Trichomes: What Are They and What Do They Do?Erica Smith
Flowers come in a variety of shapes, aromas, hues, and sizes. However, every bud contains the same characteristic: a layer of trichomes, which are crystalline, sticky white glands.
Most of the plant’s cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids are produced by the small, glandular appendages known as trichomes found on the surface of cannabis flowers. Trichomes are present throughout the plant, although they mostly appear on the flower and leaves.
Trichomes are sometimes referred to as the “cellular metabolite factory” or “powerhouse” of terpene and cannabinoid production. In nature, they can act as the first line of defense against pests, pathogens, and environmental stressors. Cannabis trichomes are valued by people, unlike pathogens. Read on to understand why.
How Do Trichomes Work?
Trichomes are the delicate appendages of plants, algae, and lichens. The term “trichome” derives from the Greek phrase “growth of hair.” These tiny growths, which resemble clear mushrooms rising from the plant’s surface, can be made of hairs, glands, scales, or papillae.
Plants make trichomes for a variety of reasons, some of which include catching prey (such as venus fly traps). Other trichomes shield plant cells from damaging UV light.
Trichomes act as a defense mechanism for cannabis plants, preventing harm from being done by animals, insects, and even certain types of fungi. Trichomes are a valuable animal deterrent because of their bitter flavor and strong fragrance.
Most of the plant’s cannabinoids and terpenes, which both protect against pests and diseases, are produced by trichomes. Terpenes help keep the plant moist while keeping away would-be predators, and the sticky, bulbous glands can catch and hold tiny insects.
Cannabinoids are produced in the trichome as the plant reaches its flowering stage. Trichomes form on the plant’s outer surface as cannabis plants start to produce flowers and break down the basic components of many cannabinoids, including THCA and CBDA.
Types of Trichomes
The little, clear glands known as “bulbous trichomes” evenly cover the surface of the plant. These trichomes are what give the cannabis flower its crystalline sheen and are primarily to blame for the bud’s stickiness. Their role in the formation of cannabinoids is still disputed despite being invisible without a microscope.
Capitate Sessile Trichomes
Even though they can only be seen under a microscope, capitate-sessile trichomes are far more numerous than their bulbous counterparts. These trichomes are mushroom-shaped and primarily seen underneath sugar and fan leaves. At their base are secretory cells in charge of producing terpenes and cannabinoids.
The most identifiable, noticeable, and prevalent type of trichomes seen in cannabis is capitate-stalked trichomes, which are mushroom-shaped and have a sizable bulb at their heads. Secretory cells are found in the bulbs, which use the stalk to deliver nutrients to the head. The majority of capitate-stalked trichomes are located on the outside of cannabis flowers.
Benefits of Trichomes
Most of the terpenes, cannabinoids, and flavonoids produced by plants come from trichomes. These bulbous glands produce substances that combine with our endocannabinoid systems to treat various medical conditions, including pain reduction, nausea, inflammation, and insomnia, among others. These substances are what give cannabis its therapeutic properties.
For example, trichomes play a significant role in the production of cannabis concentrates, a common way for recreational and medical marijuana users to consume cannabis. Today, a lot of producers concentrate on growing cannabis flowers with more and bigger trichomes so that they can be used to make concentrates with high potencies.
The trichomes are removed from plant material by cannabis extraction artists using solvents or other separation techniques to produce a variety of concentrates. The majority of the cannabinoids and terpenes are left in the trichomes after producers separate plant matter from them using butane, CO2, or ethanol.
Concentrates from trichomes that weren’t separated by solvents include kief and bubble hash. These concentrates typically contain more plant material than solvent extractions, which isn’t always the case. In terms of flavor, scent, and even the kind of hash they generate, solventless extracts may better capture the essence of a specific cannabis variety. Additionally, the production process uses no solvents, which adds to its increased safety.
Concentrates can be cost-effective for consumers seeking high amounts of THC or CBD because they have high cannabinoid content percentages.
Frequently Asked Questions
When are trichomes ready for harvest, and how do they look?
Trichomes start to appear near the end of the flowering phase on healthy cannabis plants. Trichomes become increasingly opaque and milky white as they oxidize, eventually turning amber as they get older.
- Clear trichome = The plant has not yet reached full maturity and is not yet ready for harvest.
- Cloudy/milky trichome = The plant is at its highest potential and ready for harvest. Some contend that if a cannabis type is harvested at this stage, it will have a more uplifting effect.
- Amber trichome = Some believe that more amber trichomes create more substantial sedative effects, while others claim less potency.
Individual growers decide when trichomes are ready to be harvested; however, many watch for a majority of milky, hazy trichomes or a 50:50 mixture of milk and amber trichomes.
What are the purposes of trichomes?
Trichomes can be discovered on lichens, algae, and plants. Depending on the plant, they perform a range of roles. To defend themselves from pests, predators, and illnesses, cannabis plants secrete terpenes and cannabinoids. In order to prevent the plant from drying out, terpenes also help control the surface humidity of the leaves.
Are trichomes produced by male cannabis plants?
Male cannabis plants can generate cannabinoids and terpenes but do not create the trichome-rich bloom that females do. Instead, pollen sacs that resemble trichomes are produced by male plants and utilized to fertilize female plants. Trichomes are present in male cannabis plants but considerably less frequently than on female plants.