When it comes to cannabis, there a bit more than meets the eye. If you fancy the flower, at some point in time you have probably asked yourself about those tiny little crystals that cover the buds of your favorite strains. They tend to be shiny, sticky, and always carry the most amazing aromas. Upon looking closer, however, these blankets of frost appear to be large collections of what are known as trichomes.
The actual definition of trichome is “fine outgrowths or appendages on plants, algae, lichens, and certain protists.” Originating from the Greek word “Tríchōma,” meaning “growth of hair,” these tiny microscopic mushroom-looking protuberances look like something out of a science fiction novel. But they are actually the very factories that produce the hundreds of known,terpenes, and flavonoids that make our favorite cannabis strains potent, unique, and effective.
Trichomes exist in many shapes and sizes, but there are three that appear most often on cannabis plants.
Bulbous trichomes are the smallest of the bunch, and they appear on the surface of the entire plant. Bulbous trichomes are as small as 10-15 micrometers, which is tiny enough to only be comprised of a handful of cells.
Capitate sessile trichomes are slightly larger and contain both a head and a stalk. These trichomes are quite a bit more abundant than their bulbous brethren, but cannot hold a candle to the bountifulness and size of the third trichome variety.
Capitate-stalked trichomes range from anywhere between 50-100mcm wide, meaning they’re much larger and can actually be seen by the naked eye. Their structure consists of a stack comprised of epidermal and hypodermic feels that build up to a basal cell which attaches to a large gland head. This gland head, held together by a waxy cuticle layer, serves as the epicenter for cannabinoid and terpenoid synthesis.