Four Plants That Look Like Weed - Don't Get Scammed!
If you’ve never smoked weed before and are thinking of giving it a try, you might be worried about someone trying to sell you something that isn’t cannabis. You might even think that someone might try to pass off a plant that looks like marijuana plants as something to smoke.
It’s certainly true that scammers do take advantage of noob smokers by selling them sub-par weed, small amounts, or something that isn’t actually cannabis at all. However, it’s very rare that they’ll use a plant that looks like marijuana. For reasons that we’ll get onto later, it just doesn’t make much sense!
That said, there certainly are times when knowledge of plants that look like cannabis comes in useful. In the last section of this article, we talk about times that you might want to steer clear of planting anything similar looking to weed near your house and also the importance of being vigilant when buying clones or cuttings.
Plants that Look Similar to a Marijuana Plant
The leaves of many species of Japanese maple really look a lot like the leaves of WeedRepublic’s favorite psychoactive plant. They have a serrated edge to them, similar to those on marijuana plants. The formation of the leaves is pretty similar too.
Although seeing a single Japanese maple leaf on the ground might make some people suspect there is a cannabis plant growing somewhere nearby, there are plenty of major differences to tell the two plants apart.
One of the biggest differences is the fact that the leaves of many Japanese maples aren’t even green at all. Some species of the plant do indeed have green leaves but these will commonly have red or purplish stems, which is incredibly rare in healthy marijuana plants.
Most Japanese maple leaves also don’t look that much like cannabis leaves. Sure, they both have five “fingers” to them and the leaves have a serrated edge. However, the splits between the fingers always reach the stem itself on a marijuana plant. This is often not the case on a Japanese maple!
You’re also highly unlikely to get scammed by someone selling you Japanese maple in place of cannabis. We really doubt you’ll be loading up a pipe-like the Squirrel Nest pipe from Empire Glassworks with the plant! Only one of the plants actually produces the aromatic, THC-laden buds we all stick in grinders like the amazing Mendocino Mulcher! No prizes for guessing which one either...
Scurry on over to Dankgeek and pick up a new glass pipe. We love this the Squirrel's Nest from Empire Glassworks!
Smoke weed without a pipe until this adorable, handmade glass pipe arrives on your doorstep.
Texas Star Hibiscus
Another plant that you might mistake for cannabis is known as Texas Star Hibiscus. Again, it’s the highly distinctive leaf formation that is most likely to give rise to confusion. The plant has multi-fingered, serrated leaves growing from thin green stems. Again, seeing a single leaf might trick an inexperienced smoker but we highly doubt someone will try to sell you Texas Star Hibiscus as cannabis.
The plant doesn’t smell anything like cannabis and doesn’t produce flowering sites that are similar to those on cannabis plants. Outside of absolute opportunists selling to very naive, first-time smokers (probably underage ones!), we highly doubt anyone will try to pass off Texas Star Hibiscus as Grade A smoke. We find it even more unlikely that anyone would fall for it too!
Some species of the kenaf plant really look like a weed! In fact, the plant’s scientific name even has “canna” in it. In the field of botany, the plant is also known as hibiscus cannabinus.
Kenaf grows naturally in tropical and subtropical climates. It’s found in Asia and Africa mostly. Just like WeedRepublic’s favorite herb, the plant has been used as both a source of food and fiber for centuries too!
The kenaf plant has a star-shaped leaf with seven fingers. The edges are serrated and the veining through them is very much like that seen on cannabis plants too. We reckon of all the plants we’ve covered so far, this one is the most likely to result in neighbor suspicion if you’re growing it on your property!
That said, anyone trying to dupe you into buying some kenaf is going to struggle. It produces rather attractive flowers that don’t stink of high grade. You probably won’t be heating it up in your FOUR vape from Mig Vapor anytime soon!
Again, the main reason for this is the fact that kenaf doesn’t smell anything like cannabis and it doesn’t produce bud sites that look close enough to trick someone who can see the product. For almost every use of cannabis for either recreational or medical purposes, the buds are favored over the leaves.
Unless you’re buying a bin bag full of cannabis leaves to cook with or make smoothies (cannabis is super nutritious!), we doubt you’ll need to worry about kenaf being passed off as weed!
The coral plant is another plant that kind of looks like a weed. Its leaves are also formed in long, serrated fingers. However, there are usually a lot more fingers than you’d find on cannabis plants.
There is another major difference between the leaves of the two plants too. The serration along the margins of the coral plant’s leaves aren’t that similar to those found on a weed leaf. Anyone who’d see a real cannabis plant would immediately recognize the coral plant as being an imposter.
Whilst it might trick an absolute noob during its vegetative growth, any doubt is cast to the side when the coral plant flowers. It produces glorious Fuschia flowers, rather than green, THC-coated buds!
Keep Your Wits About You and You Won't Get Scammed!
True be told, it’s highly unlikely that anyone will try to sell you one of the above plants like cannabis. Although the leaves and other characteristics can look similar, you just don’t load up your Linx Gaia with dried leaves.
That said, the scam that you might have been worried about is a legit one. Just about every WeedRepublic team member has at least one story from their youth about being scammed when buying weed on the black market. Our particular favorite is a friend of a friend who bought the corner of house brick wrapped in tinfoil as hashish in his youth!
You see the “fake sell” scam doesn’t really need something that looks like a weed to work. Since cannabis buds are so distinctive looking (and smelling), the scam instead relies on the dealer convincing the buyer to pay for the goods without checking them first.
For this reason, you won’t find your regular dealer ever trying to pull a stunt like this. They’d lose themselves one of their customers. It’s much more common when some stranger approaches you somewhere busy and asks if you want to buy something to smoke. If there are a lot of people around, you’re more likely to go along with their requests not to look at what they’ve sold you until after they’ve had the chance to make their getaway.
The scammer will use something that kind of feels like cannabis when bagged up. This could be something solid, in the case of hash, or any old leaves compressed and tightly wrapped if you’re buying bud. They’ll often put it in your pocket for you or your sock and take the money after telling you not to get it out until you’ve got some privacy. They’ll soon disappear, leaving you to unwrap some soggy leaves, or in our friend’s case, a big old house brick!
Beware of Growing Cannabis Lookalikes!
So, we’ve established that you’re unlikely to get scammed by a dealer selling you plants that look like weed but aren’t. However, that doesn’t mean that these lookalikes are harmless! There are a few occasions where you really want to beware of them!
If you’re growing actual cannabis illegally in a grow tent like the best-selling Vivosun, for example, it would be pretty stupid to load up your front garden with all the plants we’ve covered in this article. Nosy neighbors might have smelled you smoking a joint in your garden, see the star-shaped leaves out front, and jumped to a conclusion.
Grow your own magical marijuana plants at home with the best-selling Vivosun Hydroponic Grow Tent.
This super sturdy grow tent will keep all the wanted rays inside, and any unwanted rays out. Zip it up, but peer through the observation window whenever you want to check on your little plant buddies.
Now, them calling the cops would be pretty funny if you don’t have marijuana plants on your property. It’s probably less hilarious if you’re hiding a grow op!
We should also mention the live cannabis plant trade too. Many growers will sell whole mother plants or cuts for other growers to start from. In the case of cuttings, we can imagine an inexperienced grower seeing the serrated, star-shaped leaves of the Kenaf plant coming out of a Rockwool cube and believing they were buying cannabis cuttings. However, anyone with proper experience growing will spot differences. Chief of these would be the smell. Even vegging marijuana plants give off a slight smell. If you rub the leaves and smell your fingers, and you don’t smell something fresh, citrusy, and with a hint of weed, you might be looking at a marijuana lookalike!
Written by Megan Medeiros (BA)
Megan Medeiros has a bachelor’s degree in English and is currently working on a master’s in English at James Madison University. She's the owner and operator of Medeiros Writing, and has been working as a cannabis writer for the past three years, mostly following the legal climate of marijuana, especially in areas like California, Colorado, Oregon, Canada, and other legal areas.
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page. All photos were sourced from Pinterest.com | updated 2021