What Are Trichomes?

So what are trichomes, anyway? Great question!

Cannabis trichomes are small, hair-like structures that grow on the surface of the cannabis plant. They’re most commonly found on the flowers and leaves, but can also be found on other parts of the plant, like the stems and roots.

Trichomes form shiny, translucent “crystalline formations” that are often referred to as the “frost” on the surface of the cannabis plant. They can be seen with the naked eye, but are best observed using a magnifying glass or microscope.

Types Of Cannabis Trichomes

Trichomes come in several different shapes, sizes, and colors, and can be classified into three main types: bulbous, capitate-sessile, and capitate-stalked.

Bulbous trichomes

Bulbous trichomes are the smallest type of trichome. They’re usually found on younger leaves and flowers of a cannabis plant. They are round in shape and have a single cell that contains the plant’s active compounds.

Capitate-sessile trichomes

Capitate-sessile trichomes are larger and more abundant than bulbous trichomes. These trichomes are found on the upper leaves and flowers of the cannabis plant. They are round or oval in shape, and have a single cell that contains the plant’s active compounds.

Capitate-stalked trichomes

Capitate-stalked trichomes are the largest and most complex type of trichome. They have a round or oval head that contains the plant’s active compounds, and a long, thin stalk that attaches the head to the surface of the plant. Capitate-stalked trichomes are found on the upper leaves and flowers of the cannabis plant.

Frosty nug of cannabis
Frosty Nug

While all three types of trichomes play a crucial role in the production of a plant’s active compounds, capitate-stalked trichomes are the most abundant and contain the highest concentration of these compounds. As a result, they are often the target of extraction methods used to produce cannabis concentrates.

What Do Trichomes Do?

Trichomes are responsible for producing the majority of the plant’s cannabinoids and terpenes: the active compounds responsible for the plant’s therapeutic and psychoactive effects. They also provide a protective function for the plant, by deterring herbivores and pests from consuming the plant.

How Do Trichomes Deter Pests?

The exact mechanism by which trichomes deter these animals is not well understood, but it is thought that the strong aroma and bitter taste of the plant’s active compounds, such as cannabinoids and terpenes, are unappealing to various herbivores and pests.

Some of the herbivores and pests that trichomes may help to deter include deer, rabbits, mice, and insects such as aphids and mites. It is important to note, however, that trichomes do not provide complete protection against all herbivores and pests, and other measures, such as fencing or pest control, may be necessary to protect the cannabis plant.

Can You Tell How Old A Cannabis Plant Is From The Trichomes?

As the cannabis plant matures, the trichomes on its flowers and leaves will undergo changes in size, shape, and color. The trichomes will start small and transparent, then gradually become larger and more opaque over time.

In the early stages of development, the trichomes will be clear or slightly cloudy. As the plant matures, the trichomes will turn amber or brown, indicating that the plant is approaching peak maturity.

Note that the appearance of trichomes can also be affected by factors such as light, temperature, and nutrients. For example, if the plant is not receiving enough light or nutrients, the trichomes may be smaller and less abundant than usual.

Are Concentrates Made From Trichomes?

Yes, many concentrated forms of cannabis are made from trichomes. Trichomes are responsible for producing the plant’s active compounds, such as cannabinoids and terpenes.

Concentrated forms of cannabis, also known as concentrates or extracts, are produced by separating the trichomes from the plant material and collecting them in a concentrated form. This can be done using a variety of methods, such as solvent extraction, mechanical separation, or ice water extraction.

The resulting concentrates are often more potent than the original plant material, and can be used to make various cannabis products, such as hash, oil, wax, shatter, or edibles.


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