Cannabis Trichomes: What You Need to Know
You know the hairs you see on the surface of marijuana that tend to be brightly-colored and sparkly? – these are trichomes. This word comes from the Greek word “trikhoma” that means “growth of hair”. The trichomes are responsible for giving each strain of marijuana the unique smell, taste, and effects for which it's known.
Types of Trichomes
- Capitate-stalked trichomes first appear during flowering and can reach 150 to 500 micrometers in length. The female flower bracts are covered in these trichomes.
- The second type of trichomes is called “capitate-sessile." These trichomes are smaller than their stalked counterparts and they 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 of their own about the size of one cell. These trichomes contain cannabinoids that are weak and not fully developed.
- The third type of trichomes are the smallest; they're known as “bulbous trichomes." These trichomes grow between 15-30 micrometers and 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.
Terpenes are often responsible for the particular smell of marijuana present in each strain. For example, myrcene is the terpene responsible for the skunk-like odor found in marijuana strains like Sour Diesel. The trichomes develop this terpene as a result of their environment, specifically to deter herbivore predators like deer, keeping the plant safe as it grows.
Trichomes contain THC-A, making them very acidic. The acidic nature of trichomes is used as a defense mechanism from potential predators. Cannabinoids like THC and CBD that are found in trichomes are poisonous to insects and some animals.
The Power of Trichomes
After taking a closer look at trichomes, we can see that they are responsible for the parts of cannabis we love, like the hallucinogenic property, for example. There are many techniques that you can use to stimulate trichome development for growers. Like taking special care of your buds when you are drying/curing them, for example, because it is possible to knock the trichomes off, removing the valuable cannabinoids and some of the marijuana's flavor.
Written by Megan Medeiros (BA)
Megan Medeiros has a bachelor’s degree in English and is currently working on a master’s in English at James Madison University. She's the owner and operator of Medeiros Writing, and has been working as a cannabis writer for the past three years, mostly following the legal climate of marijuana, especially in areas like California, Colorado, Oregon, Canada, and other legal areas.
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