Grow Q&A: Trichomes

Dear Dan, I’m a newby to the pot world but I love to smoke and I hope to grow someday soon. I want to learn everything there is to know about marijuana but, like I said, I’m a total newcomer to the scene with very little knowledge aside from what I’ve read on the internet and in a couple of High Times Magazines.
I keep hearing the word trichome (trichrome?) but I don’t really understand what it means. Some people say it’s the stuff that makes my buds shiny and some people say it’s an oil gland on the plants. I’ve also heard that they are related to harvesting somehow. I figured I would go directly to the source and ask an expert. – Tri Curious

Dear Tri,
Glandular trichomes are tiny outgrowths that form on some plants as resinous secretions with a variety of functions including plant defense from pests, animals or excessive sunlight. Trichomes on marijuana plants form primarily on the flowers (although they also appear on the leaves and stems) and contain the essential oils that get us “high”; the active ingredients in cannabis – Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), and other cannabinoids and terpenes. So, indeed they are what make your buds shiny, but a closer look reveals much more about these most important parts of our pot.

Resembling tiny glass mushrooms, trichomes have a stalk and a head. The head becomes more bulbous as the trichome develops. Eventually, the oils within the gland heads begin to turn cloudy and eventually become amber. This is how they are related to harvest: most people take their plants down to trim and dry when the trichomes are mostly cloudy and not entirely amber. If trichomes on your buds are still clear, that’s an indication that the plant was harvested prematurely and prior to peak ripening.

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