What Are Trichomes? Why The Frostiest Flower Gets The Most Love
What are trichomes? Are they important in weed? This article will give a detailed answer regarding trichomes, including what they are and how they help enhance the entourage effect.
The cannabis plant is known for the hundreds of chemical compounds it produces, many of which have therapeutic effects on the human body. At the heart of this production system are the trichomes. What are trichomes on weed, and what are their functions?
If you have ever looked at a cannabis bud, you may have noticed the tiny, translucent crystalline outgrowths that look like they have bulbous heads. These frosty-white crystals are known as trichomes.
Trichomes, however, do more for cannabis than add to the aesthetic appeal. They are essential to the survival of the cannabis plant as they serve protective and healing roles. But to humans, trichomes are factories that produce the cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids that we consume for psychoactive and medicinal benefits.
In this article, we will answer the question “what are trichomes” as we let you know how nature’s cannabinoid and terpene factories play a role in the whole cannabis experience.
So what are trichomes in relation to cannabis and why should this matter to you?
Trichomes are the clear to white, hair-like appendages that occur on the surface of the cannabis flower, often giving it a frosty appearance. The term “trichome” comes from the Greek word “trichoma,” meaning “hair.”
Trichomes are the crystalline structures that primarily cover the cannabis flower, although they appear across the entire plant, including leaves and stems. Due to their appearance, trichomes give the cannabis nugs a sugary, crystal-like look.
These hair-like growths are known for their terpene and cannabinoid production role. That’s why they were collected throughout history and compressed to create hashish – one of the oldest cannabis concentrates created by humans. But before we get into their functions, what are trichomes made of?
Trichomes may be made of glandular hairs, papillae, scales, or just hairs, depending on the type and where they appear. Now that you know what terpenes are, what are their functions?
3 Different Types Of Trichomes And Their Functions
There are different types of terpenes on the cannabis plant. There are two categories of trichomes, glandular and non-glandular trichomes. Non-glandular trichomes do not produce resin and only serve as a defensive mechanism to impale small insects that attack the plant.
Glandular trichomes produce a resin that contains desirable compounds, including terpenes, cannabinoids and flavonoids. Glandular trichomes can be categorized into capitate-stalked, capitate-sessile, and bulbous trichomes.
1. Bulbous Trichomes
These are bulbous appendages that can only be seen with the help of a microscope. These tiny bulbs dot the entire surface of the cannabis plant. Although their production of cannabinoids is still in question, they add to the frosty, crystal appearance of the cannabis plant and also add to its stickiness.
2. Capitate-sessile Trichomes
This type is also only visible with a microscope. They are more abundant than bulbous trichomes, and they have secretory cells that produce terpenes and cannabinoids. Capitate-sessile trichomes are mostly found on the underside of sugar and fan leaves.
3. Capitate-stalked Trichomes
This type primarily appears on the surface of cannabis buds. Capitate-stalked trichomes are shaped like tiny mushrooms with a large bulb on one end of a stalk, and they can be seen by the naked eye.
These trichomes are the primary producers of terpenes and cannabinoids.
So what are trichomes used for? These compounds have different roles in the cannabis plant. These fine appendages start forming as the plant is about to move into the bloom stage. At this point, the glands in the mushroom heads start synthesizing chemicals that later become cannabinoids or terpenes.
As the cannabis flower bloom, insects, birds and other organisms become attracted to the flowers, but the resin produced in the trichomes repels them away. The resin is bitter and has an intense aroma that many insects and birds can’t stand, and therefore, the cannabis flowers are left free to blossom without any interruptions.
But the protective role of trichomes doesn’t end there. The resin and the cover they provide are also said to protect the plant from UV-B radiation by acting as optical filters.
Trichomes and the resin they produce screen out wavelengths that could damage the sensitive tissues. Their clear/white colour also increases surface light reflectance, protecting the plant against intense sun rays.
Resin and trichomes can also help heal the plant when it’s wounded and prevent pathogens from infecting the plant. Ironically, the protective secretions these trichomes produce are what attract us, humans, to the cannabis plant.
Trichomes’ lifecycle is largely parallel to that of the cannabis plant it appears on, making it an essential tool for farmers. When the trichomes’ biochemical activities are over, they change colour, signaling that the flowers are ready for harvest.
Monitoring trichome colour changes is important for timing the harvest to ensure the THC is at the maximum levels in quality and quantity. Transparent or translucent trichomes are still forming and don’t have any cannabinoid content.
Over the course of a few weeks, trichomes transform from a clear appearance to milky-white and cloudy-white colours before finally taking on an amber hue. Depending on the effects the grower is aiming for, harvesting may occur when the trichomes turn cloudy white.
Cloudy white trichomes typically contain peak THC levels. When trichomes turn amber, the potency will decrease as the THC degrades into CBN. At this stage, if you don’t act fast enough, the contents degrade in quality.
Most farmers prefer harvesting as soon as the trichomes start turning to amber. However, it’s important to note that not all cannabis strains are the same, and some will have different colour trichomes.
Trichomes are the natural factories in the cannabis plant that synthesize THC and terpene-rich resin that consumers are after. These glandular outgrowths take cellular elements known as plastids and vacuoles and process them into cannabinoids and terpenes, which are then stored in the bulbous heads to the point of bursting open.
This resin can then be collected for human consumption as the cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids it contains may benefit human health, despite having an opposite impact on insects and potential predators.
This resin is used to create different products, including cannabis concentrates. A bud with a heavy trichome cover is considered better to make concentrates, although the higher amount of resin produced doesn’t always mean that the bud will have higher THC levels.
Cannabis trichomes can be separated from the bud using mechanical or solvent extraction. Mechanical methods, also known as physical separation, are used to break and remove the trichomes from the plant material by rubbing, shaking, or pressing the ripe buds.
These methods create concentrated products such as hash, kief and dry sift. Looking to buy weed online? This Ketama Gold Afghan hash from West Coast Cannabis is made from high-quality trichomes for the most potent and flavourful experience. You can also get high-quality Lemon Sour Diesel kief to add an extra kick to your joints.
On the other hand, chemical extraction uses a solvent such as CO2 or butane to dissolve the trichomes to separate them from the plant materials. This method creates THC distillates, BHO shatter, wax, crumble and cannabis oil.
What Are Trichomes? Here’s What We Know
If you’re wondering what are trichomes, simple answer; they are nature’s factories for compounds such as CBD, CBN and THC, terpenes and flavonoids that make smoking cannabis a fantastic experience and provide health benefits.
You can consume trichomes in weed flower or products like THC distillates, vapes, and other cannabis concentrates. If you are looking to purchase weed online, check out West Coast Cannabis, Canada’s top online mail-order dispensary.
At West Coast Cannabis, we have all types of weed strains and products at the best prices in the market. Order weed online from us today and enjoy high-quality goods, amazing prices and Canada-wide shipping!