Have you heard about trichomes, but are overwhelmed by the different names and parts of the cannabis plant, as well as the wide variety of products that it can produce? Don’t worry, we’ve got you!
Below, we’re going to break down what trichomes are, what they do, and why they matter if you use (and love) CBD.
What are Trichomes?
In the cannabis industry, the leaves and buds of the plant usually get all the spotlight- but actually, the trichomes are the real star of the show. All Cannabis sativa plants (hemp and cannabis) develop trichomes- a term you’ll likely hear a lot of since trichomes are where pretty much all the good stuff lives.
Trichome literally means “fine outgrowths or appendages.” To the naked eye, they may look a lot like frost or dust- but with a hand-held microscope, you can see that they are actually tiny, mushroom-shaped growths that coat the surface of mature cannabis flowers.
Both cannabis and hemp plants naturally develop trichomes; however, because historically cannabis has been cultivated for medicinal and recreational use, they’ve been bred to maximize the development of trichomes. These make cannabis a much higher source of phytochemicals and cannabinoids.
Why are Trichomes Important?
In addition to housing essential components like cannabinoids and terpenes, trichomes play an important role in the overall survival of the plant.
The sticky, resin surface provides a natural defense against fungus, insects, and predators such as herbivores that cannot penetrate the gooey barrier, or are deterred because they find the flavor/texture unappealing.
Trichomes also reduce the heating effect of sunlight; their resin heads bind UV rays, acting as a natural sunscreen so that they do not harm the growing buds, or cause mutations in the plant.
Apart from chemicals that ward-off animals and pathogens, some trichomes also secrete a type of mucus that serves to trap insects when they come in contact with the plant leaves. This substance also helps prevent excessive water loss from the leaves as well as protecting the plant from excessive moisture.
If you’re someone who has found relief in taking CBD on a regular basis, you’ve got trichomes to thank! Through the natural process of biosynthesis, the first cannabinoid to form within trichomes is CBGA (or cannabigerolic acid), the precursor to all other cannabinoids.
Different Types of Trichomes
Trichomes might appear to be the same to the naked eye, but as mentioned above, they actually exist in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Here are the 3 main types of trichomes you’ll find on cannabis plants:
These are the smallest trichomes found on cannabis plants, ranging between 10-15 micrometers. These trichomes usually appear on the surface of the entire plant, and are harder to see without a microscope. Bulbous trichomes usually do not produce, or store, cannabinoids or terpenes.
Capitate sessile trichomes
These trichomes are slightly larger, and have a more mushroom-like appearance that features a head and a stalk. Capitate sessile trichomes are found more abundantly than bulbous trichomes. Capitate-sessile trichomes produce cannabinoids throughout the plant’s life cycle, but at much lower levels than the capitate-stalked trichomes.
These are the largest, and also most abundant, trichomes found on cannabis buds. They usually range from anywhere between 50-100mm in width, which makes them a little more visible to the naked eye. These trichomes also feature a stalk and head, which serves as the center of terpene and cannabinoid production.
Whether alive on a vine or harvested, trichomes are extremely volatile, and risk destruction from things like:
- Physical touch
Not only do the trichomes themselves risk damage when exposed to these elements, but the essential oils within them risk degradation. There are ways to dramatically slow degradation of trichomes by carefully handling cannabis flowers both during propagation and post harvest.
By limiting physical contact and agitation to the flowers themselves, trichomes may be preserved on the plant for longer periods of time.
Those of us who take CBD on a regular basis don’t typically think about all the systems and processes that it takes to fill your little bottle of CBD oil. The amazing benefits of CBD however, wouldn’t be possible without the presence of trichomes.
Trichomes deserve a serious round of applause, for their role in protecting the cannabis plant as well as providing a well-oiled manufacturing facility for hundreds of medicinally and therapeutically beneficial compounds exclusive to this amazing plant.
If you are interested in learning more about how your CBD is made, what is in CBD, or why you should be taking CBD regularly, head over to The Bloom to catch-up on the latest and greatest blog posts. You can also feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’d be happy to answer your questions!