What are Trichomes: Understanding its Importance on Cannabis

What are Trichomes

People who are new to the cannabis world would be curious about what those frosty and crystal-like things on the plants are.  They give a stunning appearance to the cannabis that is also linked to the flavor, fragrance, and effects on it. As you delve deeper into understanding this beneficial plant, you will encounter the word ‘trichomes’. 

So, what are trichomes? Here is a guide for you to understand what they are, their properties, how they benefit cannabis, and other important facts you should know. 

What Are Trichomes? 

Trichomes are defined as appendages or fine outgrowths that are often found on lichens, plants, algae, and protists. The term ‘trichome’ came from the Greek word ‘Trichoma,’ which means “growth of hair”. This refers to the microscopic mushroom-like protuberances. They are capable of producing numerous terpenes, flavonoids, and cannabinoids that are responsible for the uniqueness, effectiveness, and potency of every cannabis strain. 

Trichomes are also known as the glands that can be found on the surfaces of the cannabis sugar leaves and buds. A cannabis plant has three different kinds of trichomes. These are the following: 

  1. Bulbous Trichomes: This type is the smallest among the three trichomes. Its length only measures between 10 and 30 micrometers, thus, comprising some cells. It is characterized by a small and short gland head that looks like ‘bulbous’ every time it swells. 
  2. Capitate-Sessile Trichomes: This is the medium-sized trichome which is denser and bigger than bulbous trichome. It features round and a large head and single stalk that measures from 25 micrometers to 100 micrometers.
  3. Capitate-Stalked Trichomes: This type is the largest trichome, which measures at least 50 micrometers to 500 micrometers. They can be seen barely by the eyes. However, a magnifier works well for inspections. It can produce an extremely high concentration of terpenes, cannabinoids, and even other compounds. 

Lifecycle and Production

Synthesis in cannabinoid within trichomes starts once the plants reach the bloom phase. This means that they are already in the flower production where trichomes are formed and transform plastids and vacuoles from the stalk to the gland head. 

The concentration and rate being produced by cannabis plants for trichomes have something to do with environmental and genetic factors. Plants may have higher trichome concentrations; however, they cannot produce higher concentrations of terpenes and/or cannabinoids. It is because of other variables that affect terpene and cannabinoid synthesis in the trichome head like UV light. 

The color transition occurring in a trichome head is a sign that farmers check before they harvest it. Some catalysts that affect the lifecycle of trichomes include light, time, agitation or physical contact, heat, and oxygen. The key is to prevent agitation and physical contact with these flowers from preserving the plant for a longer period. Farmers should consider learning proper drying, curing, and trimming techniques to keep these trichomes viable. 

Harvesting Cannabis Plants Based on Trichome Colors 

Proper nutrients and light intensity are vital in the growth and development of cannabis plants. Even if you maintained optimal conditions and followed cannabis-growing guidelines, harvesting them at the wrong time still results in poor production. 

As mentioned earlier, the trichome colors can help farmers determine when it is best to harvest. These are the colors you should check in the outgrowths of the cannabis plant: 

  1. Clear – It suggests that buds are still developing and too young. 
  2. Translucent – This color shows an ongoing cannabinoid production, and it should not be interrupted. This also shows that the buds need more around 14 days to fatten up and produce more resin. 
  3. Milky White – When buds turn into this color, they are almost ripe. You should pay keen attention to this stage. Most pistils start to turn into dark or amber-brown color.
  4. Cloudy White – For growers who want buds to have a maximum THC potency, they can harvest at this cycle. 
  5. Cloudy White (with a slight amber shade) – At this stage, growers may get flowers with a great combination of physical and mental high. A large percentage of the trichomes must be cloudy, and the rest is amber. 
  6. Amber – This is the best harvesting stage because it has couch-locking and sedative effects. 

The whole growing process of cannabis offers great opportunities when it comes to boosting resin production. Rather than focusing on trichome-increasing techniques, you should check the health status of your plant and its environment in the entire lifecycle. The next thing to do is to know the essence and functions of trichomes. 

The Purpose or Function of Trichomes 

Just like other living things, these cannabis plants have their means of evolution. To protect themselves against threats, these plants certain defense mechanisms for survival. One of these is the trichome, which is highly effective in warding off pests and insects. 

There are two types of trichomes – the glandular and the non-glandular. The glandular trichomes refer to the flowers developed by the cannabis plant. It can secrete and store lipophilic properties like terpenes, or metabolites. These glands can work like biochemical factories that are responsible for the production substance to get resistance to some herbivorous animals, and even spawning and feeding of insects. They have a bitter taste and a strong odor that repel predators. They can also do behavior-modifying effects that work well in inhibiting pest activities. 

On the other hand, the non-glandular trichomes which are distinguished by hair-like outgrowths. They are usually present on the roots and on the leaves. This type of trichome serves as a barrier against any environmental stress. The non-glandular trichomes also serve as a protection against egg-laying and feeding activities of insects, high temperatures, light intensity, and low humidity. Furthermore, thy support mineral and water absorption. 

Trichomes For Cannabis Consumption

What are trichomes? Aside from knowing its basic definition and function, cannabis enthusiasts must learn about their essence in cannabis plants. Trichomes can hold and produce the most crucial compounds found in cannabis – terpenes, and cannabinoids. These are the resinous glands that are highly essential for the medical and recreational consumption of cannabis. Moreover, the color of the glands can also help determine when it is best to harvest. 


What are trichomes? Cannabis trichomes are remarkable because of their crucial roles in protecting the cannabis plants from any potential harm around them. At the same time, it is also commendable when it comes to manufacturing different therapeutically and medicinally beneficial compounds. The best attribute to get abundant harvest to include knowing proper plant care, being patient, and having commitment.