What are cannabis trichomes?

Published Jan 29, 2019 02:34 p.m. ET

When using cannabis, several different chemical components are responsible for delivering the “high” that most users seek. One of them is Trichomes. Cannabis Trichomes are the almost microscopic hairs that are produced by marijuana plants and are responsible for creating most known flavors, terpenes, and cannabinoids that make every cannabis plant unique and effective.

Why do cannabis trichomes exist, and what do they do?

While your average grower likely knows that trichomes exist, how much they truly know about how they form and why they exist is probably quite limited. Among stoners who don’t grow, Trichomes are almost never discussed even though they are the most significant contributor to the smell, taste, and effects of some of our favorite strains.  Trichomes exist because they are beneficial to the plants that they grow on. Trichomes protect the plants against predators, pathogens, and UV light rays by creating a protective barrier around the “fruit” of the plant. They are responsible for the strong pungent smell weed is usually known for. To most pests that smell represents trouble and they avoid it. Trichomes are not exclusively in cannabis and can also be found in other plants such as mint, pineapple, sea buckthorn, and Rhododendron.

Strains with the most trichomes

So which strains have the most Trichomes? To understand the answer to this question you need to delve a little deeper into just how Trichomes are produced. Genetics play a big part in the level of Trichomes grown by each plant. Other factors such as the amount of light, watering, nutrients and overall health of the cannabis plant will heavily affect each plant yield as well. Though trichomes are not necessarily a good predictor of a plant’s potency, they can certainly help make not only the look but also the effects of your plant more appealing. White Widow is an incredibly popular strain and tends to yield some of the most trichomes. The best way to compare different buds and their trichomes are under a THC microscope, as most of them are far too small to see with the human eye.

How to check the potency of the trichomes in your weed

To do this, you will need a THC microscope. You can generally find one for under $20 that should do the trick. To know what to look for you must understand that there are four different stages to trichome development. The first is completely clear. If your trichomes are entirely transparent, then the plant hasn’t fully matured yet. You can still choose to go ahead and harvest a plant at this stage but, it will be at the lowest stage of potency. The second stage is described as cloudy, or milky. If a plant is harvested at this stage, the results will be the best of both worlds, both potent but still energetic.  The third stage is half amber and half cloudy. The effects of the third stage are considered to be intense, but not quite melt you to your couch material. The fourth stage is the amber stage. Harvesting a plant when the trichomes appear an amber or orange-yellow color will be the most active stage. Once you see this one your plant is as mature as it will get. The effects of the amber stage are the most intense and pleasure-inducing of the four stages.

While there is plenty more one could learn about trichomes, these are the solid basics every stoner should know to start. Just remember. Stronger isn't always better. Some people prefer a lighter more energetic buzz. If you are wondering which microscope to try, we suggest buying according to how you wish to use it. For beginners, something for only $20 may be sufficient. For growers looking to invest in a tool to help with yields, you may want to try a slightly higher quality one that sells for around $144.99 these are the best quality microscopes under $200 we could find.


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