Plants That Look Like Weed – They’re Probably Growing in Your Garden

For people like me who are fond of growing various plants, it’s not much of a surprise if you encounter plants that are similiar to each other. Things become troublesome though if you’re cultivating the plants that look like weed

In order to give you heads up in case a misguided cop knocks on your door and proceeds to tell you that you’re illegally growing weed in your garden, here’s a list of “Plants that Look Like Weed” that you should be aware of.

5 Plants That Look Like Weed

1. Spider Flowers

Spider Flowers bear uncanny resemblance to weed

Spider Flowers or Cleomes are annual plants that bloom flowers with lovely shades of pink and lavender. They also produce long protruding stamens that is spider-like in appearance. Though these plants are quite pleasing to look at when in bloom, these plants bear a frightening resemblance to marijuana in their youth.

Aside from the fact that the leaves are palmate and have slightly jagged edges, Cleomes can also grow quite tall (3-4 ft average) and can release a strong musky scent that to any untrained eye, that plant innocently growing in your backyard is most definitely a marijuana.

Since these plants also self-seed, meaning it can propagate easily by itself, and they don’t bloom until they’ve properly acclimatized in the soil, you might find yourself growing a pseudo marijuana plantation if you’re not careful. Just imagine the horror!

The only way you can avoid this, if you’re adamant in having Cleomes in your garden, is by properly cultivating the plant so that it blooms sooner or you can also take the easy route of creating a sign that says “This plant is Cleome, not marijuana.”, and pray that people will believe you.

2. Kenaf

Kenaf is a Legal Weed Look-Alike

If you’re the type that is excitable, overly suspicious and has high sense of justice, you might find yourself calling the cops and reporting your grandma to the police for illegal cultivation of marijuana after stumbling upon a patch of Kenaf on a secluded part of her garden.

Like Spider Flowers, Kenaf, bear an uncanny resemblance to cannabis before they bloom. The tell-tale star-shaped leaves, 7-pointed lobes and serrated edges are more than enough for people who didn’t know better to mistake young Kenaf plants for marijuana…which is not really surprising.

Though it is related to cannabis, in case you didn’t notice the “cannabinus” part in its scientific name, Kenaf can’t get you high (unfortunately), but it has its own merits. Kenaf are a popular source of fiber and has been cultivated in the US for various purposes.

The unique combination of Kenaf’s short core fibers and long outer bark makes it a popular source of paper, twines, ropes, bugging and rugs. If you’re not the type to be easily deterred by snooping police officers and has a dream of creating your own paper or rope factory, Kenaf plants are perfect for you.

Just be prepared to foot the bills when your Kenaf plantation gets raided by high-strung police officers because apparently, they won’t have to pay for any damages caused if you can’t prove “deliberate indifference” on the police’s part . Yikes!

3. Mexican Chaste Trees

Chaste tree’s leaves look like weed

At first glance, Mexican Chaste Trees look nothing like marijuana, but you might find yourself taking a second glance when you look at its leaves.

Like the infamous Cannabis sativa, Mexican Chaste Trees have palm-shaped leaves with seven pointed lobes, but contrary to the jagged leaf edges that marijuana has, Chaste Trees have leaves with smooth edges.

Appearance wise, that’s as far as the similarities go, but an overly active imagination coupled with paranoia goes a long way.

You might find people suspecting you of cultivating a new variety of marijuana if people around you aren’t very familiar with chaste trees, especially if they catch you harvesting some leaves since they can be used as a seasoning and can also be turned into dye.

Aside from that, various parts of the tree can be used in traditional medicine, as they are known to reduce menstrual cramps and infertility problems.

4. Texas Star

Texas Star is an infamous weed look-alike

Texas Star, is a perennial shrub that bears a striking similarity with cannabis due to its star-shaped and serrated leaves. In more than one occasion.

Texas Star has been mistaken for marijuana and has had homeowners frightened out of their wits when a fully armed Anti-drug Task Force, complete with K9-units, all pumped-up with adrenaline and guns a blazing invaded their homes for a supposed drug raid.

The situation would have been hilarious and relatively harmless if members of the law enforcement took the time to listen to the poor homeowners’ explanations and no dire consequences occurred but no such luck.

To any untrained eye and a distrustful mind, a harmless patch of ragweed can look like a marijuana plantation and Texas Star may even look like the infamous strain of weed – Panama Red, due to its white and red flowers.

The beautiful large off-red flowers of this hibiscus plant may offset any inconveniences a misguided police suspicion may bring, but just to be on the safe side, place a label in front of the plant patch to stop any inkling suspicion the local police force might have.

If that doesn’t work, you are free to go on a rant about the differences between Texas Star and cannabis right down to their taxonomical classification and chemical composition.

5. Cassava

Cassava: The weed look-alike from afar

If you’re fond of cassava cake like me, you’ve probably tried growing cassava before. These tropical plants, which are native to Brazil and the tropical areas of America, produce a long tuberous starchy root that is largely consumed in various countries due to its versatility.

It can be grated, boiled, chopped as is and can also be turned into crackers and other delicacies such as cassava cake. Up close, you will find that cassava looks nothing like marijuana.

Aside from the palmate leaves, there’s no other striking resemblance between the two but on aerial surveillance, a yard full of cassava can look like a marijuana plantation. Any misunderstandings can be easily solved though, after a closer inspection.


Since cultivating weed is illegal, you can’t really fault concerned citizens for reporting you to the cops if you’re suspected of growing one. If that happens keep calm and take time to inform your suspicious neighbour that it’s not weed you’re growing - just a weed look-alike. A good talk goes long ways.

So there’s that. If you have other plants that look like weed growing in your garden that’s not in this list, feel free to tell me. I’d also love to hear any experiences you’ve had about mistaken identity and if you enjoyed this article, please share.

Dan Harris

Hi. I'm Dan Harris. My wife and I started gardening 5 years ago. Neither one of us had any gardening background but we loved the idea of growing our own organic food. Over the years, our garden has almost doubled in size and I’ve learned a lot from my season’s successes and failures. I’ve been excited to share my own beginning knowledge and special skills with all garden lovers.

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