The more I research the cannabis plant, the more I realize what an amazingly complex and extraordinary plant it is. Today’s article will focus on Trichomes; what they are and why they are so important.
Trichomes are the small resin glands found on the ends of the flowers and main fan leaves of the cannabis plants in the late stage of their development. They are even found on the stalks, but in lower numbers. Cannabinoids and terpenes are manufactured within these tiny, mushroom-like protusions. They consist of a stalk and a head. The head is where the cannabinoids like THC are manufactured.
There are actually three types of trichomes; Bulbous, capitate-sessile and capitate-stalked. They range from smallest to largest, with capitate-stalked being the variety that is most visible to the human eye. It is not understood what the difference is amongst the three, but it is thought that they all manufacture cannabinoids and terpenes.
Here’s how it works….
Vacuoles and plastids are chemicals containing terpenes. They are produced in the stalks of trichomes and travel up to the head. Once they are in the head of the gland, ultraviolet light triggers a response to create cannabinoids. The wavelength, intensity and duration of light has a great effect on the volume and potency of the cannabinoids.
We’ve all seen pictures of sparkling, sugary trichomes. This does not necessarily ensure high levels of THC or potency of cannabinoids and terpenes. It is a good sign, however! Biologically speaking, trichomes evolved as a defense mechanism against insects and animals that might want to gobble it up. The trichomes make the cannabis plant much less tasty to predators. It also acts to inhibit fungi and protects it from high wind and low humidity.
The color of the trichomes is an accurate indicator of the maturity of the cannabis plants. If they are clear, this signals that the plant is not fully ready to harvest. When the trichome stalks are cloudy or milky, the cannabinoid profile is typically heady, energetic and a sativa-like high. If allowed to grow even longer, they turn amber or brown. This delivers a relaxed, indica-like body high to the user. However, just to keep growers on their toes, there are some cannabis strains that do not become amber or brown even when ready to harvest. Familiarity with these types of strains is crucial in knowing when to harvest them for optimum potency.
Trichomes are also the main material for many types of cannabis extracts and concentrates such as kief, hash and shatter.
Kief is a powdery form of decapitated trichome heads that you find in the bottom of your grinder. You can only produce kief via a grinder. It has higher concentrations of THC than other forms of the medicine.
Hash is similar to kief but is compressed using different extraction methods, both wet and dry. The trichomes become crushed and begin to cure on the outer regions. Some varieties of hash that melt may be vaporized on a hot surface like a nail. This is known as dabbing.
Bubblehash results from soaking cannabis leaves and occasionally flowers in ice water until the trichomes freeze and become brittle. When shaken, the trichomes fall off and are gathered in a fine screen at the bottom of a water reservoir.
Shatter, BHO (butane hash oil) wax and glass are all different methods of collecting and processing the trichomes. The result is a product that requires less smoking while significantly increasing the percentages of THC and CBD.
For those of you newbies, for whom smoking is not an option, I hope I have introduced you to other delivery methods that are more to your liking. Trying different delivery methods is the only way to know what works best for you.
Be sure to leave me a comment if you find you prefer one method over another. Enjoy!
Source: Massroots.com, What Are Cannabis Trichomes and Why Are They So Important, updated 11/06/17, Gooey Rabinski