When you take a close look at marijuana buds, you will notice the glistening tiny hairs that cover the surface – these are trichomes. The word trichome comes from the Greek word “trikhoma” that means “growth of hair”. The trichomes are responsible for giving each strain of marijuana its’ unique smell, taste, and effects.
3 Types of Trichomes
The cannabis plant has 3 types of glandular trichomes. The largest, that you can see with the naked eye, are called “capitate stalked trichomes”. Cannabinoids like THC and CBD are most prevalent in these trichomes.
1. Capitate stalked trichomes first appear during flowering and can reach 150 to 500 micrometers in length. These trichomes cover the female flower bracts (small leaves that cover the seed sites) and also the tiny leaves that accompany the buds.
2. The second type of trichomes found on the cannabis plant are called “capitate-sessile”. These trichomes are smaller than the stalked trichomes, and form before flowering. Visible in the immature cannabis plant, the capitate-sessile trichomes appear to lie flat against the leaves and stalk, however, they have a stalk that is about the size of one cell. These trichomes contain cannabinoids, but they are weak and not fully developed.
3. The third type of trichomes found on the cannabis plant, “bulbous trichomes”, are also the smallest. These trichomes that grow to between 15-30 micrometers are the result of secreted resin from head cells. When fully saturated, the bulbous trichomes will appear as a pointed shape scattered all over the growing plant.
“All glandular trichomes produce cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. The plant produces these sticky trichomes to protect itself from insects and other predators”.
For example, the terpene “myrcene” is responsible for the skunk-like odor often produced by marijuana strains like Sour Diesel. The trichomes develop this terpene as a result of its’ environment, specifically to deter herbivore predators like deer.
Trichomes are also very acidic as they contain THC-A. The acidic nature of trichomes is again used as a defense mechanism from potential predators. Fortunately, the cannabis plant did not evolve to protect itself from humans.
In fact, cannabinoids like THC that are found in trichomes are poisonous to insects and some animals, but that same poisonous effect is what we desire when using cannabis as a medical and recreational drug.
The Power of Trichomes
“ We know that those cannabanoids in the trichomes are psychoactive, and we absolutely love that”.
After taking a closer look at the tiny trichomes we can see that they are responsible for the aspects of cannabis that we adore. There are many techniques used to stimulate trichome development that you should be aware of especially if you are a marijuana grower.
Take special care of your buds when you are drying/curing them, because it is possible to knock the trichomes off of the buds, thus removing some of their flavor and valuable cannabinoids.
Take a look at the Trichome Institutes video that dives deeper into the power of trichomes.