If you've ever seen a marijuana plant, you've probably noticed the crystals that form during the flowering stage. They aren't bling or eye candy for the buds. These crystals are known as trichomes on weed, and they’re responsible for the effects and flavors of every marijuana strain.
What do trichomes look like? Although they resemble crystals, they’re actually tiny mushroom-shaped hairs. The word "trichomes" comes from the Greek word tríchōma, which translates to "growth of hair."
Why do growers and consumers care about trichomes? They create cannabinoids and terpenes and act as a natural defense mechanism.
Let's explore trichomes, how to increase their production, and what they do for your cannabis plants.
What are trichomes on weed and what do they look like?
Trichomes give weed its psychedelic effects. Without them, cannabis plants wouldn’t be as desirable as they are.
Trichomes produce resin with varying THC and CBD percentages. As the hairs mature, cannabinoid development increases. Growers use the color to know when to harvest their marijuana crops. Trichomes are said to produce more than 200 cannabinoids and terpenes.
During the flowering stage, the tiny hairs begin to form. They start as clear glands with small heads. At this point, the cannabis trichomes are still immature and won't be very potent or flavorful.
They change into a milky white hue when the trichomes reach their peak THC levels. After that, they begin to turn an amber color. The THC percentage drops, and the CBD rises.
These hairs also produce terpenes, which give the marijuana flavor. Like cannabinoids, the taste is best when the hairs are a cloudy white. The cannabis has a grass or hay flavor if you harvest it too early. When overripe and golden, the taste is muted.
Are you wondering when to harvest cannabis plants?
When growing sativa-leaning plants, we recommend harvesting when all the weed trichomes are milky with about 30% amber. The energizing feelings will still be present but mellowed out to avoid overwhelming side effects.
Jack Herer feminized seeds are a popular sativa-dominant variety to grow. These crops develop plenty of trichomes with up to 23% THC. This strain produces a blissful and energetic buzz. Thanks to the terpenes, the flavors are earthy and musky, with some sweetness.
If you're cultivating indica-dominant plants, we suggest harvesting before the trichomes turn amber. The sedating effects aren’t as strong, and the mental sensations are more stimulating. Harvest later if you want the powerful effects of cannabis.
Granddaddy Purple feminized seeds are popular among indica lovers. These plants produce beautiful trichomes that create buds with a fruity flavor and high THC. The effects are relaxing and sedating—ideal for a rainy day or lazy Sunday.
What cells make up trichomes?
Trichomes on weed consist of a stalk and gland head. Each part is constructed by different types of cells:
- Epidermal cells give the hairs strength to stand straight and appear on the outer part of the stalk.
- Inside the stem of the trichomes are hypodermal cells that transfer nutrients to the head.
- You find basal cells at the bottom of the gland head and the top of the stalk. They keep the two together.
- There are stipe cells at the base of the head.
- Secretory cells are in the gland heads, and they take nutrients and turn them into cannabinoids and terpenes.
Are trichomes hairs or crystals?
When looking at a flowering marijuana plant’s anatomy, you might think crystals cover the buds and leaves. These structures are actually tiny hairs.
Weed trichomes are mushroom-shaped with a stalk and a gland head. As the cannabis plant matures, they become larger, more fragrant, and exhibit color changes.
How are trichomes produced?
We consume cannabis because of the cannabinoid's effects on our minds and bodies. We can thank trichomes for producing THC and CBD.
Metabolites, including cannabinoids and terpenes, form in the secretory disk cells.
During cannabis trichome development, cells undergo changes in morphology, physiology, and cell cycle regulation.
Growers want as many trichomes as possible because it means their buds are more potent in effects and flavors.
Bruce Banner regular seeds create massive amounts of these tiny hairs, resulting in a superhero of a crop. This strain contains up to 30% THC and has a fruity floral taste. It's a blend of OG Kush and Strawberry Diesel.
Three types of marijuana trichomes
There are three types of trichomes on weed: bulbous, capitate sessile, and capitate-stalked.
Bulbous trichomes are tiny hairs that you only see through a microscope. To put it into perspective, they’re seven times thinner than human hair.
Capitate sessile trichomes are slightly larger at about half the size of human hair. They look more like little mushrooms with a large head and short stem.
You can see capitate-stalked weed trichomes without microscopes. They look like frosted snow on cannabis plants and have long stems with a spherical gland on top.
Cannabis glandular trichomes vs. non-glandular trichomes
Trichomes mainly develop on the plant's stems and leaves in glandular and non-glandular forms.
Glandular trichomes fall into secretory and nonsecretory categories. They come from the epidermis of your plant’s reproductive parts. Glandular trichomes create essential oils, which give cannabis strains their distinct aroma and taste.
Glandular weed trichomes secrete resin and secondary metabolites, which are vital to the plant. They produce terpenes and cannabinoids.
Non-glandular trichomes don't produce gland heads and look like little hairs instead of mushrooms. They don't create cannabinoids or terpenes. Instead, they protect marijuana by boosting its defense mechanism.
These cannabis trichomes guard the buds against stress, the sun, high temperatures, extreme humidity, and pathogens.
In many cases, trichomes are a natural defense mechanism for the plant since they tend to have a bitter taste toward predators. However, when dried the correct way, they add delicious flavors.
Benefits of cannabis trichomes to your cannabis plant
We love cannabis trichomes because they provide our buds with cannabinoids and flavor. These hairs serve more purpose than that. They’re also beneficial to your maturing crops.
Trichomes are a natural defense against predators. Without curing the marijuana, you don't get any of the effects, and the flavor is very bitter. Animals don't want to eat them, and the crops can prosper.
THC and CBD protect the plants from ultraviolet radiation and act as a natural sunscreen. The marijuana crops use the rays for photosynthesis but don't undergo any harm. The DNA isn't damaged by the sun, and the cannabis can live without deformities.
CBGA and THCA, uncured cannabinoids, are poisonous to insects. They won't attack marijuana crops thanks to the cannabis trichomes. The only real threat to weed plants is humans because we’ve discovered how to consume them properly.
Some of the best-tasting cannabis comes from Gorilla Glue #4 x Zkittles feminized seeds. These buds have the flavor of sweet sugary candy mixed with chocolate and grapes. You get a slight earthiness, which balances the taste.
Why are trichomes important to cannabis growers?
Weed trichomes have many benefits for consumers and cultivators.
These tiny hairs create cannabinoids and terpenes. These compounds give us potent and flavorful harvests that make us want to consume them. Each strain has a distinct profile of trichomes, making it unique.
Trichomes on weed also offer a natural defense system. They protect the crops from animals, insects, and the sun.
How to boost trichome production
You're probably wondering how to increase trichome production during your next harvest. Cultivators can elevate glandular weed trichomes in a few ways.
One method of increasing trichome production is stress training. High-stress training includes pruning, main-lining, and super cropping.
Low stress involves Screen of Green, Sea of Green, or bending. The added stress ramps up the hormones within the plant and distributes them more equally.
Investing in high-quality grow lights is another way to boost marijuana trichomes. Photosynthesis is essential for developing these hairs, so proper lamps are vital.
Before harvesting your cannabis plants, give them complete darkness for 24 to 48 hours. It allows the trichomes to use up the last of their nutrients and develop fully. Lowering your grow room temperature and humidity in the last two weeks also helps with trichome production.
Try these techniques with Northern Lights feminized seeds. This strain has sweet pine flavors with notes of spice and herbs. The trichomes on these crops make it look like it just snowed in your grow room. It's an indica-leaning cultivar that creates a blissful and peaceful buzz.
A final look at trichomes on weed
Cannabis trichomes are essential for harvesting consumable marijuana. Humans wouldn't want to smoke this magical plant without these small yet significant hairs.
We can thank trichomes for each strain's glorious THC and CBD levels. Also, a standing ovation for the production of the delectable terpenes—we can't get enough of them. Trichomes also serve as a defense mechanism, are toxic to insects, and offer protection from the sun.
Do you want to grow your own cannabis seeds and witness the production of beautiful marijuana trichomes? Purchase your weed seeds online from SeedSupreme for the highest trichome production.