Whether you’ve heard of them before or not, you probably already love trichomes.
As you’ll soon discover, these critical structures are probably the most important part of cannabis buds!
Trichomes are the primary source of your favourite cannabinoids and terpenes for marijuana plants.
In other words, THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids are found inside the cannabis resin that these glands produce.
What’s more, trichomes serve a valuable protective role for the plants as well as an indicator of plant development for growers.
That being said, you might be curious whether or not do cannabis trichomes make you high? And what’s the primary function of trichomes?
To find out, keep on reading!
What are Cannabis Trichomes?
Cannabis trichomes are natural plant glands that produce specific compounds. Similar to human sweat glands, these structures produce a substance and exude it over the organism’s surface.
For cannabis, weed trichomes produce strong, bitter aromas that act as a defense mechanism and a deterrent against animals and insects that prey on them.
In addition, these glands produce essential oils, cannabinoids, and terpenes.
Basically, trichomes are the primary driver of the benefits of medical marijuana and recreational weed.
What’s more, trichome production on cannabis flowers and other plant material indicates high-quality and productive growing conditions.
For example, the female cannabis plant produces more trichomes and resin when it is not pollinated by male plant pollen.
Cannabis growers discovered that by removing all male cannabis plants, their yield improved greatly. This technique is now known as sensimilla, which means ‘without seed’ in Spanish.
Another important note about cannabinoid production relates to specialization.
When a plant produces high levels of THC, it inherently produces low CBD levels. This is due to the fact that both cannabinoids, THC and CBD, come from the same precursor compound.
In other words, depending on its genetics and the environment, the compounds produced by trichomes either develop into THC or CBD.
Types of Weed Trichomes
Okay, enough with genetics. Can we see trichomes?
Yes, you can, and there are actually three types!
These beautiful compounds can be seen with your eyes on cannabis buds. Getting closer with a magnifying glass reveals even more of what they look like.
These small spheres, filled with resin, cover the leaves, buds, and branches. You can spot the highest concentration on the buds, with the sugar leaves possessing a distant second highest concentration.
Branches contain a small amount of trichomes but you can spot a few there as well.
Growers studying trichomes found that their appearance could be used to determine plant development. Early on, the trichome appears clear, slowly turning cloudy white and then milky white over time.
As they mature and reach their highest THC potency, they turn amber or red. The best harvest time is often based on this trichome’s appearance.
When amber trichomes cover the entire bud, potency generally starts to decrease. For growers, this provides a clear marker of optimal cannabis harvest time.
Finally, advanced imaging technologies have also helped us discover the different types of trichomes. Here are the main three types:
The smallest type of trichome, bulbous trichomes, are difficult to see due to their size. They cover the entire plant, remaining close to the surface.
Capitate Sessile Trichomes
Capitate sessile trichomes are larger than bulbous ones and start to rise from the surface. The outward growth produces a head and body shape (similar to the appearance of a mushroom).
The largest of the trichomes, capitate-stalked trichomes, are the easiest to see with the naked eye. These glands produce the bulk of the resin found in cannabis plants.
The Function of Trichomes
As far as cannabis plants are concerned, these glands are essential!
The resin they produce is filled with compounds that serve protective roles.
For example, the resin helps repel pests, providing a bitter taste that they dislike. In addition, specific compounds possess antimicrobial, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial properties that keep the plant safe.
The sticky substance helps prevent plants from drying out due to the effects of wind and sunlight.
Furthermore, the resin protects the plant from UV solar rays. Cannabis flowers are delicate, but the protection offered by these glands helps them grow in just about any environment, adapting to form landrace strains.
As we saw earlier, trichomes can also be used to tell you when it is time to harvest your cannabis plants.
These resin glands change their colour during the flowering stage, providing a visible clue to the development of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids.
Those who want to grow their own weed can quickly use these clues to determine the stage of plant development.
And finally, what about getting high?
Do Trichomes Get You High?
The practical benefits of trichomes have been used for human benefit for thousands of years. Long before we used microscopes, growers discovered that cannabis resin was the critical part (as far as getting high is concerned).
Take hashish as an example. This cannabis extract is made by physically agitating buds and knocking off the trichome heads. The powder that falls through a filter (you may know it as kief) is then gathered up and compressed to form hashish.
As a result, you have a potent concentrate that is packed with cannabinoids, such as THC, which house the psychoactive effects of weed and can get you high.
So, yes, trichomes can get you high!
Which Strains Have the Most Trichomes?
Different cannabis strains possess unique genetics, which influence trichome development.
Hemp plants produce far fewer glands, with far higher levels of CBD. Alternatively, recreational cannabis strains have been optimized to focus singularly on THC and maximize its production. Finally, balanced strains have been selected based on their production of both THC and CBD.
You can tell which strains have the most trichomes through two primary methods.
First, you can simply look at the buds and assess how many tiny white crystals you can see around the outside.
Second, the THC and CBD potency levels will give you a good idea of trichome content. The higher the total number of cannabinoids, the more trichomes you’ll likely find.
A few examples of cannabis strains known for their trichome content include:
The White Widow strain is a balanced hybrid first bred in the Netherlands. The buds have a generous coat of white crystal resin. Once you see this strain in person, you’ll understand why it got its name.
This strain is known for its robust and herbal aroma as well as notes of bleach.
Users love this strain for its positive mental effects in addition to its medical uses. The high THC levels make this strain excellent for pain, anxiety and depression relief.
This mysterious hybrid strain has an unknown origin. What we do know is that you’ll find tons of trichomes and a rich, pungent aroma. Expect a potent high from this strain!
Users use this strain extensively for its full-body experience. Its sativa dominant traits lead to a clear, head-based effect that is also creative and uplifting.
With very high THC levels, Chemdawg is a powerful medical strain. Its high THC levels can address musculoskeletal pain, neuropathic pain, insomnia and migraines.
A massively popular sativa strain, Sour Diesel has a pungent flavour profile and energizing effects. You’ll find plenty of trichomes on these buds, giving you a fair warning of the high potency inside.
This strain has earned a name in its own right! Its uplifting, energizing effects are sure to captivate your mind. Paired with its subtle physical relaxation, Sour Diesel will have you feeling sweet as can be!
Trichomes – Tiny yet Mighty
As you learned today, trichomes are the glands responsible for producing cannabis resin filled with cannabinoids and terpenes. The importance of trichomes was discovered by humans long before science caught up, with hashish being the primary proof of this.
If you are looking to examine these structures, look out for strains such as White Widow, Chemdawg, and Sour Diesel. These strains are known to have more trichomes than others and are packed with THC if you are looking to get high and happy.
Finally, if you are interested in paying even more attention to trichomes, consider buying a jeweller’s loupe. It is cheap and tiny and can easily fit inside your travel bag, making it perfect for examining cannabis buds before you buy.
You’ve reached the end. Now, you can amaze your friends by educating them about trichomes and what they have to offer! Until next time, happy trails!