Trichomes, for the uninitiated, are the part of the cannabis plant that gives it its frosted look. They play an important part in giving cannabis its appearance and aroma, while also producing the chemical compounds that affect the human body.
Function of Trichome
Beyond their production of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids that provide cannabis its potency, trichomes also serve as a layer of protection for the plant. They have a bitter taste and give off a strong smell that makes them unappealing and unappetizing for most wild animals. Even further, they act as a shield against strong winds, as well as some forms of fungus.
Types of Trichome
Three types of trichomes are most found on a cannabis plant:
- The bulbous trichome is tiny yet abundant, consisting of only several cells yet present over the entire plant.
- The capitate sessile trichome contains a head and stalk and typically exist in greater numbers than the bulbous trichome.
- The capitate-stalked trichome is the only one of the three visible to the human eye without microscopic lenses. This trichome also is the central force in cannabinoid and terpenoid production.
Trichome Production and Lifecycle
As the cannabis plant begins to bloom, trichomes begin their synthesis of cannabinoids. Plants that receive a broad spectrum of light will generally produce higher concentrations of cannabinoids, regardless of the concentration of trichomes, but the plants’ genetics also play a role in the concentration and production of cannabinoids.
As the plant continues to mature, so do its trichomes. Beyond its role as a defensive shield, trichomes also indicate to farmers when a planet has ripened and should be harvested. Trichomes play an extremely important role in the life of the cannabis plant. Without them, cannabis would lose its potency and protection, as well as its communication to the outside world that the plant is ready to be harvested.