what herb looks like weed

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

Japanese Maple

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.

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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!

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Coral Plant

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.

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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.

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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!

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

11 Plants That Look Like Weed But Are Entirely Legal (With Pictures)

Experienced gardeners know about the plants they are growing. They understand how the plant looks like when growing or fully grown.

But sometimes beginner gardeners often get confused with the plants that look like weed but isn’t a weed.

This happens so often that you may imagine that law enforcement may not get confused about plants’ similarity with other weed-like plants.

Let’s look at 11 plants that often get mistaken to be weeds.

1. Japanese Maple

Japanese maples are plants that look like a weed. You can grow it in a container or outside in the garden. It comes in several different varieties with different styles of leaf shape and color.

When the plant is still at a growing stage and has green leaves, it looks like Cannabis. This cannabis look-alike plant grows in Japan, Korea, and central China.

2. Coral Plant

The Coral plant is also known as Jathroha Multifida and has leaves that look very similar to weeds. Many people get confused with the texture and style of its leaves, which has sharp cuts and more extended sizes.

This is a tropical plant and grown primarily for its leaves and red flower bunch. This plant looks so similar to wild weed that some dealers try to sell it as a real weed to unknown marijuana users.

It’s mainly found in Mexico and Central America as the weather is more tropical at those places.

3. Okra

Okra is another plant that looks like a weed, especially its buds look very similar to weed buds. In fact, this has such a similarity with the illegal pot that cops in Cartersville mistook it to be weed and arrested a man who had grown Okra in his garden.

In reality, the Okra is an edible plant that is usually grown in warm and tropical climates such as in South Africa and Asia. Many southeast Indian cuisines use Okra in several of their dishes.

If you mistook Okra to be Cannabis and eat it, then don’t worry, as it has lots of nutrients which is right for your body.

4. Cranberry Hibiscus

Cranberry Hibiscus has a Latin name of Hibiscus Acetosella and is also known as African Rosemallow. It has large colorful leaves that look like cannabis leaves.

Once fully grown, the leaves turn out to be broader and look like a Maple leaf, but it can be easily mistaken for cannabis leaves when the plant is still growing.

Due to its high similarity with the marijuana plants, people like to plant it in either container or indoors when it’s small. After it has started blooming, the flower and leaves look quite different than weeds plants.

You can use the flowers and leaves of the Cranberry Hibiscus with salads or other dishes or use them as a natural food color.

The plant looks like a weed, but it has no THC, you won’t get high after consuming it.

5. Cassava

Cassava is mainly known for its medicinal properties of the roots. The roots are quite poisonous if you eat raw. To eat it, you have to cook it properly, which removes the harmful hydrocyanic acid from the root.

The leaves of Cassava look like marijuana as it has light greenish color leaves like Cannabis. The leaves are directly attached to the stem and are grown in the bunch.

However, its similarity to the weed ends there. It’s grown for the starch and used for human and industrial consumption.

6. Sweetfern

Sweetfern is a primarily invasive weed, which grows in the yards and garden. It’s part of the bayberry family and native to eastern Canada and the U.S.

Its fern-like leaves give the appearance of marijuana leaves, but it’s quite aromatic when rubbed. These smells feel similar to smokable pots that make people get confused as they think that it’s some different variety of Cannabis.

The leaves grow in multiple bunches from a single stem. As the plant grows further, the leaves spread out. It’s entirely legal to grow sweetfern wherever you want.

Although the plant looks like a weed, in reality, it’s just another herbal plant.

7. Cleome

Cleome may not look like a wild weed plant when its flowered with bright red and purple color flowers. But while growing up, it gives the appearance of weeds. The leaves are long and spikey similar to a pot.

The Cleome flower is also known as spider flower due to its long tentacles stretching from the flower stem. It typically blooms in summer and lasts till the frost starts.

You can plant Cleome as an edible plant. It also attracts beneficial insects in the garden.

8. Texas Star Hibiscus

Texas Star Hibiscus is a slender, multi-branched plant that has leaves grown like Cannabis. The bright green color leaves don’t have very sharp pointy edges, but its long thin textured leaves create the illusion of a cannabis plant.

For people familiar with the pot or have experience growing it, they won’t consider the Texas Star Hibiscus plant to look like weed. Still, for casual users, they may indeed get confused.

When fully grown, it blooms crimson red or white color floor, but at the growing stage, it resembles more to the pot plant.

As the name suggests, the natural growing area of this plant is in Texas with flower blooming time from June to October. This is a very versatile plant and can be grown in moist and well-drained soil. It needs full sunlight to flourish and are perennial in nature.

9. Kenaf

Kenaf is known as Hibiscus Cannabinus in the scientific community. It’s grown primarily for food and fiber. But these plants resemble so much like a weed that your home visitors may think that you are into some bad company.

Like other commonly mistaken plants that look like weed, Kenaf has considerable similarity to Cannabis plants. This similar characteristic comes from the texture and leaf size of the plant.

It has star-shaped leaves with serrated edges. A stem may have a collective bunch of 7 blades that look similar to marijuana plant leaves.

In fact, this plant looks so similar to Cannabis that its scientific name has Cannabis terminology in it.

Just be careful when growing Kenaf in your home as you don’t want your concerned neighbour to call the police and report you to have illegal grow up.

10. Tagetes Minuta

Tagetes Minuta is also commonly known as Muster-John-Henry. It grows up to 1.2 m in length and 0.6 m in width, similar to cannabis plants.

The leaves are long, elongated, and finely serrated resemble the pot leaves. When the leaves are rubbed, it smells like a licorices.

With fully-grown stems, the plant blooms white and yellowish flowers, which gives the telltale sign that it’s not a weed plant. But when it’s small and growing, the plant looks like very much a weed plant.

The Tagetes Minuta is a native to South America, but it’s also commonly grown in other parts of the world. The plant has several medicinal properties as it found to be invasive and effective in controlling fungi, bacteria, and roundworms.

11. Chaste Tree

The Chaste Tree, when fully grown, does not look like a wild weed. But when it’s still small and growing up, the plant looks very similar to a pot. The leaves are long and serrated like Cannabis, and each stem contains 5 to 6 leaves like hemp or other cannabis leaves.

When fully grown, it doesn’t look like shrub anymore and becomes easy to know that this is not a weed plant. But at the initial stage, the plant has a very high resemblance to the weed.

Overall, the plant grows 8 to 12 feet tall and wide. The leaves are quite aromatic, and the plant bears the violet color flowers. The flower grows like a lavender, which, when bloomed, attracts bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects in the garden.

You should regularly prune the chaste tree plants as if left unchecked it can grow up to 15 to 20 feet tall. The pruning shears helps with shaping and adequately sizing the plant.

About Plants That Look Like Weed: Final Thought

Although marijuana plants are becoming legal in most parts of the world, such as in Canada and some parts of the U.S, it’s still widely considered to be illegal in most of the places.

The cannabis plants have a distinct look, and the hallmark of their appearance is the leaf. The long serrated and pointed leaves give the telltale sign that it’s a marijuana plant.

Many companies also use pot leaves distinct looks like a representation of hemp. This creates confusion for people who are not actually familiar with the marijuana plant. They often mistakenly assume plants with similar leave to be a pot plant.

In some cases, it may cause inconvenience to the planter as the law enforcement gets involved in investigating if you are doing illegal grow up.

Knowing the plants that look like weed gives you some caution before planting or explaining it to your suspicious neighbour before they dial law enforcement to report about you wrongly.

Some plants look like a pot, but in reality, it's not. Check out the list of 11 plants that look like weed when growing, and how to tell the difference.