Disclaimer: My Rationale for Understanding the Science
Not everyone loves learning the scientific specifics, but lucky for you I do. And what I like to do with this information is gather it up, trim the fat, translate the jargon, and present it to you. Everything I explain has a point. I want you to experience an Informed High. I want to help create informed consumers making informed decisions.
What Are Trichomes?
Trichomes are little glands that secrete an important substance in the Cannabis plant. They are located in the bud, which is an outgrowth that becomes flowers, leaves, or shoots. Across plants, trichomes are small outgrowths from the surface of a plant, usually unicellular and glandular. Trichomes are glands that produce resin which is then secreted onto the surface of the plant. This secretion involves a mix of Cannabinoids and Terpenes.
Trichomes and Secondary Metabolites
Trichomes cover the leaves, bracts, and stems of the Cannabis plant. The resinous secretion is considered to be a secondary metabolite. Secondary metabolites are organic compounds not directly related to the normal growth, development, or reproduction of a plant. There are Trichomes on the Cannabis plant that do not produce resin or cannabinoids. This variety is longer and hairlike, protecting surfaces like the underside of leaves and stems. The Bulbous Trichome is the smallest variety, which secretes a cannabinoid-rich resin in the shape of a sphere.
The resin secreted by Trichomes serves defensive functions in the Cannabis plant. The secretion protects the bud in hot climates, defending against low humidity, strong winds, and UVB rays. This is why outdoor plants are grown in hot climates. Hotter temperatures produce more of the psychoactive resin. The resin also provides an offensive surface for insects and mites, makes the plant less palatable for animals, and inhibits the growth of some types of fungi.
Appearance, Maturity, and Production
These resinous glands that look like tiny crystals to the naked eye. They start off clear, turning a translucent milky white as they mature. The Cannabinoid concentration is highest in these mature secreting glands. After this point, Trichomes darken to amber. The secretory phases change along with these colour changes. Beyond this, they may turn yellow or brown.
To Fertilize Or Not To Fertilize?
When a female Cannabis plant is fertilized by a male Cannabis plant, these trichomes will produce less resin and focus energy on seed creation. This is one of the reasons why grow operations use all female plants, so no energy is wasted on seeds that could be used on the trichomes and resin production. Growing facilities will clone female plants and ensure no male plants are present to ensure maximum committment towards developing this Cannabinoid and Terpene rich secretion.
If a Cannabis plant is harvest early, the potency is limited overall, but the weed is said to offer a more cerebral and soaring high. Later, when trichomes have turned amber, the potency or yield is higher but more induces a more sedative stoned sensation. When potency is high, Trichomes are responible for half of the THC found in the Cannabis plant.
Role of Terpenes and Enzymes
The Cannabinoids produced by Trichomes depend on the functions of terpenes. The Cannabinoid THCA accumulates on the heads (glands) through the action of the associated THCA enzyme, THCAS. The role of Terpenes in the creation of Cannabinoids inside Trichomes is a topic for another day.