What Plants Are Close Relatives of Marijuana?

Written by michaelyn erickson
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What Plants Are Close Relatives of Marijuana?
Marijuana is a member of the Cannabaceae family of flowering plants. (John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Marijuana (Cannabis sativa) is a member of the Cannabaceae family and the Cannabis genera, which also contains its most closely related species, hemp. The Cannabaceae family is a small family with a total of 11 genera. There are hundreds of subspecies within each genera. Humulus and Celtis are two other genera of Cannabaceae containing plants of economic interest.

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Hemp

Despite common misconception, hemp and marijuana come from two different varieties of Cannabis sativa. Though the industrial hemp plant does contain low levels of DELTA9-tetrahydrocannabino, the psychedelic substance in marijuana, the levels are so significantly less that they would not cause any reaction in humans. Hemp is one of the most commercially important plants closely related to marijuana. Hemp is used to make textiles, soaps, oils, food products, paper and sustainable fuel.

Hops

The hops plant is a member of the Cannabaceae plant family and part of the Humulus genera. Hops are another extremely important commercial plant used in beer making. They are non-woody, perennial vines native to temperate climates around the world. The flower clusters of the hops plant are used in beer brewing. They contain bitter resins and essential oils that create the flavour of beer.

What Plants Are Close Relatives of Marijuana?
Flower clusters from a hops plant are used in beermaking. (Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Hackberry

Hackberry is a wood similar to elm used to make furniture. Hackberry includes several species within the genus Celtis, a part of the Cannabaceae family. Hackberry species are found both in temperate and tropical zones. They produce black edible fruits popular with birds in both climates, though the tropical varieties' fruits are larger. Northern hackberry is often planted along roadsides as a street tree.

Trema Orientalis

This small tree is also known as an Indian charcoal tree or trema. It is an evergreen or deciduous shrub, depending on the variety and environment. Trema grows to heights of 8 meters and is a native species of Asia and South Africa. It produces small white and green flowers followed by small fruits that turn black as they ripen. The leaves and fruit of this plant are edible. It is easily established on poor soils as a stabiliser, though trema can become invasive in some climates.

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