Swollen Calyx or Hermie: How To Tell

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. more info

If you are growing your own marijuana plants, you are going to want to know about swollen calyxes, as well as hermaphrodite plants. The fact of the matter is that telling the difference between a swollen calyx or hermie can be difficult.

That said, you do need to know the difference, because a marijuana plant with the former is fine, but a plant that is the latter, is not.

Now, in terms of telling the difference between a swollen calyx and a hermie, there are a few things to look out for. As you will see, the issue is that hermie plants have pollen sacks. However, both hermie and female plants will grow calyxes. These calyxes will also grow around those pollen sacks.

One of the only ways to tell the difference is by squeezing the growth to see what it feels like. You may also be able to tell if there are many seeds growing in your buds. A hermie plant will have many seeds in the buds, whereas a plant with swollen calyxes does not.

Swollen Calyx or Hermie


What Are Calyxes?

The first thing that we need to do here is to figure out what exactly a calyx on a marijuana plant is. First and foremost, the calyx is the first part of your marijuana plant that forms before a flower appears.

Calyxes will generally form in the first few weeks of the flowering phase of your marijuana plant. With that being said, an important note to keep in mind is that for calyxes to appear on your marijuana plant, it has to be able to flower.

This therefore means that on marijuana plants, these calyxes only appear on female plants. On the other hand, because male marijuana plants do not flower, they also don’t develop any of these calyxes.

For those of you who don’t know, a calyx is kind of like a small platform that is made up out of sepals, or in other words tiny little leaves that are arranged a Fibonacci spiral pattern. These calyxes act as protection for the main flower.

To be specific, those tiny leaves called sepals protect the reproductive organs of the marijuana plants, as well as the pistols and trichomes. These calyxes also help to provide your marijuana plant with more support and stability for the increasing weight it gains as it flowers.

The fact that these calyxes help to protect the tritones and pistols is very important. For one, the pistils are the long hairs on your marijuana plants where the pollen from a male plant sticks to in order to pollinate and to create seeds.

In order to prevent a plant from becoming a male or from turning hermaphroditic, pollen cannot come into contact with those stigmas or pistils.

Moreover, protecting the trichomes of your marijuana plant is also extremely important. These trichomes produce what is known as the resin or the oils of your marijuana plant.

These oils are what contain the THC and CBD that you want when consuming marijuana. The bottom line is that the vast majority of cannabinoids, whether CBD, THC, or CBG, are produced within those calyxes.

Now, when your marijuana plant has produced as much of these resins as it can, these calyxes will start to swell.

Moreover, the pistils, the trichomes, and the calyxes are what form the marijuana flower or bud that you then harvest, dry, and cure.

The fact of the matter is that if you harvest a marijuana plant before these calyxes are swollen, then your buds will not have the potency that you want.

hermie plant

Signs Of a Swollen Calyx

OK, so now you know what a calyx is and what it looks like in its basic form. However, you also need to be able to identify what a swollen calyx looks like.

Keep in mind that of course knowing what a swollen calyx looks like is quite important, especially when it is time to harvest your plant.

One of the most obvious signs of a swollen calyx is when it is much larger and thicker than it was before it swelled.

You might also notice that the calyx appears to be a lot harder or more solid. At the same time, you might notice that it looks like it has seeds, when in fact it does not.

Keep in mind that a swollen calyx, although larger, is not going to have seeds.

Next, if your weed plant has a swollen calyx, then the flowers are going to take on a much more crystalline structure.

In other words, they’re going to have a lot of crystals on them. This is the THC and that resin developing.

This is not something that you will see in a hermaphrodite plant, because they generally don’t create many flowers or have a lot of THC.

The other thing that you will be able to see as the flowering phase progresses, if you have swollen calyxes, is that there will be small tufts of white pistils that sprout from the various tips of those galaxies.

Marijuana Buds

What Are Hermaphrodite Plants?

In order to be able to tell the difference between the two, you now also need to know what a hermaphrodite marijuana plant is and what it looks like.

So, first and foremost, hermaphrodite marijuana plant is one that contains genetic elements of both the male and female side of things.

This is not unlike with animals, or even humans, that may be part male and part female.

Yes, of course you need a female weed plant to get those strong flowers and buds. However, when a plant is a hermaphrodite, it’s also going to have those seeds and pollen sacs.

Of course, you cannot smoke seeds, and the weed that is produced by hermaphrodite plants is not going to be very potent at all.

It’s barely going to contain any cannabinoids. It might look more or less like a normal female weed plant, but it’s not going to affect you when you smoke or consume it.

A hermaphrodite weed plant is part male and part female, without all of the good stuff that usually comes with a female plant.

How Do You Tell If Your Plant Is A Hermaphrodite?


Now that you know what the hermaphrodite weed plant is, you need to be able to tell if you have one.

Marijuana plants will turn into hermaphrodites so that they can pollinate themselves. This allows the plant to reproduce its own seeds no matter what the case. This is the case even if there are no male marijuana plants around.

The issue that identifying a hermie plant is easier said than done. One way to tell is if your plant has both female and male components.

Here, you should see that your plant is growing both the female pistils that contain all of that THC, and it should also be growing fully formed male pollen sacks.

If you see that your plant has both those little white hairs and male pollen sacks, then it is certainly a hermaphrodite.

The issue here is that if and when those pollen sacks open up, they will pollinate the pistils on the female parts of the plant.

This will therefore cause your weed plant to stop focusing on making new buds.

Rather, it will begin to focus on making new seeds, which brings us to the next point, seeds. A real female marijuana plant is not going to create seeds.

That is the job of the male plant. However, if you see that your plant has flowers or buds, along with those white pistils, but is also developing seeds, and plenty of them, then you likely have a hermie plant.

Another way to tell if you potentially have a hermie is if you see any stamens growing out of the buds, also known simply as bananas or nanners.

These stamens usually grow inside the pollen sac of a male plant. However, if they appear to be growing in what looks like the bud of a female plant, then you probably have a hermie.

Moreover, these stamens don’t even need to open up to pollinate the rest of the plants. Finally, plants that have been hermaphrodites for a long time, will continue producing more seeds, but their buds usually won’t get much larger or more numerous.

These hermie plants will also have a much weaker scent or aroma that fully flowering female plants, and usually far less white crystals on them too.

Common Causes For A Hermaphrodite Plant?

The number one reason why at female weed plant turns into a hermie is due to stress.

There are of course many different factors that can create enough stress to turn a female weed plant into a hermaphrodite.

These include the following.

  • If your weed plants get an erratic light schedule, this could very well be the cause, especially during the flowering stage. If you keep switching up the light schedule and providing your plants with different amounts of light per day, it may very well cause a hermie to happen.
  • Another type of stress that can cause a hermaphrodite to occur is temperature stress. Extremely high temperatures, as well as low temperatures to a certain degree, may stress a plant and turn it into a hermaphrodite. This is also the case with excessive humidity.
  • If your plans are constantly jarred around, and this can also cause this matter to occur. For instance, if you bang the pots of your weed plants too much, move them too roughly, or even have a really strong wind on them, these can all be causes of hermaphroditism.
  • If you water or feed your plants erratically, excessively, or insufficiently, these may all be causes of hermaphroditism.
  • If you damage the roots or the branches of your plants, they may very well also turn into hermaphrodites.
  • Any other type of stress, such as chemical stress from fungicides or pesticides, as well as diseases or pests, as well as pruning or staking during the flowering stage, can also all be causes of hermaphroditism.
  • The other cause here is if you harvest your plants too late. If you harvest your plants too late, it will think that it has no chance of survival, and will therefore turn into a hermaphrodite so it can reproduce.

Tips To Prevent Your Weed Plants Becoming A Hermie


Let’s go over some really important tips to ensure that your weed plant does not become a hermaphrodite.

  • Be sure to always keep your growth space very clean and sanitized.
  • Providing your plants with the proper temperature level, as well as constant temperatures, is essential.
  • You also want to ensure that your marijuana plants are grown in the right humidity levels, and that the humidity level does not alter too much.
  • You also want to ensure that your growth space has great ventilation. You want there to be good air circulation. This will also help prevent pests, mold, and disease from taking hold.
  • Make sure that your indoor grow space is not exposed to the outdoor elements, especially in terms of pests.
  • Always make sure that your weed plants are getting the proper amount of light, have a solid light schedule, and that it’s consistent.
  • Consistency with lighting is extremely important when it comes to preventing your plant from becoming a hermaphrodite.
  • If you see that your plant has any kind of fungal, mold, mildew, or pest infestation, you need to take care of it right away to prevent stress from occurring.
  • Always make sure that the soil and the water are pH balanced for the proper pH level. Moreover, ensure that you never over or underfeed, or over or underwater your plants.

Pollen Sac vs Swollen Calyx

Perhaps the biggest issue here is being able to tell the difference between a pollen sac and a swollen calyx. The best way to tell is by actually squeezing it.

A swollen calyx is going to feel fairly solid, kind of like a small rock or a marble. On the other hand, a pollen sac is going to feel mostly hollow.

It may feel like a small blown-up balloon, and it’s going to have some give to it. A pollen sac may also release some sort of liquid. Other than that, based on appearance and feel alone, it’s quite hard to tell the difference.

That said, a telltale sign that you have a hermie, or in other words that your plant has pollen sacks, is of course if you see seeds starting to grow.

If you notice that the buds on your plant are not growing, and not increasing in number, but instead seem to be growing seeds, then those small growths that you see are indeed pollen sacs and not swollen calyxes.


There you have it folks, everything that you need to know about hermaphrodite weed plants and swollen calyxes.

You should now be able to tell the difference between the two.


My passion for the sticky icky started nearly a decade ago, and it all began when I first laid my eyes on the beauty that is the marijuana plant.

I cover all aspects of growing from equipment recommendations to plant health/care tips to help both new and experienced growers.