Cannabis Trichomes. What are they and why are they there?

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Categories : Medical cannabis

Cannabis Trichomes. What are they and why are they there?

Trichomes are the jewels on the crowns of the cannabis plant. These microscopic glands are what it's all about when growing and enjoying marijuana.

Next time you are shattered by shatter or when some well matured crystal carpeted buds give you a psychic elevation. When next the thick dark blue oil lubes your aching joints or aromatic viscous honey dabs set your world swimming in day glo. Give a little thanks to the microscopic but mighty trichome. Those tiny crystalline mushrooms speckled in abundance all over the mature flowers of the marijuana plant that manufacture and harbour complex resins.


"A small hair or other outgrowth from the epidermis of a plant typically unicellular and glandular."

A gland is a structure in a plant or animal that secretes particular chemical substances for use in the body or for release into the surroundings. On the calyxes and pistils of mature unfertilized female cannabis flowers, club-shaped trichomes form glandular secretion units that perform a complex biosynthesis. From phytochemical precursors metabolites, including the cannabinoids unique to marijuana are created. Additionally over one hundred terpenes are manufactured and secreted as resins that accumulate in secretory cavities. These resins provide frontline defense strategies for the survival of the plant in nature. Terpenes represent the most diverse family present and are often engaged in the plants resistance against pathogens, fungus, herbivores and insectivores. The cannabinoid family of phenolic compounds may act as antioxidants under certain circumstances and protect the plant from oxidative stress. When trichomes are collected and dried these same resins are engagingly psychoactive for humans and are therapeutic in a substantial number of ways.


TrichomesWell before exotic custom extractions there was Doble Zero hashish. The very first screening of dried Moroccan marijuana. A large bowl was placed under a super fine screen and the trichomes caressed from the weed until there was enough to massage into a block and use for smoking. First pass, A-grade, top-shelf and at the time revered all around the world. Depending on where the source cannabis was grown, individual trichome characteristics change the hash colours. From an enticing Pakistani red to a Moroccan blonde or an Afghani black. Triple layer screen grinders do exactly the same thing today. The variegated colours are as diverse as the thousands of species available and can be seen in the bottom resevoir as delicious sticky icky kief. From the distinctive deep mauve of Grand Daddy Purps to the almost white blonde of a Lemon Haze. The new school strength Doble Zero. Trichomes in the raw. The essence of the plant.

Hash, terps, waxes, oils, shatters and bubbles, all owe their existence to the humble trichome. Each product is a different method of making the trichome surrender its desirable contents then concentrating them without any organic matter. Early picked milky trichomes from high THC sativas can be processed into a concentrated wax that can give an insistant uplifting cerebral intensity that is a multicoloured and beautiful thing. Well matured high CBD dark trichomed indicas when used in oil extractions can provide even body to mind therapeutic effects with texture, depth and radiance.


Northern Lights XL TrichomesAlong with the condition of the pistils the colour of these wonderful little phytochemical factories are a key indicator of marijuana maturity and when to harvest. Several cannabinoids that have different effects are produced by the trichomes as the plant matures . Early in the flowering phase the trichomes are clear. The calyxes are yet to swell and the pistils or hairs are still white or yellow. The trichomes remain clear until the plant has completely flowered. Soon the calyxes start to swell and the trichomes start to lose clarity and become milky. Their stalks curve firmly out from the plants surface and have a resin swollen bulbous cap. At this time, the pistils will start to ripen and change to a darker colour. Depending on species this can be deep yellow, orange, light brown or mauve.

During the final weeks the trichomes will start to develop colours that are species-dependant but will always be darker. Turning from uniformly milky to amber or maybe a dusty pink or even exotically in the case of the purple strains, purple. THC is most abundant when trichomes are beginning to turn from milky to their species specific colour and pistils are turning mostly darker. The resin resevoirs will be swollen but still well connected to their stalks. In very well matured samples the swollen head of the trichome will break off. THC degrades into CBD and other therapeutically desirable cannabinoids the more mature a flower and the darker the trichomes become. Experience will give you the ability to customize your grows for full personal effect.


Knowing when, how and why there are changes in trichomes guarantees you get the most from your marijuana. Whether distinguishing yourself as a grower of dank world class ganja, producing premium extracts or simply being a well informed consumer and a fan of the multicoloured micro world. Armed with a photographers loupe, mini microscope or good magnifying glass you can make the most of the kaleidoscopic miniature world of trichomes.