What is a Trichome? The CBD, THC, and Terpene Factories of Cannabis
Have you heard of trichomes before? The leaves and the buds typically get all the fanfare when it comes to cannabis, but in reality, it’s the trichome that’s the star of the show. The tiny crystal-like stalks that cover the buds and make them sticky hold all the power to produce cannabinoids and terpenes. That is to say, all the recreational and medicinal value that’s derived from the cannabis plant is completely dependent on the production and preservation of high quality trichomes.
These resin glands hold the THC and CBD compounds, all the delicious terpenes, and all the trace cannabinoids that make up a potent strain. This isn’t to say it’s the only place THC is found. Every part of the plant has some THC in it. Leaves have roughly 4% and you’ll often see trichomes grow not only on the buds but on surrounding leaves of some strains.
Originating from the Greek word “Tríchōma,” meaning “growth of hair,”, the definition of trichome is “fine outgrowths or appendages on plants, algae, lichens, and certain protists.”
They look like tiny translucent mushrooms, and they are found throughout the botanical world on various plants for various reasons. For example, they are often used as a trap to catch prey because of their stickiness. The cannabis plant actually uses them as a defense mechanism in the wild. In order to deter insects and animals from eating the buds, female cannabis plants’ trichomes produce terpenes, which often have bitter tastes or strong aromas that leave them unpalatable. Furthermore, they act as a shield against dust and dirt in strong winds, and work as an anti-fungal to ward off disease.
It’s important to realize that because trichomes are home to all these compounds, they are exactly what’s needed to create high quality, high potency extracts and concentrates. To put it in perspective, when you open the bottom of your grinder, the golden powder being collected is called kief. Also known as “dry sift”, it’s basically a collection of all the trichomes your grinder chopped off as you prepared your cannabis. When people make ice water hash, they are using water to chop those trichomes off the plant and collect them through sifting screens. Isolate is a process in which the extractor tries to capture a compound like CBD in its purest form. Products like CBD isolate are so important because they provide the most powerful dose of medicinal value available.
One of the reasons people have begun using more concentrates is it’s a far more effective way to preserve trichomes. Cured cannabis flower will inevitably experience some trichome degradation over time, while high quality extracts will preserve all the waxes and lipids that surround the cannabinoid and terpene molecules.
To preserve your cannabis, we highly recommend storing it in a cool, dark place away from any direct sunlight. If you need to store it for an extended period, definitely use mason jars or a vacuum sealer so you can maintain that high quality material for as long as possible.