Trichomes of cannabis
Many people know that cannabis has trichomes, but what they are and why they are needed at all is still a mystery to some.
What are trichomes?
Trichomes are cannabis glands which produce resin. They are divided into three kinds:
Bulbous. They are the smallest, not exceeding 20-50 microns in size. They consist of a “base”, a “stalk” (1-4 cells) and a “head” (up to 4 cells). It is the head that produces the resin, with cannabinoids and similar substances accumulating between the cuticle and the head cells. When the gland matures, a papillary outgrowth can form on it due to pressure on the membrane by the accumulating resin. Such bulbous trichomes are located throughout the above-ground parts of the plant.
Headless cell glands are much larger than bulb glands – 15-25 microns in length. Their head looks like a ball or rose of 8 (sometimes 9-16) cells, and while the plant is not mature, they are located directly on the green part of the plant and do not have a stalk at first glance. Actually, there is a stalk, but it consists of a single cell. These glands definitely produce cannabinoids and related elements. They accumulate between the stalk and the outer shell of the trichome, making it look like a ball.
The cephalic-cervical glands are the largest, 150-500 microns in height. They are the richest in cannabinoids. Structurally, they are a non-cellular secretory cavity, which is surrounded by a chain of disc secretory cells. The glands take this form on the inflorescences during cannabis flowering. Most of them are on the bract, the leaves covering the female flowers. Sometimes they are found on the sepals of male plants.
Why do plants need trichomes?
Trichomes have several functions. Plants developed these glands in the course of evolution to survive, thinking nothing of the fact that people will adapt the secretion of glands to their needs. The primary function of trichomes is defense. Specifically:
Protecting marijuana from pests. The thick layer of trichomes does not attract insects and protects future seeds.
Protection from herbivores. Along with cystolith hairs, trichomes are unpleasant and little edible to omnivores and herbivores.
Protection against desiccation. Trichomes prevent moisture evaporation, preserving the seeds.
UV protection. The cannabinoid THC in the resin of trichomes absorbs UV rays. In the course of evolution, those plants survived in which the concentration of THC was high enough to protect them.
Protection against mold. The substances found in trichomes inhibit the formation of certain types of this plant scourge.
The concentration of THC and other psychoactive cannabinoids is another important thing for humans, and not important for the plant.
Does trichomyces mean homicidal?
Are the number of trichomes and the potency of the variety related? Research shows that there is no direct correlation.
The trichome count is not necessarily indicative of the killing power of a particular strain. Some varieties cannot boast of an abundance of trichomes, but will knock you down without fail. Of course, often the thickest layer is also the strongest, but there are exceptions, because power only depends on how much THC and other psychoactive substances the plant can produce.
Also, not only do you need a thick layer of trichomes and resin, but you also need the right timing of the harvest to get the desired effect for growers. The main ones in these matters are the cephalic-cell trichomes, since they account for the lion’s share of THC, THCV, CBD, CBN, etc. production. The first thing that indicates the timing of harvest is the change in color. If at the beginning of the flowering/ripening period, the trichomes appear transparent even to the naked eye, then they begin to turn cloudy. The milky white color changes to yellow and reddish amber and then to dark brown.
The surest time to harvest cannabis is when the trichomes are cloudy white but not yet dark. This, though, is a strictly individual matter. There is an opinion among growers that the lighter the trichomes, the more invigorating, upbeat, and euphoric the effect of the cultivar will be. Correspondingly, the darker the trichomes, the more relaxing and calming the effect will be.