Cannabis without trichomes is like pool without water: deprived of one of its main ingredients. Basically, trichomes are resin glands, a fundamental component that makes cannabis very special. They are better known as the layer of crystalline frost on cannabis buds, leaves and nugs. You might have noticed them as they are the usual culprit of your sticky fingers after you roll a joint.
Trichomes are factories that produce cannabinoids and terpenes which essentially define a flower’s potency, effect and flavor. Understanding trichomes is critical in determining the varieties of cannabis that work best for a person.
What are Trichomes?
Trichomes is derived from the Greek word trichoma which means “growth of hair,” which is just apt because trichomes resemble hairs. Functionality-wise, trichomes offer various benefits to different plants, as they also exist on all kinds of lichens, algaes and plants. When it comes to cannabis, they act as a form of defense for female plants, giving them a pungent scent and bitter taste. They also help protect against harmful UV rays and harsh winds.
There are lots of varieties of trichomes, but only three of them contain THC and other beneficial cannabinoids. All these three kinds of trichomes produce cannabinoids and secrete important oils that we rely on to define the characteristics of various strains.
- Bulbous trichomes. The smallest of the kinds, measuring 10 to 15 micrometers. It is very tiny and is difficult to see with the naked eye. They are made of resin-secreting gland sitting on short supporting stalk.
- Capitate sessile trichomes. This is the middle option by amount and size that cover the plants more densely than bulbous trichomes. They produce cannabinoids throughout the whole life cycle of the plant.
- Capitate-stalked trichomes. The most abundant of the three varieties, these are the trichomes that can be seen without a microscope. They measure about 50 to 100 micrometers in width.
Trichomes and Cultivation
Farmers usually trust their observational skills when it comes to gauging the health of the plant. In the case of cannabis, they usually look at trichomes since their lifecycle runs parallel to the whole plant. The maturation of the cannabis plant matches with the evolution of the color of the trichome, usually changing from clear to cloudy to amber. With these color transitions, farmers are able to see if their crop is growing as expected.
There are cases, however, when trichomes do not change their color even when maturation happens. Thus, it is imperative that farmers know the certain characteristics of the kind of cannabis they are growing and the environmental factors that affect its trichome production and growth cycle.
Trichomes and Cannabis
Now that you know what trichomes are and their role in making marijuana the way it is, should you look at trichomes to determine the kind of cannabis that you should buy? The answer is that there is no guarantee that a high amount of resin glands directly equate to more CBD, THC and other beneficial terpenes and cannabinoids. However, it is a sign that the plant is healthy, not to mention aesthetically pleasing.
Take your trichome experience to the next level by learning how to make hash, shatter and kief. All these three are essentially concentrate trichomes that are separated from the main marijuana flower. The main difference among them is form: kief is a powdered form of hash, while shatter is a product of concentrated cannabis resin.
Aside from protecting marijuana plants from animals, insects and disease, and making the plant look beautiful with its hairs and crystals, cannabis trichomes also manage to facilitate the production of compounds with medicinal and therapeutic benefits. Indeed, they are a remarkable aspect of this wonderful plant.