Annual herb to 2 m or more tall with rough stems and a characteristic smell. Leaves alternate (occasionally opposite at the base of the plant), stalked, palmate, dividing almost to the base into 3-9 leaflets, each narrowly lanceolate and strongly toothed. Sexes mostly on separate plants. Flowers in erect clusters; mostly summer. Male flowers branched. Sepals 5. Stamens 5. Female flowers with thin sepals closely enveloping the superior ovary. Style 2-branched. Fruit yellow to brown or mottled, ovoid to round, slightly flattened achene.
Cultivation of this plant is illegal and it is a declared noxious weed for the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria and New South Wales. Some innocuous clones are grown commercially on a limited scale in Tasmania for fibre production.
Widely cultivated in temperate and subtropical regions for the fibres obtained from the stem (hemp) and used for the manufacture of cloth and rope. Male plants grow taller and produce better fibre. Also well known as as the source of a narcotic drug which is the exudate from the glandular hairs of young leaves, stems and flowers (known as Marijuana, Weed, Pot or Grass) or as resin from flower heads (Hashish). It has been used medicinally as a sedative. An oil, used in paint and soap, is extracted from the seeds.
Palmate leaves with narrow, toothed leaflets.
Source: (1997). Cannabidaceae. In: . Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 2. Flowering plants. Dicotyledons. Part 1. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.