By: Laine Hammer & Cyrus Sepahbodi

So, what’s a trichome?

Trichomes are the fruit of the cannabis flower – tiny, crystal-like hairs on the cannabis plant and flowers. Trichomes produce some amazing aromas and vital healing properties because that’s where the plant’s cannabinoids and terpenes are concentrated. If you’ve looked at a cannabis flower from afar you’ve probably noticed that faint blanket of white dust that is covering the buds—those are the trichomes! When put under a microscope, it isn’t dust at all but in fact fine hairs of resin filled with cannabinoids and terpenes. The true magic behind the plant lives right on its surface

Where are trichomes located on cannabis? Why are they important?

The sticky, shiny trichomes are located on cannabis flowers, leaves, and even the stalk of the cannabis plant. It is important to note that trichomes are actually a defense mechanism of the plant to ward off insects and animals from interfering with the growing process. Most people think that the vital qualities of cannabis are located in the leaves, but trichomes are in fact where the cannabinoids and terpenes (remember that wonderful aroma?) are actually located. Under a microscope you can clearly identify trichomes by their size and location.

Types of trichomes

Bulbous trichomes

The smallest of the trichome family. Though they may be small (10-15 micrometers!), they cover the entire surface of the cannabis plant.

Capitate sessile trichomes

A bit larger than bulbous trichomes (25-100 micrometers) and contain both a head and a stalk. Not only are they larger, but there are more of them on the plant than the bulbous trichomes.

Capitate-stalked trichomes

These trichomes consist of a stalk and a waxy head, and is the largest of the trichome variants (50-500 micrometers) – the only one you can see with the naked eye! The Capitate-stalked trichome is the one that most cannabis growers are looking for when harvesting a crop because they produce the highest concentrations of the plant’s unique chemical compounds.

Pictured above is a microscopic view of what trichomes really look like. Notice how they look more like fine hairs than dust. 

Trichomes create cannabinoids and terpenes

Do trichomes have THC?

They do! In fact, trichomes are harvested for this exact reason. They hold the compounds – cannabinoids and terpenes – that are responsible for cannabis’ effect. Trichomes may be miniscule, but they are the reason cannabis works its plant magic so well.

Do trichomes get you high?

The trichomes themselves house THC, CBD, and the other healing cannabinoids. It is the THC within the trichome heads that cause intoxicating effects.

How are cannabis trichomes used?

How trichomes are cultivated is key to understanding how they are useful. In some cases, we use trichomes to create kief through a solventless process. Kief is the accumulation of dried and cured cannabis trichomes after being tumbled or sifted. After we tumble and sift it to shake off the trichomes, we collect the kief and press it with heated plates to get rosin – resulting in a concentrated oil that is golden and sap-like. We use rosin in several of our products, most notably in our Releaf Repair Cream and Releaf Body Lotion.

Trichomes and whole plant infusion

Trichomes play an important role in cannabis wellness, but there are other aspects of the plant that are just as important. That is why Papa & Barkley focuses on our whole plant philosophy. Using the whole plant in every one of our formulations ensures that we provide people with the full spectrum of the plant, not just isolate and distillate cannabinoids. Our whole-plant process allows us to get the full spectrum of cannabinoids, terpenes, phytonutrients, and other plant matter from the cannabis plant. This is important because the Endocannabinoid system (ECS) accepts more than just THC and CBD.

Trichomes, the ECS, and the Entourage Effect

The ECS can accept the full range of cannabinoids that the plant has to offer. It is also vital to use the whole plant, whether in topicals or ingestibles, because the full spectrum is most effective in our bodies. This is called the entourage effect. The Entourage effect is when THC and other compounds found in cannabis aka terpenes and cannabinoids work synergistically in your body to provide the desired effect.

While we all have varying desired effects from cannabis usage – whether it be stress reduction, whole body comfort, or skin conditions – trichomes are a key player in cannabis wellness and helps us feel better every day.