Trichomes: What Are The Benefits Of Trichomes For Cannabis? [Defensive Mechanism Is One]

Trichomes are appendages that influence the taste, smell, and aroma of marijuana, so they are very important to marijuana growers.

Trichomes: The Highlights

  • While trichomes don’t always signal that a cannabis plant is healthy, it is a strong indicator that the marijuana plant is highly potent.
  • Trichomes act as a defense mechanism while female cannabis plants are growing.
  • When it comes to the production of cannabis plants, two factors come into play: environment and genetics.
  • A high concentration of trichomes doesn’t always translate to a highly potent weed plant.
  • You can extend the shelf life of trichomes beyond that of the weed plant by applying specific extraction methods.

What Are Trichomes?

In Greek, Trichomes means “growth of hair”. Trichomes outgrowths or appendages on certain types of plants. These tiny “hairs” seem to be the most common indication of a healthy, thriving marijuana plant.

From a glance, trichomes may give weed a frosty appearance, but in reality, that frostiness is due to the composition of trichomes.

While trichomes don’t always signal that a cannabis plant is healthy, it is a strong indicator that the marijuana plant is potent. And the potency depends on the level of THC it contains.

Some cannabis strains are better when harvested when production of THC has reached its peak while others will be better if harvested a few days later. Weed growers can look at the trichomes to determine how potent the strain of marijuana is.

When THC concentration is at its peak in trichomes, they have a clear color since the plant is still producing resin in the trichome glands.

The Purpose Of Trichomes On Weed

The purpose of trichomes varies depending on the species of plant. For instance, some plants use trichomes to help them catch prey.

Trichomes play a similar role in regard to weed. And that role is it acts as a defense mechanism while female cannabis plants are growing in nature.

Various types of animals and insects will try to eat the cannabis plant but the trichomes deter them from doing so. It does so by making the cannabis plant taste bitter while giving off a strong odor that makes cannabis flowers inedible.

Trichomes also protect weed plants from non-living environmental factors such as harmful sunrays, damaging winds, and even fungal growth.

Trichomes And CBD

Macro shot of Trichomes

Trichomes hold the helpful terpenes, as well as both the THC and the CBD compounds. You could say that trichomes are the tiny factories that give cannabis its flavor and give each strain of cannabis its unique scent and aroma.

The industrial hemp plant that’s used in the production of hemp CBD has many trichomes on its surface. If the hemp flowers are densely packed and covered with a lot of trichomes, they will produce high-quality CBD oil.

CBD-rich trichomes are usually removed from the flowers of industrial hemp with great care to prevent any damage. In fact, the best quality CBD producers hand-trim their hemp plants to ensure that the trichomes are not damaged in the harvesting process.

Then, an oil press is used to extract the CBD from the trichomes.

Types Of Trichomes Found On Weed

There are a variety of trichomes found in weed plants. Here are the three main ones that appear most often on them:

Capitate-Stalked Trichomes

Capitate-stalked trichomes are the most essential to your weed using experience, as they carry the most terpenes, essential oils, and cannabinoids.

These trichomes are between 50-100 micrometers wide, meaning they are able to be seen by the naked eye.

Capitate Sessile Trichomes

Capitate sessile trichomes are the 2nd largest of the trichomes group. They tend to measure around 25 to 100 micrometers in length.They are slightly larger than bulbous trichomes and are significantly more abundant.

Bulbous Trichomes

The bulbous trichome is the smallest type of trichome found in weed plants. It only measures 10 to 30 micrometers in length which is barely visible to the naked eye. Thus, it is tiny enough to only be comprised of a handful of cells.

How Are Trichomes Produced?

Super -macro close up of trichomes on female cannabis indica plant leaf with water drop for size comparison.

Next, let’s discuss two important factors for trichomes to thrive.

Factors That Influence Trichome Production

When it comes to the production of cannabis plants, two factors come into play: environment and genetics.

So if you want an abundance of trichomes in your weed, then choose genetics (seeds) that are known to produce an abundance of them. Afterward, place the seeds in an environment where it will grow best.

But please remember that a high concentration of trichomes doesn’t always translate to a highly potent weed plant. Sometimes, a high level of trichomes can be found on marijuana with a low level of cannabinoids and/or terpenes.

(Note: Two cannabis strains that tend to be abundant in trichomes are Lemon Shining Silver Haze and White Widow)

Trichomes began to form when cannabis plants are within the bloom phase of growing.

As they begin to produce flowers, trichomes form along the outer surface of the above-ground plant vegetation and begin to transport plastids and vacuoles from their stalk into the gland head.

Then, the gland head begins to shape and form to what will eventually become cannabinoids.

The lifecycle of trichomes parallels that of the cannabis plant it inhabits. So it is super easy for a grower to determine what level of maturity the trichomes (as well as the weed plant) is simply by looking at its color.

Trichomes lifecycle begins by displaying a clear translucent color. From there, it matures to a cloudy white and eventually, an amber hue. The grower can use trichomes color indicator to determine when’s the best time to harvest the cannabis.

Keep in mind: Not all strains of cannabis are the same and some trichomes will display maturation differently.

So you can’t expect for every type of cannabis strain the growth within the same length of time. However, looking at the color of the trichomes is the best way to monitor them.

How To Identify The Best Harvesting Window For Trichomes

Again, the color of the trichomes will determine when it is best to harvest them (and the cannabis plant in general). You should do this during the last few weeks of the flowering stage.

When the trichomes still display a cloudy white color but are already turning slightly amber, harvesting will result in a nice mix of effects.

Here are 3 golden tips to remember when harvesting certain strains of cannabis:

  1. Look for when the bulbous heads of trichomes look clear and fully developed in strong Indica strains. This usually means the weed will be highly potent and give you a great stimulating effect.
  2. The best time to harvest most Sativa-heavy hybrids and long flowering strains are when the trichomes head appear to be 30% amber hue and 70% milky.
  3. Watch out when if the bulbous head turns a milky color in hybrid cannabis strains. This means that it is ready to harvest.

While harvesting, you must keep in mind that trichomes are delicate and risk destruction due to several elements. And these elements are:

  • High UV rays (sunlight)
  • Heat
  • Physical agitation or contact
  • Time
  • Oxygen

These elements can not only destroy the trichomes but the essential oils within them. That’s why it is imperative that you take proper care of the marijuana plant.

To keep trichomes thriving, you have to apply proper drying, curing, and trimming techniques. These techniques also ensure that the terpenes and cannabinoids contained within the trichomes are held together.

You can extend the shelf life of trichomes beyond that of the weed plant by applying specific extraction methods. There are several methods that one can utilize to properly extract trichomes from the plant.

Methods such as “kief” and using butane or propane are used to extract trichomes.

Trichomes: Making Cannabis Better

As you just read, trichomes are very instrumental not only for your cannabis experience but the growth of it as well. It protects the plant from animals, insects, and a slew of harmful environmental factors.

Cannabis strains that contain an abundance of trichomes tend to be highly potent. Depending on when it’s harvested, trichomes can enhance the “high” one feels or be a sedative sleep aid.

As marijuana becomes more known for its medicinal benefits than its recreational use, trichomes will be a term the general public will begin to learn in the upcoming years.

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