Tricomi della cannabis

Cannabis trichomes: everything you need to know

In this article we will tell you about trichomes, the particular glands that grow in cannabis flowers and which have certain functions. Trichomes are fundamental in this plant because they are able to regulate some specific processes, read the whole article to understand what these glands are and what they are for. Specifically we will tell you about:

  1. About cannabis
  2. What are trichomes?
  3. Scientific classification of trichomes
  4. What are trichomes for?
  5. What color should the trichomes of a plant be?
  6. The trichome method, what is it?
  7. How to increase trichome production?
  8. What are terpenes

Cannabis light

About cannabis

In all the articles in which we have dealt with cannabis and its derivatives , we have often focused on some of their innumerable potentials.

From the point of view of practical, therapeutic and recreational use.
For example, we have seen the exploitation of textile fiber obtained from the stem as part of the first group.

Studies on the use of hemp ethanol as a form of alternative fuel to fossil fuels and the use of hemp in global gastronomy.

Of the second group we have repeatedly examined the various aspects of recreational and healthcare use, made possible mainly by the aforementioned cannabinoids THC and CBD . The similarities and divergences of which we have analyzed at length in a specific article .

In order to go into detail and explain in more depth the millennial evolution of the cannabis plant, its potential for exploitation, its life cycle and the functioning of its active ingredients, we have often had to resort to premises or digressions on the morphology of the plant.

In its two varieties of sativa and indica .
And so, for example, we have seen that the two species have developed different forms. Not only! Also the size of the leaves and stem in order to better adapt to the different climatic conditions in which they evolved.

As regards the study of the two main cannabinoids, however, we had to introduce topics mentioned in the field of chemistry and inevitably disclose rarely used technical terms. Cannabidiol, brain barrier, tetrahydrocannabinol etc.

Today we will analyze other components of cannabis of which most consumers have experience... practical but not theoretical!

The most important elements of the cannabis plant are those responsible for producing the active ingredient , which gives dried buds the effects that all smokers love .

Marijuana must be good, starting from its flavor up to the resin, produced in the glasses and from the terpenes , which contribute to defining the flavor of each variety of cannabis.

Marijuana is a complex plant and each of its elements has a specific task.

There are some parts of the cannabis plant that are visible to the naked eye, while others are microscopic components, visible only under a microscope.

Pistils , for example, are the female reproductive organ of the cannabis plant and are visible to the naked eye; they appear as "hairs" that protrude from the calyx of the flower of the female plant.

Then there are the trichomes, which are so small that they can only be seen under a microscope, and are scattered throughout the cannabis plant.

What are trichomes?

While it is true that they cannot be seen clearly and individually, it is true that trichomes are among those responsible for the color of the plant . This is easily identifiable at a simple glance. Trichomes can also be touched and experienced!

cannabis trichomes In fact, they are responsible for that "sticky feeling" on your fingers when handling cannabis plants. And more generally about the effects of cannabinoids on those who take them , including the high. So let's see what it's about.

Trichomes are small growths that cover the entire surface of legal cannabis flowers.

Trichomes are very important: they are small mushroom-shaped glands, located on the flowers and on the so-called sugar leaves , the resinous leaves, and produce the precious resin which contains cannabinoids and terpenes.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary gives the trichome the definition of " a filamentous growth; specifically: an epidermal hair structure present in a plant ".

Comparing trichomes to hairs, however, tends to confuse them with pistils, which are perfectly visible to the naked eye.

Trichomes, biologically speaking, are real "forges" of cannabinoids: trichomes rich in CBD will be more suitable for therapeutic use, trichomes with high levels of THC will be useful for promoting the characteristic psychoactive action typical of marijuana.

cannabis trichomes

The resin is stored by the plant right inside the pistils , as if it were a small safe.

Knowing the stages of their maturation stage is essential to obtaining a high quality finished product. Trichomes are microscopic, so it is almost impossible to observe them with the naked eye and appreciate the changes.

To be able to study them precisely, you need to use a magnifying glass or, better yet, a digital microscope, which allows you to observe them on the PC monitor.

Analyzing them carefully is important, because, just as happens with the pistils, even in the case of trichomes the completion of maturation is given by a chromatic variation : you have to wait for these growths to go from their transparent appearance to a more milky and opaque shade.

Cannabis flowers

Scientific classification of trichomes

Scientists have identified three categories of trichomes present in the cannabis plant:


Glandular trichomes produce substances within their gland . There are three main types of glandular trichomes in the cannabis plant.

  • Capitate-pedunculated trichomes

Capitate-pedunculated trichomes are the largest, measuring 50–100 microns in width. These glands are generally visible on good quality buds. As you can guess from the name, these trichomes are composed of a relatively large stem, on which rests a gland rich in cannabinoids and terpenes.

  • Capitate-sessile trichomes

Smaller than the previous ones, these trichomes are however equally important. They reach 20–30 microns in diameter and, like the capitate-pedunculates, they also have a stem.

  • Bulbous trichomes

Despite their name, bulbous trichomes are truly microscopic, measuring no more than 10–15 microns in width. Unlike the other two types, however, they do not have a stem, but cover the entire surface of the plant.

Cannabis light

These trichomes are distinguished from others by the absence of glands: consequently they do not contain cannabinoids, but perform various other functions.

  • Unicellular trichomes

The single-celled trichomes are responsible for protecting the plant from environmental stress, such as high temperatures or lack of water.

They initially cover the plant when it is young, growing on the undersides of the leaves. They consist of a single cell and are only visible under a microscope.

  • Cystolytic trichomes

Cytolytic trichomes also arise early in the cannabis life cycle .

They are similar to single-celled trichomes, but are larger and have growths on the cell walls that make them rough to the touch; they have the task of protecting young specimens from possible herbivorous predators.

  • Sessile antheridial trichomes

Sessile antheridial trichomes grow exclusively on the anthers and calyxes of the cannabis plant. They have a size of approximately 80 microns and are therefore the largest of the sessile trichomes.

It is thought that in nature trichomes perform some protective functions on the cannabis plant, to promote its survival.

The sticky resin coat is a primary defense tool against fungi, insects and herbivorous predators.

Some flies and fungi are unable to penetrate the trichome barrier, while the terpenes eliminate the vegetable smell, deterring spiders and the like.

Furthermore, as already mentioned, trichomes play a key function for the growth of cannabis in adverse climatic conditions.

Cannabis light

The layer of resin offers the wild grass protection against violent winds, from the sirocco of the desert to the Siberian blizzard.

Trichomes even act as a natural barrier against the sun, protecting marijuana plants from the effects of UV rays.

Hashish is made from the resin produced by the trichomes .

In ancient times in Morocco it produced a dark rod much more powerful than the herb, wrapping the inflorescences in a loose-meshed fabric, in such a way as to allow the trichomes to pass through.

The material obtained was collected in a container and compressed into blocks.

Cannabis trichomes

What are trichomes for?

We have already seen how during its thousand-year evolution cannabis has implemented a series of defensive strategies, mainly morphological.

Designed to protect it from excessively humid and suffocating climates or, on the contrary, dry and cold ones. Trichomes are another defensive weapon .

The cannabis plant begins producing trichomes as soon as the seed germinates. This production proceeds incessantly and regularly until reaching its peak during the flowering phase.

“Colouring” with light warm shades a plant that until recently only seemed green. Until reaching the peak of growth in the last weeks of flowering.

They are different and specialized: they can grow on the underside of the leaves, in the stems, in the petioles or in the flowers. They can consist of a single cell but can also be multicellular. There are “ sessile glandular trichomes”, “pedunculated capitate trichomes” , “bulbous trichomes” or “cystolytic trichomes ”. Each with different shapes and sizes.

These droplets produced by the plant protect it from a series of external aggressions . Harmful insects, wear from rubbing of branches in the wind. They also constitute a filter against UV rays , and a thermo-insulator against dehydration from excessive heat or hypothermia.

It has also been noted that they defend the plant from fungal aggression, making it particularly refractory to infections.
From another perspective, a trichome can be seen as a real factory of essential oils, cannabinoids and terpenes.

Therefore fully responsible for the effects, psychoactive and otherwise, of the plant on the consumer.

And speaking of terpenes, which we dealt with en passant in a recent article on the decarboxylation processes of cannabis, they too have a defensive function, among others. Emitting the typical very pungent aroma, it dissuades those insects looking for... lettuce!

In short, trichomes are an irreplaceable ally for the grower and consumer of cannabis. In addition to all this, to an expert eye , trichomes provide important data on the quality and stage of development of a cannabis plant.

What color should the trichomes of a plant ready for harvest be?

First of all, it is good that the plant has a significant quantity of trichomes on its surface. This will be an indication of a rich content of active ingredient .
As regards this first aspect, there is little that can be done: genetics have a significant importance , and if you want to obtain a plant with high trichome yields, in addition to correct cultivation it is essential to start from a genetic line suitable for this purpose. .

However, there are some tricks to induce the plant's secretory cells to increase activity. In fact, we know that greater or lesser exposure to light has a decisive impact on the production of trichomes.

And in fact, plants grown near the equator tend to produce higher quantities of resin. Presumably to shield themselves from the large amount of UV rays.
Therefore, artificially subjecting the plant to a greater dose of UV-B rays for a period of two or three weeks can increase the production of trichomes.

Recently, due to concerns about energy consumption, most cannabis growers have tried irradiating their plants with LED lights. Which notoriously do not emit UV-B rays. However, they maintain that subjecting the plant to a few sessions of "stress" causes it to increase the secretion of trichomes.

cannabis flower

This is a gamble that forces us to adopt a trial-and-error policy, because naturally there is a point beyond which the stress becomes irrecoverable for the plant, whose structure succumbs.

The coloration of the trichomes provides an additional growth index that is very important for the grower.
In fact , the trichomes that a plant produces during the vegetal cycle have their own evolution as the plant grows .

Just as we could say that the plant changes its characteristics as the trichomes grow .

By observing trichomes carefully under a microscope you can see how they go through three distinct phases . In a first phase they appear as an expanse of stems surmounted by a head, both transparent and crystalline.

At this stage the production of cannabinoids has not yet begun , and therefore the plant is not "mature". That is, it is not ready for consumption.

Afterwards the head will become slightly more voluminous and the trichomes will take on a more opaque, almost milky colour . In this case we speak of a "cloud carpet" . This is the phase in which the plant has the highest concentration of psychoactive elements . Harvesting buds at this stage will yield a very THC-rich harvest.

After that , the plant begins to dry slowly, and the trichomes will take on a browner color . Ranging from amber to reddish in color. The plant stops producing THC. And the THC in it begins to convert into CBN (cannabinol).

The cannabis harvested in this phase will give a less psychoactive and more "corporeal" effect, stimulating sleep. Deciding the best time to organize the collection is essential. In short: each phase has its own effect, so... watch out for the trichomes!

The trichome method: what is it?

The trichome technique is the technique most appreciated by professional growers, because it allows them to establish with great precision when the time to harvest has arrived , to obtain a finished product of the highest level .

This method consists in observing the chromatic variation of the trichomes : when they change color it means that the time has come to move on to the harvest and drying phase.

When at least half of the trichomes have turned darker, the THC content will be at its maximum and the plants will be ready to be harvested.

At the beginning of the flowering phase the trichomes will appear transparent; when they appear like this, similar to crystals , it means that the flowers are not yet ripe and have not yet reached the maximum concentration of the cannabinoids.

Over time, the trichomes will become darker, eventually becoming milky white.

When the time comes to harvest, the plant makes sure to communicate it to the grower.

As long as the trichomes are transparent, the plant gives off a faint odor, but when they become opaque it means that THC production is at its peak and the odor also becomes more intense .

Following the evolution of the trichomes is important because it acts as a guide to act at the right time: if it is harvested too early, the psychoactive effect of the plant will be mild, due to the low concentration of THC , while when the THC is at its peak, the Marijuana will give a euphoric, positive and energizing effect.

However, if the trichomes darken further and turn amber, the buds harvested at this stage will produce more physical and sedative effects.

How to increase trichome production?

There are some rather unusual tricks circulating among cannabis growers to increase trichome production.

Like washing the roots with ice water , which would allow you to increase the quantity of trichomes, terpenes and cannabinoids in a simple and economical way.

Washing the roots must be carried out during the last week of flowering: the plants must be watered with large quantities of water to remove the accumulation of nutrients and, consequently, to improve the flavors of the buds.

Cannabis cultivation

There is no scientific evidence that explains how this method works, but it is a technique used by many growers and, even in the world of cannabis, word of mouth has its importance.

The cold could expose plants to a beneficial form of stress ; furthermore, temperatures close to zero prevent volatile terpenes from being released into the air during the last phase of flowering.

What are terpenes?

Terpenes are aromatic compounds contained in the cannabis plant, which give the plant its usual smell and taste .

The characteristics of cannabis are therefore not given only by the variety and the more or less massive presence of TCH and CBD, but are closely linked to the presence of terpenes .

It is thanks to terpenes that some varieties of marijuana have particular aromatic scents and it is always thanks to them if the effect of the cannabis you are smoking is more or less invasive for the body.

Terpenes are produced inside the trichomes and the concentration and potency varies based on environmental factors, from the type of soil to the type of climate.

Like trichomes, terpenes are also produced by plants to defend themselves from predators: thanks to their aroma, flowering cannabis plants are able to ward off harmful insects, attracting the beneficial ones responsible for pollination.

The amount and type of terpenes a cannabis plant produces depends on various factors.

The same variety does not necessarily produce the same aromatic compounds, due to factors such as climate, soil and fertilizers used, age of the plant, and other elements.

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