Please Don’t Call the DEA

September 30, 2008 | By | Comments (5)


Q: Could you please identify the unnamed leaves on page 96 of the September 2008 issue of Southern Living? Sure looks like cannabis.
Marilynne S.

A: At Southern Living, we deal in parties, pies, placemats, and pilates. We do not deal in weed. The leaves in question belong to Japanese maple and do indeed resemble those of marijuana. The leaves of a number of innocent plants do as well, including:

1. Spider flower (Cleome hasslerana)
2. Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus)
3. Texas star (Hibiscus coccineus)
4. Tickseed (Bidens coronata)

If you come upon leaves like these in the photo and wonder whether they’re from Japanese maple or marijuana, here a surefire way to distinguish them.
• Japanese maple leaves turn bright colors in fall.
• Marijuana leaves make you see bright colors year-round.

I get by with a little help from my friends,


  1. Angela

    It is Japanese Maple. They get all hues of color in the fall months.

    May 18, 2009 at 9:07 pm
  2. Grumpy

    Was it “head” lettuce?

    September 30, 2008 at 8:36 pm
  3. Helen

    I had a brother-in-law who tried to smoke lettuce leaves, it didn’t work. Just if anyone was curious.

    September 30, 2008 at 5:18 pm
  4. Grumpy

    Maybe those Japanese maple leaves work after all! How about it, Grumpians? Any of you ever dabbled with “magic maple”?

    September 30, 2008 at 3:32 pm
  5. allison

    I was thinking that these were Maple leaves, too. I absolutely love to see the red, orange, and yellow colors of the leaves this time of year. By the way, your tips on ways to tell the difference are hilarious!

    September 30, 2008 at 1:47 pm

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