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What Are Trichomes?

Ever notice how sometimes your weed has a sparkle to it?

You can thank the trichomes for that.

This is where the vast majority of the active THC is found, and one of the key indicators of high-quality bud.

Article By
Daily CBD , last updated on March 23, 2022

Trichomes do more than just give cannabis its psychoactive effects, they’re also the source of most of the terpenes and provide cannabis with its delicious flavor. 

Here’s what you need to know about what trichomes are, why they’re important, and how to preserve them as long as possible.

Illustration of a magnifying glass over cannabis flower

What Are Trichomes?

In simple terms, trichomes are the fuzzy, crystal-like dots you can see on marijuana buds you’ve just picked up from the dispensary. Fresh marijuana often looks shiny, feels sticky, and smells super strong.

But it isn’t the bud itself that’s causing it — it’s the trichomes, which produce the terpenes, flavonoids, and cannabinoids, that make weed taste, smell, and feel good [1].

Scientifically speaking, trichomes are small and microscopic appendages that grow like hairs on cannabis flowers — and on lots of other plants. Trichomes have tons of different purposes depending on the plant. 

For cannabis, trichomes mainly offer protective effects. 

Their bitter taste may keep animals from eating the flower that’s trying to grow, and the layer of protection may keep UV rays from burning the plant. Trichomes may also work to prevent too much moisture buildup in the buds that can allow fungi to grow.

Trichomes are incredibly important to our enjoyment of marijuana. Have you ever smoked super old, dry weed and felt like you didn’t really get high? That’s because most of the bud’s trichomes had probably been broken off.

If you’re following, that means you want to catch those knocked-off trichomes since they are bound to fall off eventually. More on that later.

Types of Trichomes

There are three main types of glandular trichomes, which are the trichomes on cannabis that produce terpenes and cannabinoids and are ultimately responsible for the plant’s psychoactivity.

1. Bulbous Trichomes

Bulbous trichomes are the smallest type. They’re microscopic, and you can find them on buds, stems, and other areas of the cannabis plant.

2. Sessile Trichomes

Sessile trichomes have a head and a stalk, so they appear like microscopic mushrooms. There are more of them than bulbous trichomes.

3. Stalked Trichomes

Stalked trichomes are the largest and most prolific type. You can see them with the naked eye, and they also look like tiny mushrooms. It’s primarily in stalked trichomes that cannabinoids and terpenes are produced.

Why Are Trichomes Important?

Trichomes are the main reason that marijuana tastes, smells, and, most importantly, feels good. Trichomes produce cannabinoids like THC and CBD, which provide psychoactive and/or medicinal effects.

Stalked trichomes were found in a study to correlate with high cannabinoid levels, as well as the production of terpenes and CBDA synthase, which is the precursor to CBD [1]. Glandular trichomes, in general, have been shown to synthesize and accumulate the cannabinoids in cannabis [2].

Trichomes are also responsible for terpenoids and flavonoids, the two types of compounds that give plants a smell and taste [3].

Put simply, without trichomes; you’d be left with flavorless, odorless weed that doesn’t get you high, offer therapeutic benefits, or anything else you associate with smoking weed. The experience of cannabis is due almost entirely to trichomes.

Benefits of Trichomes

The benefits of trichomes are essentially the same as any other benefits of cannabis since trichomes are imperative to getting cannabinoids into your flower. Even if you prefer to take your CBD or THC orally, those products are extracted from flowers rich in trichomes.

Cannabis has numerous benefits, including improving sleep, lowering anxiety, reducing inflammation, and elevating your mood. No matter what form of cannabis you use, trichomes have worked hard to make sure those cannabinoids reach you.

How To Preserve The Trichomes on Your Marijuana Buds

So if trichomes are so important, how can you make them last as long as possible?

It’s no secret that old marijuana tends to lose its good taste and smell, and some say it loses potency, too. That’s because many of the trichomes have fallen off.

If you catch them, though, you can still smoke them! That’s where a kief catcher comes in. Kief is essentially just a collection of dusted-off trichomes, which is why it gets you super high. You can buy a grinder with a kief catcher so that each time you knock trichomes off your weed, you’re catching them to use for later.

Some say that putting your grinder in the freezer right after using it will help shake extra trichomes into your kief catcher, but this is tough to confirm.

It’s also important that you store your weed properly in order to keep trichomes for as long as you can. Always keep weed in an airtight container, ideally with moisture packets inside. Keep it out of the direct sun, too.

Trichomes stick to the plant because they’re, well, sticky. So, if you keep your flower fresh, your trichomes will stay fresh, too.

Another great way to get more out of trichomes is by vaping your flower or using hemp wick. When you hit a freshly packed bowl with a large lighter, you’re probably burning off lots of trichomes that you aren’t smoking in that hit. 

Instead, try vaping your flower, so none of the trichomes burn off without you smoking them. Alternatively, you can use a hemp wick to get a more precise burn on your weed and waste less.

Any smoking method that involves less direct contact between the bud and fire will preserve more trichomes for you to enjoy.

How to Use Kief

Kief is one of the best parts about smoking flowers, but it’s a powerful thing that can be easily misused. As discussed, kief is the trichome-rich dust that shakes off of flowers as you grind them. It’s recommended that you gather lots of kief before you use it.

Keep in mind that kief is generally stronger than weed—sometimes it’s even stronger than the buds it came from.

Once you’ve gathered enough to scoop, you can use kief to make firecrackers (a low-hassle edible you can make in the microwave). You can roll a joint in kief or add a line of kief to the inside of your joint when you roll it. Kief can also be used to top off a pipe or bong bowl, as well as any vaporizer or volcano.

Summary: What Are Trichomes?

Trichomes are microscopic appendages on plants. The trichomes on Cannabis sativa flower give it its psychoactivity, taste, smell, and therapeutic benefits. 

Trichomes produce terpenes, flavonoids, and cannabinoids, which make weed smell, taste, and feel good. 

You can make the most of the trichomes on your flower by storing your weed properly, using a kief catcher, and knowing how to use it on kief day.


  1. Livingston, S. J., Quilichini, T. D., Booth, J. K., Wong, D. C., Rensing, K. H., Laflamme, Yonkman, J., … & Samuels, A. L. (2020). Cannabis glandular trichomes alter morphology and metabolite content during flower maturation. The Plant Journal, 101(1), 37-56.
  2. Wang, X., Shen, C., Meng, P., Tan, G., & Lv, L. (2021). Analysis and review of trichomes in plants. BMC plant biology, 21(1), 1-11.
  3. Wagner, G. J., Wang, E., & Shepherd, R. (2004). New approaches for studying and exploiting an old protuberance, the plant trichome. Annals of botany, 93(1), 3.

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