top of page

What Are Trichomes and Their Role Within Cannabis Plants?


What Are Trichomes and Their Role Within Cannabis Plants

The more time you spend with cannabis, the more you start to realize certain little things about their appearance. Every bud looks different, with some flowers deemed more attractive or quality than others, but one thing they all have in common is trichomes!


Tri-what? You have to look really close at your marijuana plants in order to see these microscopic structures. If you can’t spot them on your marijuana, don’t worry. You can probably feel them! Trichomes are what make your bud give off that sticky feeling when you touch them. But trichomes are more than just a sticky coating; they also have an important role in the function of the cannabis plant!


You might be wondering how something so small can have such a huge role, or maybe if there are different kinds of trichomes for different strains. They may be microscopic, but there is a lot to learn about trichomes and why they exist on cannabis. So, we’re going to dive in and talk about everything you need to know about trichomes on cannabis.


What are trichomes?


Let’s start with the basics and discuss the actual definition of trichomes! The word trichome has a Greek origin which translates to “growth of hair” in English. If you were looking through a microscope, you’d be able to see these tiny hairs on cannabis with a round tip. But if you’re just looking with your own eyes, you’ll see them as a shiny crystal-like coating. Trichomes are more than just decoration. They are actually small resin glands that are meant to protect the cannabis and other plants. Yes, you can find them on other plants, too!


The trichomes’ sticky feel comes from the oil inside, which is released when the trichomes are broken. That being said, marijuana growers need to be careful not to damage trichomes during the flowering stage. Trichomes have a special role to play, and they need to be intact to fulfill this role.


Within the trichomes are cannabinoids, which help to provide many of the benefits of cannabis use. Trichomes also contain terpenes (fragrant oils) that give the marijuana characteristics, such as their smell and flavor. The dank aroma and good feelings you get from smoking a bowl? You can thank trichomes for that!

Kinds of Trichomes

Kinds of Trichomes


Let’s talk about the three types of trichomes found in cannabis that contain THC and other cannabinoids.


Bulbous: Bulbous trichomes are extremely small and unlikely to be visible to the naked eye. You can find these throughout the surface of the entire plant. As the smallest type of trichome, they measure around 10-30 micrometers in length. As for their makeup, bulbous trichomes individually contain cells and a resin gland.


Capitate Sessilee: Compared to bulbous trichomes, the capitate-sessile variety is larger, with a length that typically measures around 20 to 100 micrometers. They contain more cannabinoids than other types of trichomes and are the most common trichome found on the cannabis plant. This trichome is made up of a single-cell stalk and a larger gland containing multiple cells.


Capitate-Stalked: This is the largest kind of trichome found on marijuana plants and is more noticeable when casually looking at your plant. These trichomes range in the width of 50-100 micrometers wide, with a prominent stalk and resin gland at the trichome’s head. Within the resin glands, you will find plenty of cannabinoids and compounds that mainly provide the beneficial effects of marijuana.


Is one better than the other? It’s safe to say that capitate-stalked trichomes are the most valued type due to their high concentration of beneficial compounds. When harvesting, capitate-stalked trichomes are the typical desire of marijuana growers.


What is the function of trichomes?


As we mentioned earlier, trichomes are found on more than just cannabis plants. They have a special purpose of protecting the health & safety of plant growth. When it comes to their function within cannabis plants, trichomes also help defend the plant during the growing process.


Trichomes can protect against insects, animals, fungus, and other pests that could potentially harm the plant by warding them off with a strong aroma and bitter taste. They also maintain the plant’s safety and growth in humid environments or around UV rays.


Trichomes are also essential in the process because they help growers indicate whether or not they are ready for harvest. Less mature trichomes will appear clear, and trichomes with a more prominent appearance (cloudy, opaque, dark color, etc.) are well-developed.