What Are Trichomes?
Trichomes are the coveted sparkling resin glands that coat the sticky-ickiest of marijuana buds in abundance. Their glistening appearance inspires names such as White Widow, Crystal Coma, and Snow White. Cannabis connoisseurs have good reason for seeking out trichome-packed strains; those happy little resin glands are where the action is. Trichomes are responsible for the production of all of the cannabinoids and terpenes the plant contains, so whether you enjoy cannabis for the high, the medical benefits, the symphony of aromas and flavors, or all of the above, trichomes are a key factor in your experience.
Not all trichomes are alike.
Trichomes come in three varieties and are classified by their height and structure. The smallest, called bulbous trichomes, tightly hug the surface of the plant material. Capitate-sessile trichomes (those with heads not mounted on a substantial stalk) are more abundant than the bulbous variety. During flowering, the stalks of many of the glands elongate to produce capitate-stalked trichomes that tower over the rest and produce the highest concentration of cannabinoids. Check out this link to take a close-up look at the three different types of trichomes (bulbous indicated by the yellow arrow, capitate-sessile by the blue, and captiate-stalked by the red). http://www.cannabisculture.com/files/images/bubblearrow.jpg
Trichomes help growers know when it’s harvest time.
The appearance of the stalked trichomes is the best indication to marijuana growers of when their plants are ready to harvest. Trichomes start out transparent, although in some strains, they do appear to have a yellowish or amber color rather than being completely clear. (Yellow trichomes generally indicate higher CBD levels.) They remain transparent while the glands are actively engaged in the biosynthesis of cannabinoids (the process of converting CBGA into the various other cannabinoids, including THC and CBD) and begin to turn cloudy and then amber as cannabinoid production tapers off.
Different growers prefer harvesting at different moments in this process.
- Some harvest when the trichomes are fully developed but still translucent, producing a more stimulating high by preventing the degradation of THC into CBN, which produces cannabis’s sleepier “couch lock” effects. Because indica strains tend to be stonier and less stimulating than sativas, many cultivators will choose to harvest indicas at this stage.
- Waiting until the heads of the resin glands turn milky ensures that the plant is done producing THC, so growers will often wait until they see this to ensure they aren’t limiting their bud’s THC content.
- When about 30% of the heads have turned amber is a popular time to harvest sativa strains and material intended for hash making.
Hashish = trichomes.
Although they are more difficult to identify in the darker and more pressed varieties, hash and kief are basically just trichomes that have been removed from the plant in one way or another.
- The ancient method is to rub the hands together as resin sticks to them during the cannabis harvest, creating a ball of sticky, pressed trichomes called charas.
- Many cannabis lovers today collect kief simply and easily in a grinder equipped with a screen that allows loose trichomes to fall through into a collection chamber.
- Those willing to dedicate more time and energy into creating high-quality hash often use the bubble hash (also called ice water hash) method. Buds and trim are submerged in ice water to make the trichomes break off easily, then the mixture is passed through a series of screens to filter out the leaf material, leaving only the lovely trichomes, as you can see.
Another popular way to separate the cannabinoid-rich resin from the plant is to simmer it in oil and make tasty edibles. Check out our handy free guide for all the information you need to make delicious, effective, and specifically-dosed marijuana edibles at home.
"Tosh Valley charas" by Atonedstonedsparrow at en.wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by User:Bigsus using CommonsHelper.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tosh_Valley_charas.jpg#/media/File:Tosh_Valley_charas.jpg
By Derrylwc [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/63/Kush-trichome-closeup.jpg
By Mjpresson (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0c/American_medical_hashish%283%29.jpg