Trichomes resembele tiny little crystal-like hairs that are seen on the surface of cannabis plants. Trichomes are responsible for producing the cannabinoids and terpenes. They contain a crystal-like appearance and will also look sugary. If you touch a plant that is covered in trichomes, your hands will most likely be sticky afterwards.
Trichomes are also known to be found on the stems and leaves of the cannabis plant. They contain little resin glands that produce terpenes, CBDA, and THCA. The actual purpose of the trichomes are to act as deterrents to insects, predators, pests, and other stresses of environmental nature. They also provide the plant with surface-level humidity to ensure that it won’t dry out.
There are two known classes of trichomes. Glandular, which are the only ones that produce cannabinoids, and nonglandular, which are also known as cystoliths and their purpose is as a defense mechanism against tiny insects. Through a process called biosynthesis, cannabinoids are created in the trichome cells of the plant. Cannabis biosynthesis is comprised of binding, prenylation, and cyclization.
Enzymes will bind to one or two tiny molecules known as substrates and attach these molecules to each other before passing the substrate through a type of assembly line to the next enzyme that will process it. These enzymes have the purpose of producing the main cannabinoids of cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) synthase, cannabichromenic acid (CBCA) synthase, and tetrahydrocannabinolic (THCA) synthase.
When the cannabinoids are altered through decarboxylation, they drop a carbon atom and two oxygen atoms and then release CO2 through heat or long exposure to environmental conditions. THCA and CBDA decarboxylate into THC, and THC is what causes the intoxicating effects.
Use of Term
The cannabis plants I purchased today were completely coated in trichomes. It almost looked like they were just covered in sugar.