pushed Ruderalis to flower in time versus in reaction to darkness is in fact an epigenetic change. It’s how we now have autoflower strains — non-photosensitive cannabis cultivars. Knowing this, is it really so unexpected for that plant to evolve herself again?
Notwithstanding, if human error is what’s causing all the seedy-weedy then we need to stop the bus and educate the masses. Being a product often sold by weight, seeds in your bud or your pre-roll are now a financial issue, not to mention just how gross it is to smoke a seed. We need to make sure that the future plants from the seeds we sow today reflect this as a time of great growth and unity, not unhinged mutations. Evolution of the skills needed for growing quality bud from sinsemilla plants is underway. I see them being practiced indoors and in plants grown outdoors where the amount of resins are even more substantial. The plant herself can only grow so fast. With patience, camaraderie, and experience I believe that humanity can and will soon reclaim the true meaning of quality sinsemilla Cannabis.