Cannabis (Cannabis sativa L.), which has been the subject of much debate in recent days, is a versatile plant that benefits from both its fibers and stems, its seeds, and its leaves and flowers. Cannabis is a cultivated plant known in Asia and Europe for a long time. Its history goes back to 5000 BC. It can be said that no plant has had as much impact as hemp in the cultural history of mankind. Let’s take a look at the characteristics of this miracle plant.
The cannabis plant is an annual plant genus belonging to the Cannabaceae family. Its homeland is Central Asia. The wild ones are still found around the Altai mountains. The distribution of wild forms has increased in the Euroasia region from Hungary to Siberia. It is grown and cultivated in temperate and tropical regions. It is a hard, bushy, hollow stem, palmate-leaved, dioecious and annual. It reaches 1-3 meters in height, rises vertically. The leaves are opposite, crisscross with the next, with 5-11 segments, the parts are lanceolate, the edges are toothed, dark green colored long stalks. The flowers are dioecious, that is, the male and female flowers are on the top of the plants separately.
The female flowers of cannabis are quite often covered with leaves, and the flowers are resinous. Male flowers are also in the form of sparse clusters. Its seeds can be 3-6 mm long, 2-4 mm wide, grayish-brown, blackish-brown, greenish-brown, and have a very thin shell.
While hemp used to have an important place among fiber crops, there was a significant decrease in cultivation areas after World War II. With the introduction of synthetic fibers, hemp lost its former importance. In addition, the production of cannabis from cannabis has also led to the limitation and control of cultivation areas. On the other hand, the substitution of jute, abaca, and sisal fibers for hemp fibers has been effective in reducing hemp cultivation areas.
Morphology and Anatomy of Cannabis Plant
Cannabis sativa L is a plant species with a thin, loosely branching structure and can reach up to 6 meters in length. However, Cannabis Indica can reach a length between 90 cm-2.5 meters, and Cannabis Ruderalis 60 cm-1 meter in length. One of the best ways to distinguish these three species from each other is to examine the shape of the stem and branching. Cannabis indica has pyramidal branching, while Cannabis Ruderalis is sparsely branched. Cannabis is studied under five different headings:
- Stem and branches
The root structure is expressed as a pile root system. Pile roots can go to a depth of 3-4 meters under suitable moisture and soil conditions. The root system is networked. If the soil is insufficient in terms of cannabis production, the main root cannot grow sufficiently, and the lateral roots develop more than normal. The taproot can go as deep as 4 meters. Side roots emerge about 20 cm below the soil and over the pile roots.
The size of the cannabis stems may vary depending on the productivity of the environment and the rainfall it receives. At the same time, the gender difference is also important in terms of height. The diameter of the stem, which is hard and herbaceous, can vary between 4-20 mm, and its length can reach a length of 1-6 meters. However, the height in male cannabis is greater than that of females. Cannabis stalks become woody as they age, regardless of gender.
The cannabis plant has a hard and woody stem. Plant height varies between 0.3-6 m. In the cannabis plant, the stem is knotty, and leaves emerge from these knots. Branching occurs from the ends of the stem, as in flax. The highest quality fibers in hemp are obtained from the part called technical stem length. In general, the best stem thickness in terms of fiber quality is 0.5-2 cm. The stem of female cannabis is thicker than that of male cannabis. Numerous fiber cells in the stem of hemp combine to form fiber beams.
The cross-section of the stem is round in the hypocotyl part, four above it, and hexagonal above it. While some of the stems are woody, some of them contain sap. The middle of the handle is completely empty. The cannabis stem is formed from the nodes and internodes. The internodes are shorter in short cannabis. The internodes are shorter in the upper and lower parts of the stem when viewed as a whole. The longest internodes are found in the middle parts.
Cannabis leaves are segmented. It has a compound leaf structure consisting of 3-11 pieces at the end of a long stem. The leaves emerge from the nodes on the stem. The middle one of the leaflets is long and the edges of each are toothed. The leaves are opposite each other, and from the end of the technical stem, they are arranged alternately on the stem.
In male cannabis, the flowers on the panicle stem coming out of the leaf axils at the top of the stem are arranged opposite each other. In female plants, the female flowers are in a cluster in the leaf axils at the top of the stem. The flowers are whitish-green in color. 100% foreign pollination is seen in the cannabis plant. A fruit and a seed are formed from each flower.
Cannabis seeds are egg-shaped, hard, and greenish in color. The thousand-grain weight of the seeds varies between 12-30 gr. Hemp seed contains 30-32% oil, 22-23% protein, and 21% carbohydrates. Its seed is one of the birds’ favorite foods. The seeds, which are quite oily, are used to make fuel, soap, and paint. It is also used as food in terms of being nutritious.
Hemp fiber cells are defined as polygonal. The fiber cells in hemp are in the form of beams in the bark of the stem. While the number of fiber cells decreases in the hypocotyl part of the stem, it becomes thinner towards the tip. Primary fiber cells increase from the fourth node to the eighth node. Likewise, as you go up from the fourth node to the eighth node, a decrease in the number of cells and beams is observed.
The formation phase of the fibers in the shell is examined in three parts. The spindle-shaped fiber cells come together and form fiber beams by adhering to pectin. The first fibers formed are longer than the other fibers. However, the fiber yield is high in female cannabis and the fiber quality is high in male cannabis.
It demonstrates its suitability for organic agriculture production aiming to protect the soil and the environment, due to reasons such as the lack of high water consumption in the production of hemp fibers and the ability to grow without the need for fertilizers and pesticides. In addition, since hemp is a crop suitable for crop rotation, it destroys weeds and leaves a rich soil structure for the next crop.
The cannabis fruit is a greenish-brown nut (achene). The seed in the walnut is endospermic and the embryo is curled up in the fruit. Because it contains a single seed and its shell is hard and unbreakable, the walnut is used as a seed in the cultivation of cannabis and is practically called cannabis seed. This seed contains 30-32% oil, 22% protein, 35% carbohydrates, 1.5-2% sugar, and 5-6% ash. In cannabis, the leaves of the female plant around the seed and the flowering tops of the female and male species contain psychoactive substances.
Cannabis leaves are densely present in the inflorescences of females, while flowers are less abundant in male plants. Marijuana leaves are technically opposite in length; on top of that, they take place alternately. Cannabis is generally described as a dioecious plant. However, monoic species of the cannabis plant are also found. The number of flowers varies depending on gender. The number of flowers is higher in female plants. The flowers of the male plants are yellowish-green, while the flowers of the females are mostly green.
In the female plant, the bract leaves are united, passing over the perianth and wrapping the flower. Perianth leaves form a cup-like sheath around the ovary without cutting. The female organ, which has a single-chambered ovary, has two large stigmas extending upwards between the protective leaves. Stigmas are suitable for fertilization. In male flowers, there are 3 bract leaves on the outside, 5 perianth remnants inside these leaves, thin filaments inside the perianth remnants, white round antennae, and five male stamens. Stamens hang from the perianth leaves.
Quality Characteristics of Cannabis Plant
The cannabis plant is a plant species classified in the genus Cannabis in the family Cannabacae. The cannabis plant is divided into three types. The use of a species called Cannabis sativa L. is most common. It is a dicotyledonous herbaceous plant with an annual lifespan. Cannabis reproduces sexually and is divided into two as male and female. When planting cannabis in the field, planting cannot be done by determining the gender.
Planted seeds usually grow as 30-35% male and 65-70% female plants. Male plants die soon after completing pollination. For this reason, it is necessary to produce seeds from cannabis grown for grain. The main growing area of the cannabis plant is the region covering Central Asia and India. Today, hemp cultivation is carried out in all regions with the right climatic conditions. Although the cannabis plant has gained its popularity as a recreational substance, it can be used in many areas from health to weaving today.
The cultivation and use of cannabis (hemp) date back to 8000 BC. In Mesopotamia, Central Asia, and China, hemp was grown and used as a medicinal plant in the field of health. In the following periods, cannabis consumption became widespread; It was also used for fabric, thread, food, and medicine.
The oldest piece of paper found as a result of archaeological excavations is hemp parchment produced in China. This plant was considered one of the most important agricultural products until the 19th century. During this period, many well-known books, including Wonderland and Alice, were printed on hemp paper. There are certain characteristics to understand the quality of hemp. Some of those features are:
- Quality hemp should not have mold on it. The mold is white and grayish on the grass. Before buying cannabis grass, it must be checked and it must be ensured that there is no mold.
- The smell of cannabis indicates whether the hemp is stale. While fresh cannabis emits a nice smell, this is not the case with stale hemp.
- If the leaves appear wilted or discolored, the marijuana is very likely to be stale. Colorful and vibrantly colored cannabis is always fresher and of higher quality.
- Female cannabis is used extensively in cannabis. The reason for this is that female cannabis branches more and form leaves.
- Regular rainfall and a humid environment are required to increase the quality of fiber production in the cannabis plant. High temperatures and drought accelerate the ripening of cannabis, resulting in a decline in quality. When marijuana is grown solely for fiber production, the male plants should be harvested together with the female plants when they mature. In this method, where the fiber yield is low but the quality is high, it is more appropriate to bundle and pool the male and female plants separately in terms of fiber uniformity.
- The crystal density, that is, the trichome density, provides a beautiful image with its bright appearance and plays a major role in understanding its quality. Trachoma is very important for the preservation of essential oils and cannabinoids.
Herbal Properties of Cannabis Plant
Cannabis, a short-day plant, is an annual, herbaceous plant with a diploid (2n) chromosome number of 20. Plant height varies between 50-300 cm depending on the variety and growing conditions. The root system of cannabis is a pile, and at the end of maturation, the roots can go 1-5 m deep. Cannabis seedlings have two sessile cotyledon leaves; all subsequent true leaves have a stem.
Both leaves of the first true leaf pair have serrated edges. A leaf from the second pair of true leaves contains three serrated leaflets radiating from the tip of the petiole. The body of the plant is corrugated in various degrees and is hollow inside. Depending on the plant density, the stems are almost unbranched at high plant density.
Cannabis is a dioecious plant and is usually wind-pollinated. Flowering is accelerated on short days and delayed on long days. There are also monoic varieties of cannabis, which are usually dioecious. In cannabis, sex cannot be distinguished morphologically before flowering. The first sign of the transition to flowering is the formation of undifferentiated flower outlines. Males are identified by the separation of rounded pointed flower buds, which have five radial segments.
Females, on the other hand, are recognized by their symmetric tubular bract or sepal enlargement. A dioecious plant usually has equal numbers of male and female plants, but depending on the variety and growing conditions, there may be 50% more female plants than male plants. The inflorescences of male plants are strongly branched, with few or no leaves. The inflorescences of female plants are leafy, short, and unbranched. Male plant flowers die soon after flowering, while female plant flowers continue their life until the seeds mature.
The female flower has a small green sheath-like stamen that completely covers the ovary from which the two stigmas protrude. This sheath is covered with annular glands that are covered with fine hairs and secrete cannabinoid-containing resin. The traded seed is a fruit with a skin and contains a single seed. The seed is elliptical, slightly compressed, smooth, 2-6 mm long, 2-4 mm in diameter. Seed color varies from light brown to dark gray. In some cases, the seed may be mottled.
Hemp seeds contain about 35% oil. The fact that the hemp seed has a low profile in terms of saturated fatty acids indicates that the seed has a quality oil content. However, omega-3 (linolenic acid), one of the unsaturated fatty acids necessary for human health, is a very important source of fatty acids. Since the human body cannot produce essential fatty acids, these fatty acids must be taken from outside.
In general, people tend to get too much omega-6 and too little omega-3. Therefore, adding hemp seeds to the diet can help support balance. As a matter of fact, as a result of a study, the use of hemp seeds and hemp seed oil in chicken feed increased the omega-3 level in the egg yolk and provided eggs with a healthier omega-3/omega-6 ratio.
Hemp seeds have 25% protein. This ratio is close to the protein content of soybean. Hemp seeds have all nine essential amino acids that the human body cannot synthesize and must be obtained from the diet. Hemp seeds are especially rich in the amino acid arginine, which has benefits for heart health. Since hemp seeds do not contain gluten, it is a food source that can be used in bread making for people with Celiac disease. In addition, hemp seeds are an important source of vitamins that contain important vitamins.
The cannabis plant contains chemical compounds called Cannabinoids. These naturally occurring components are responsible for producing many of the positive and negative effects of cannabis. Although the content of all cannabinoids has not been determined to date, the content of two main components has been determined. These two compounds are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). These two chemical compounds have the same molecular structure and contain 21 C atoms, 30 H atoms, and 2 O2 atoms. Both compounds interact with cannabinoid receptors found in the human brain. However, a slight difference in the way the atoms are arranged gives rise to different effects. Cannabidiol (CBD) is not psychoactive.
Because of this feature, cannabidiol is more common in natural supplements and diets than tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Also, Cannabidiol is found in both industrial hemp and narcotic hemp. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), on the other hand, is the main psychoactive component of the cannabis plant and is a substance directly related to the narcotic part of the cannabis plant. In terms of the development of cannabis agriculture, breeding studies of cannabis varieties with low tetrahydrocannabinol ratio and superior yield in terms of fiber and seeds are continuing. The upper limit of the tetrahydrocannabinol ratio in industrial-type cannabis is 0.3% for Canada and 0.2% for European Union countries.
Uses of Cannabis Plant
The demand for textile products produced from hemp fibers is increasing day by day due to the increase in ecological concerns in people with the increasing level of awareness. At the same time, the superior performance and usage properties of hemp fibers due to their physical and chemical structures attract the attention of customers in the market. Despite all this, hemp fibers constitute less than 0.5% of the world’s natural fiber production today. Hemp fibers, which are the only plants that can be visually distinguished in nature, are generally used on a sectoral basis in the world. Usage areas are:
- In drug making,
- in papermaking,
- in fuel making (biofuel),
- in fabric making,
- in all textile products,
- in the automotive industry,
- in every field where petroleum and petrochemicals are used,
- in making cosmetics and soap,
- in electricity generation,
- in the construction industry,
- in the feed industry,
- in oil making,
- in asphalt and road construction.
Hemp is an economically privileged valuable crop that represents a resource for a variety of uses and industrial applications. The hemp market includes more than 25 thousand products worldwide. Today, China is the pioneer of hemp paper and textile products. 40% of the world’s hemp needs are met by China. Likewise, Canada is one of the most important producers of cannabis products and accounts for 60-90% of the US hemp import market.
Considering the researches, it is foreseen that the use of hemp has many benefits in terms of sustainability and health, especially in the food sector. The use of cannabis may differ from region to region. For example, hemp in Europe is common in the industrial sense such as automobile and construction sectors.
Although hemp lost its popularity in the previous years, it has started to gain importance again in recent years due to its sustainability and its ability to be produced in line with environmental principles. The cannabis plant is among the medicinal plants that have been good for many diseases from past to present in the field of health. It is known to reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Hemp seeds contain 20-25% protein, 20-30% carbohydrates, 25-35% oil, and 10-15% minerals.
It is used in making high polyunsaturated fats, printer ink, wood preservative, soap, and shampoo. Also, hemp seed oil contains two essential polyunsaturated fatty acids. It has been determined that these two essential polyunsaturated fatty acids, called linoleic and linolenic acid, are present in the most correct ratio for humans. Known for its rapid absorption by the skin, this oil is one of the ideal plants to be used in personal care products such as skin creams and body oils. Hemp seed oil keeps the skin vigorous and moisturizes by reducing the effects of aging on the skin.
One of the most used products in personal care products is hemp soap. Produced by many companies and individual manufacturers, these soaps are also very rich in variety. Hemp soaps are offered for consumption in liquid and stick form. Hemp seed oil is one of the products often used in hair care products. Thanks to this oil, strong hair and shine are provided on the scalp.
It is used in hair masks, hair care oils, shampoos, and care creams. Cannabis can be used in many personal care products as well as lip care creams. Thanks to the ingredients it contains, it repairs lip cracks and gives shine to the lips. Hemp oil is a herbal supplement that can be used in animal feeds, is a rich source of Omega 3 and 6 nutrients, and has multiple fatty acids. It is also used in the diet of animals as a source of seeds, pulp, oil, and protein. According to the researches, the milk yield and quality of the cows that included hemp pulp in their diet increased.
Since the Omega-3- and 6 and amino acids in hemp are not produced by the body, they must be taken from the outside. Cannabis, processed as a seed with or without a shell, is a food that can be used in the daily diet. It provides shine and calmness in the fur of animals. Cats, dogs, cows, horses, birds, and rabbits can consume hemp as a supplement.
While hemp can be a healthy food source for animals, it is also a plant food that provides many benefits when consumed by humans. Hemp seeds are used in the manufacture of many foods. Hemp is actively used in foods such as salad dressing, nutrition bar, bread, cookies, corn chips, pasta, and ice cream.
Due to the fact that hemp seeds are a healthy and protein-rich food, their consumption has increased recently. The hemp nut (shelled seed) consists mainly of oil (typically 45%), protein (35%), and dietary fiber, and other carbohydrates (10% mainly originating from the remains of the shell).
From a sustainability point of view, it reveals its suitability for organic agriculture production aiming to protect the soil and the environment due to the reasons such as the lack of high water consumption in the production of hemp fibers and the ability to be grown without the need for fertilizers and pesticides. In addition, since hemp is a crop suitable for crop rotation, it destroys weeds and leaves a rich soil structure for the next crop.
In the world, industrial hemp fibers are accepted as an interesting sustainable material with different properties such as strength, durability, insulation, acoustic, and resistance to ultraviolet rays. The potential use of hemp fibers in agricultural areas is considered to provide a sustainable solution for the repair of soil slopes and landfill systems. Considering the great need and awareness of the environmental impact, the performance, and recyclability of hemp material, as well as its compatibility with application studies in different disciplines, cause it to have a higher priority in engineering product design recently.
Cars whose bodies are made of hemp are ten times more durable than those made of steel. In the early 20th century, cellulose derived from hemp was made into renewable raw materials for plastics. In the 1930s, Henry Ford developed a car prototype from biological alloys using hemp fibers. These vehicles, which were advertised and whose durability feature was emphasized, could not be put into mass production due to policies.
One of the uses of cannabis is the consumption of cannabis, which is a recreational drug. When cannabis is turned into a recreational drug, it is called marijuana. Although it is legalized within the law in some countries, its production is not legal in many. The fact that cannabis has a place in the medical field has made the legalization of cannabis a global debate in recent years. Marijuana has analgesic effects, alleviating disease symptoms, and positively affecting living standards. One of the countries that have developed itself most in studies on the medical consumption of cannabis is, actually, the United States of America.
Cannabis Sativa (industrial cannabis) contains 120 substances with their main active ingredients and flavoring agents. In cannabis, the leaves around the seeds of the female plant and the flowering tops of the female and male species contain psychoactive substances. The main active ingredients of marijuana are cannabinol, cannabidiol, and tetrahydrocannabinol. Marijuana oil, on the other hand, is a cannabis preparation obtained as a result of the treatment of marijuana or cannabis with organic solvents and its use has increased in recent years.
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