Cleome – Resembles Marijuana

Q: I called your radio show hoping you could identify a plant that resembles marijuana…but there are small thorns on some of the stems.

A: You can tell the police that your plant is cleome, Cleome hassleriana. The skinny leaves do indeed resemble Cannabis sativa but the thorns are present only on cleome. Another plant often mistaken for cannabis is scarlet hibiscus, Hibiscus coccineus, but the bright red flowers of the hibiscus are unmistakable.