Back when I lived in Tennessee, I attempted to grow cassava plants indoors over the winter with the help of some grow lights. They were sitting on a nice window seat by one of the front windows of my house. I kept the curtains drawn to help keep in some of the heat.
One night after setting them up I went for a walk and looked at my house from the road.
I suddenly noticed the window: the grow light (now I’d get a better one, like this model) behind the cassava silhouetted the leaves against the curtain and I was shocked. It totally looked like I was growing pot.
Seriously – it was a hilariously incriminating tableau, if harmless.
Cassava don’t look much like marijuana up close, but they do have a similar leaf shape. With a light shining through them and out into the dark front yard, it looked like Cheech and Chong’s house.
There are plenty of plants – like cassava – that can sometimes be confused with marijuana by folks that aren’t that good at taxonomy.
I thought it might be helpful for me to do a post containing some of the various plants that grow in Florida (and other subtropical to tropical locations) that you might see in landscapes, food forests and butterfly gardens which have a cursory resemblance to Cannabis sativa.
Here’s what Marijuana looks like:
|Photo from Wikimedia commons.|
NOTE TO POLICE: THIS PLANT IS NOT AT MY HOUSE – IT’S FROM WIKIPEDIA!
Actually, the only time I’ve ever seen marijuana growing was when we rented a house down in South Florida.
Apparently someone had dropped seeds in the side yard because there was a sickly little plant there. The landlord pointed it out to us when we were inspecting the house for the first time, laughed, cracked a joke, then removed it.
So… let’s take a look at the look-alikes
Plants With Leaves That Look Like Pot
1. Coral Plant
This attractive flowering plant in the spurge family has leaves that look like marijuana; however, the milky latex, bright blooms and fleshy stems rapidly rule it out.
Before flowering it could perhaps be mistaken for pot; afterwards, there’s no way.
2. Cranberry Hibiscus
Latin name: Hibiscus acetosella
This member of the hibiscus family is often planted as an ornamental in warmer climates. It’s a perennial shrub with pink blooms that have burgundy throats. The leaves are edible raw or cooked, with a tart, lemony flavor.
If you were colorblind you might get worried about this one; otherwise, the red leaves should convince you that your potential criminal is just a plant enthusiast, not a drug dealer.
If the suspect has a tattoo of Bob Marley with a hookah beneath a glowing mushroom, however, all bets are off.
3. Rose Mallow/Scarlet Hibiscus