To close out another week, lets take a look at the 3rd and final trichome of our fine CBD plants.
Capitate-stalked trichomes – Range from anywhere between 50-100 micrometers wide, meaning they’re much larger and can actually be seen by the naked eye. Their structure consists of a stalk comprised of epidermal and hypodermic cells that build up to a basal cell which attaches to a large gland head. This gland head, held together by a waxy cuticle layer, serves as the epicenter for cannabinoid and terpenoid synthesis.
All three types of trichomes (two which were mentioned earlier) produce cannabinoids, though it is the capitate-stalked trichomes that will appear in abundance in and around the calyxes of budding flowers, producing the highest concentration of essential oils due to their size.
Cannabinoid synthesis within the trichome begins as cannabis plants move into their bloom phase. As they begin to produce flowers, trichomes form along the outer surface of the above-ground plant vegetation and begin to transport vacuoles and plastids from their stalk into the gland head. At this point, cells within the gland head will begin to metabolize and form precursors for what will eventually become cannabinoids.
The rate and concentration at which a cannabis plant produces trichomes will be contingent on both genetics well as some environmental factors. Though plants containing higher concentrations of trichomes don’t always produce the highest concentration of cannabinoids and/or terpenes, variables such as UV light greatly affect cannabinoid and terpene synthesis within the trichome head. Typically, plants that receive a broader spectrum of light will produce higher concentrations of cannabinoids, though in many cases these reactions will be strain-specific.
A trichome’s lifecycle largely parallels that of the cannabis plant on which it resides, making it incredibly valuable for farmers to monitor. The life of a trichome can be analogous to a parabola, where the apex represents the point at which maturation exceeds and degradation begins. For the most part, trichomes will display maturation on this parabola by changing opacity from a clear translucent state to a cloudy white and, later on, amber hue.
This transition of color within a trichome head represents its peak ripeness and farmers typically use this as a sign to harvest, as it’s the point when the trichome has reached full maturation and will begin to degrade from this point forward. It is important to understand that not all strains of cannabis are the same and some trichomes will display maturation differently. Nevertheless, trichome coloration remains the standard for determining a harvest time for most strains.