Description: Erect annual herbs, dioecious.
Leaves opposite on lower stem, mostly alternate above; palmately compound; stipules free. Male flowers in narrow panicles; female in short leafy erect spikes.
Fruit an achene.
Distribution and occurrence: World: 1 species, Eurasia. Australia: 1 species (naturalized).
This genus is usually considered to be monotypic with one highly variable species that has diversified under cultivation over a long period of time. However, some botanists maintain that at least 3 distinct species should be recognized. The inner fibrous bark is very tough and in some countries is cultivated for fibre (hemp) for making ropes. The seeds are fed to birds and are a source of oil, used as a substitute for linseed oil in the paint and varnish industry. The species is also widely cultivated for the drug produced in glands on the leaves and floral bracts. It is a declared, prohibited plant in N.S.W.
Text by G. J. Harden
|One species in NSW: Cannabis sativa|