What Are Trichomes? The Significance And Importance Of The Crystalline Weed Outgrowths
The cannabis space can be intimidating for new consumers because of the scientific terms and slang words constantly thrown around and understood only by experienced users. There are also the buzzwords like “trichomes” that constantly pop up in weed writings and conversations, but what are trichomes, and what are they used for?
The cannabis plant is a well-known producer of many chemical compounds, including cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. At the heart of this production system are the trichomes. But what are trichomes, and what do they do?
If you have ever looked closely at weed nugs, you may have noticed the tiny, sticky, crystal-like outgrowths that seem to cover the cannabis flower and leaves. Those are the trichomes.
The word “trichome” comes from the Greek word “trichoma,” which means “hair.” In the cannabis plant, trichomes are the tiny translucent, crystalline outgrowths with bulbous heads that coat the cannabis nugs and leaves, giving them a crystal-like sheen.
They may look like a blanket of morning dew or like the buds were rolled loosely in sugar, but upon closer inspection, you realize that they are appendages that grow out of the plant’s flowers or leaves.
Besides enhancing the aesthetic appeal of the cannabis bud, trichomes serve more important functions to the plant and the user. Inside the trichomes are glands that produce the plant’s 400+ compounds, including cannabinoids and terpenes.
Trichomes change colour throughout the plant’s life cycle and depending on the environment where it’s grown. In the early stages of the flowering cycle, trichomes are smaller and clear, but as the plant matures, they turn translucent or opaque, with the colours ranging from cloudy white to pale yellow.
Types Of Trichomes And What They Do
Trichomes fall into two main categories, glandular and non-glandular. Non-glandular trichomes’ main purpose is defending the plant against small insects. On the other hand, glandular trichomes produce different chemical compounds.
The female cannabis plant has three types of glandular trichomes, including:
1. Bulbous Trichomes
These are the smallest of the three types, consisting of only a few cells and can only be seen through a microscope. Bulbous trichomes appear on the surface of the entire plant, and while their production of cannabinoids is still in question, they contribute to the crystalline-like appearance of the plant and stickiness of the bud.
These are larger than bulbous trichomes but are also only visible through a microscope. They are the most abundant and cover the plant from the stems, leaves and buds. These trichomes have secretory cells which produce cannabinoids and terpenes but not as much as the Capitate-stalked type.
3. Capitate-stalked Trichomes
These are what most people think of when the term trichomes comes up. They are shaped like mushrooms, with a large bulb head at the end of the stalk. These trichomes have a gland head that serves as the epicentre for cannabinoid, terpene and flavonoid synthesis.
While all three types can produce cannabinoids, the capitate stalked trichomes produce the highest concentration of essential oils due to their relatively larger glands.
Trichomes perform a protective role in the cannabis plant, producing chemicals that repel potential predators.
Trichomes are often referred to as the factories of the plant. They take raw cellular elements known as plastids and vacuoles to the glandular heads, where they make complex chemical compounds, including cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids.
The bulb heads of these trichomes fill up with the cannabinoid-rich resin to the point of bursting, releasing the sticky, gooey stuff. That sticky resin that covers the trichome surfaces performs a protective role, repelling insects and other predators that may be attracted to the cannabis flowers when they bloom.
Ironically, this protective sticky residue is what attracts us to the plant as it has high concentrations of THCA and CBDA, which, when heated, turn to the psychoactive THC and non-psychoactive CBD, respectively.
The concentration of the cannabinoids and terpenes produced is influenced by many factors, including environmental and genetics. As such, plants with the highest trichome concentrations don’t always produce the highest cannabinoid and terpene concentrations.
The concentrations of cannabinoids produced are typically strain-specific, although variables such as UV light can affect the chemical synthesis of the trichome glands. That said, farmers use trichome colour changes to know when the plant has peak THC levels before harvesting.
Trichomes’ lifecycle is largely parallel to that of the cannabis plant it appears on. This makes them a valuable feature for farmers to monitor, especially because they synthesize the cannabinoids and terpenes farmers are after.
On healthy cannabis plants, the trichomes appear early in the flowering stage. At this time, the gland heads are typically clear as they are just starting resin production. As they synthesize cannabinoids and the plant continues to mature, trichome heads turn from clear to opaque, cloudy white and eventually amber.
Cloudy white trichomes are at peak THC potency, and by the time they all turn amber, the THC starts degrading to CBN. Many growers try to harvest the buds right before the cloudy white trichomes degrade to amber.
So what does the colour of trichomes mean for your high?
If the trichome heads are clear, the bud was harvested prematurely and probably contains low to no cannabinoid and terpene concentrations.
Cloudy trichomes generally contain the most potent cannabinoids and terpenes. This is when the bud produces the most energetic heady high.
Amber trichomes have the most abundant cannabinoid and terpene yield as they are fully mature, but there is a slight decline in potency. After the trichomes turn amber, they have reached peak maturity, and their contents begin degrading.
Trichomes are quite sensitive and can be damaged by excessive exposure to oxygen, light, heat, physical contact and degrade over time. Trichomes can be preserved through proper trimming, drying and curing techniques.
Trichomes contain high concentrations of terpenes and cannabinoids. Therefore, they can be used to make cannabis concentrates that are typically more potent than the bud from which they are extracted.
One of the easiest concentrates to make is kief. Kief is made up of fine, powdery dry trichomes that naturally break away from the bud when using a grinder to break it down into smokeable pieces. Kief can be used to add THC levels in joints, bongs and blunts and can even be used to make edibles.
Another physical way to separate the trichomes is by making bubble hash. This method uses ice water and agitation to separate the trichomes from the buds, creating high-THC products like this Nike AAAA Bubble Hash available at LowPriceBud.
Other concentrates such as shatter, wax, crumble, and oils are made using chemical solvents to separate the trichome resin from plant material.
Where To Buy High-Quality Weed Online In Canada
Now that you know what trichomes are and why they are important, you may be wondering where you can get properly handled, stored and packed nugs that have their trichomes intact.
If you want to buy weed online in Canada, your best bet is LowPriceBud, Canada’s leading online dispensary.
LowPriceBud provides high-quality cannabis nugs that have been properly trimmed, dried and cured to preserve the trichomes and cannabinoid potency. What’s more, they have the lowest guaranteed prices in the market and lots of rewards, discounts, and offers.
Order weed online from LowPriceBud today, and we’ll deliver it to you anywhere in Canada.