Last updated: May 19, 2021

What Does Dioecious Mean?

Dioecious is a characteristic where a plant species has male and female reproductive organs on separate plants. This means that while monoecious plants (those that possess both male and female reproductive organs) may pollinate themselves, dioecious plants require another plant of the opposite sex to achieve pollination.

Only a tiny percentage of angiosperm species are entirely dioecious. Cannabis plants are considered dioecious plants because they are primarily either male or female. However, hermaphrodite plants do sometimes occur.


Maximum Yield Explains Dioecious

In addition to cannabis, other popular examples of dioecious plants include dates, holly, ginkgo, sago, spinach, mulberry, and currant bushes. Although this characteristic is rare in most plant families, it is more common in heterotrophic species and woody plants. However, this does not imply there must be exactly one male for each female for pollination to occur. Generally, one male can serve to pollinate several plants depending on the species and type of plant. For example, one male date palm can pollinate up to 50 female plants.

Growers of cannabis plants watch for the sexual characteristics of the plants to develop so they can separate the male plants from the female. Removing the male cannabis plants from the presence of the female plants encourages the female plant to develop excessive resin in an attempt to capture male pollen for fertilization.

In some plants such as the date tree, it is not visually apparent whether a plant is feminine or masculine until it has undergone full development (about three years). When the flowers are fully developed the female flowers usually lack stamens while the male flowers normally have small or no stigmas.

Dioecious in fungi refer to both the recipient and the donor responsibilities in mating, where a nucleus is transmitted from a particular haploid hypha to the other, and later the two nuclei fuse through karyogamy to form a newly fertilized offspring. Most fungi rarely have both masculine and feminine reproductive organs. A particular plant of a dioecious fungal species is required to have a companion for mating and to perform either the role of being the recipient or the donor.

Dioecism is also applicable in sporophytes because each sporophyte has a single kind of spore-producing tissue whose gametes eventually give rise to either female gametes (eggs) or male gametes (sperm).


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PropagationPlant TypesPlant ScienceCannabis

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