Cannabis Plants 101: A Quick Guide to Trichomes
If you have an interest in plants, you will probably have heard oftrichomes. Those who buy cannabis buds regularly or grow their ownrealize that these are very important parts of the plant.
Take acloser look at any flowering plant and you’ll see thousands of tinycrystalized dots covering the buds and the leaves. They often have astickiness and pungent aroma.
These are the trichomes and they’repretty interesting. The great news is that our understanding oftrichomes has grown in recent years, as any expert cannabis seed growerwill be able to tell you. If your new to growing your own plants, thisquick guide should give you the facts you need to harvest a good crop.
What Are Trichomes?
Trichomesare found on all plants. They’re very small appendages that form inflowers and on leaves. The name trichome comes from the Greek whichtranslates into ‘fine hairs’ and that’s a pretty apt description of whatthey look like. If you have a microscope and can get to look at thesefeatures a little closer, however, you’ll see they have a distinctlymushroom shape with a slightly bulbous top.
Each tiny trichome on a weed plant, however, is a manufacturing powerhouse, producing a whole range of different cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids.If you ever wondered what contributed most to the potency of yourcannabis plant, look no further than the not so humble trichome.
That’swhy novice growers are always advised to take special care not todisturb the trichomes too much when they are harvesting.
What is the Purpose of Trichomes?
Itdepends on the plant. If you have a Venus flytrap in your home, youwon’t be surprised to learn that the trichomes here are used to attractprey. Flowers and trichomes are also used to attract insects so thatpollination can occur. When you walk into a room where there arecannabis plants growing, you will usually smell a distinctive aroma.This is in large produced by the trichomes which are also quite stickyin nature.
When it comes to the cannabis plant, trichomes are alittle more complicated. They are defense mechanism. In the wild,cannabis can be attacked by a wide range of insects and the trichomeswork to keep the harmful ones away. They protect the plant fromenvironmental threats such as UV rays as well as problems such asmildew, damp, frost and mold. Trichomes have a bitter taste which alsomakes them unpalatable for many animals.
This is all well and goodbut you’re probably more interested in the cannabis part of trichomedevelopment. This happens as soon as the plants start to flower and istruly a miracle of biology. Without it you wouldn’t have THC, CBD,flavonoids and terpenes in such abundance.
The Types of Trichome You Find in Cannabis
Aswith anything to do with plants, there are a variety of differenttrichomes that all have different functions. When it comes to cannabis,however, there are three that seem to be more important and moreprevalent. These are:
- Capitate-Stalked Trichomes: These arethe largest you’ll find on the plant and the ones that you are normallyable to see without a microscope. They have a fairly large bulbous headwhich is full of cannabis goodness.
- Capitate-Sessile Trichomes:These are smaller and produce cannabinoids but not in the same quantity.Think of them as the second-string team, quite good but not likely towin the championship or give you a great high.
- BulbousTrichomes: These are pretty small, less than a few microns across andhave little value because many are composed of just a few cells. They doproduce cannabinoids but far, far less than the other two types.
Asyou might expect, the bigger the trichome, the more oil and cannabisresin you are going to get out of your plant. Squeeze these gentlybetween your fingers and you will quickly feel that oily consistency andsmell that pungent aroma.
How Trichomes Develop
When yourcannabis plant reaches the flowering stage, the trichomes will start toappear and burst into life. They form in many places where the plant isabove ground, including the flowers and leaves and, when in abundance,they look like tiny crystals. Changes start to happen inside the bulboushead of the trichomes while the beginnings of what we recognize ascannabis metabolize.
Obviously, if you are trying to growcannabis, you may think encouraging as many trichomes as possible isgoing to be important. Partly, trichome concentration is determined bythe genetics. Different plants have different concentrations. Butanother factor is also what happens in the environment – the amount oflight, the weather conditions (if growing outside) and the nutrition areall going to have an effect.
It’s time to issue one word ofwarning here: High concentrations of trichomes don’t always translate tomore cannabinoids. It’s worth finding out more about the strain you aretrying to grow and ways to maximize yield. There’s a happy medium withmost cannabis seed strains that you need to find to get a good crop youcan then dry and cure.
Focusingon things like the quality of light can have an effect on cannabinoidproduction. It’s largely accepted if you can provide a wider spectrum oflight you should encourage more ‘potent’ trichomes.
How to Get More Trichomes
Mostcannabis growing experts will tell you there is an optimum point whenyou need to harvest your crop. That’s when the trichomes are at the mostabundant at least in terms of cannabis content. Potency will grow onceflowering starts but will begin to degrade at a certain point. A clearindication that you are reaching the maximum yield and should harvest,is when the trichomes start to change color and begin to becometranslucent, milky and then amber in color. Much beyond this stage andyou’ll begin to lose cannabis power.
Another thing that cannabisgrowers need to understand is that trichomes are really, really fragile.Even when they are growing on the plant, you need to be careful how youhandle them, especially if your crop requires training or controllingin some way. Things that can effect the trichomes and their cannabinoidcontent include agitation and touching, the temperature, the amount oflight, even the level of oxygen in your growing area.
Don’t forget that time is also a factor. Don’t leave your harvest too long.
Here are our top suggestions for maintaining your plant and getting the most from your harvest:
- Greatlyreduce the amount you touch or have contact with the plant – in otherwords, unless training is required, let it grow and don’t disturb.Follow this simple rule: When in doubt, leave alone.
- The moment that you will have a lot of contact with your cannabis plant is at harvest time.It can be tempting to wade in and cut away enthusiastically, especiallyif this is your first crop. Our advice is to do this slowly and gently,paying special attention to not disturbing the trichomes.
- Anotherfactor that you’ll need to take into account is the drying and curingprocess. Some experienced growers use this moment to extract thevaluable cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids to protect them. That caninclude processes such as dry sifting as well as making concentrates. Alot will depend on the kit and room you have. If you prefer traditionalbud, don’t worry. If you are handling everything gently you may losesome trichomes but you’ll still end up with a great cured product at theend.
- If you want to get involved in preserving trichomes asmuch as possible, it’s worth sitting down with a professional cannabisgrower and picking their brains. Experience will obviously improve yourgrowing technique, however, and that should be enough to produce a greatcrop, even from just one cannabis plant.
- For those who are juststarting to grow their own seeds, it’s worth learning as much as youcan about trichomes. There’s a lot of information online and the moreyou understand the better you’ll be at cultivating and harvesting yourcrop.
Trichomes are one of nature’s more amazing creations.They not only deliver pungent aromas and fight off insects but alsoprovide a powerful punch of CBD or THC, terpenes and flavonoids. Allthat while only being about the size of a pin head. If you are searchingfor great seeds to grow your first cannabis crop, at Seedsman we have a huge range of strains.