Trichomes: A Look Inside These Amazing THC Factories

What characteristics of marijuana do you most enjoy? Whether you love its aroma, its flavor, or its psychological effects, the chances are that what you love is derived from one tiny part of the cannabis plants: trichomes.

If you’ve never heard of trichomes before, you might be more familiar with kief, which is a collection of trichomes which have been separated from, or hash, which is kief that has been heated and pressed together.

If you love marijuana, you owe a debt of gratitude to trichomes. Let’s take a closer look at what they are and what they do.

What Are Trichomes?

The word trichome is derived from the Greek “trichoma” which means hair. Trichomes are the tiny outgrowths that you can find on cannabis. However, trichomes are not unique to cannabis plants as they are found on various other plants, algae, lichens, and some protists. However, cannabis trichomes are unique in that they are the factories where the cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids that give marijuana its unique properties are produced.

Cannabis trichomes fall into one of three different categories:

  • Bulbous Trichomes: The smallest of the 3, these trichomes are found all over the surface of the plant from the flowers to the sugar leaves. They can be nearly impossible to see with the naked eye but if grouped up enough, present a frosty look. These trichomes tend to be 10-15 micrometers wide which is smaller than the width of human hair. That means that each of these trichomes only consists of a few cells. 
  • Capitate Sessile Trichomes: These are “medium sized” trichomes and feature a stalk and a head. However, they are not as large and do not produce as many cannabinoids as the largest trichomes.
  • Capitate-Stalked Trichomes: These are anywhere from 50-100 millimeters wide and feature a large gland head and a stalk. The heads of capitate-stalked trichomes are where the magic really happens. These are the little factories that produce the bulk of the cannabinoids and terpenes that give cannabis strains their unique qualities and properties. You can also use these trichomes to judge when marijuana is ready to be harvested as they turn from clear to a milky white.

Why Does Cannabis Have Trichomes?

It is widely believed that trichomes developed on cannabis plants as a defense mechanism. The bitterness of trichomes act as a deterrent to animals that would try and eat the cannabis plant. Trichomes are larger and denser on cannabis’ flowers which helps to keep these more important parts of the plant from being eaten.

It is also possible that trichomes help to protect cannabis plants from a variety of other dangers. Some suppose that trichomes help to prevent certain types of fungi from being able to grow on marijuana in addition to helping protect from UV rays and even high wind gusts.

Because of its concentrated levels of THC, terpenes, and cannabinoids, many pot enthusiasts want to separate trichomes from their bud. There is no easier way to achieve this than by using a high-quality kief tumbler such as the Kief Thief.

Our extractor gently removes trichomes without the use of any nasty solvents. Check it out for yourself!