What Are Trichomes?

Studying plants is important for understanding other life forms, but knowing what the different parts of a plant do can be complicated to understand.

Trichomes may have been a word that you have come across before, but what are they and what do they look like?

What Are Trichomes

Trichomes are found on the outside of plants, but they can be hard to see without a microscope.

When you look at a plant under a microscope, you can see trichomes to better understand them, but how do they develop and how many different types of trichomes are there?

This article will explain more about what trichomes are so that you can have a better understanding of their development and functions.

You can also find out more about what they look like close-up under a microscope and how many different types there are. Find out more about them below!

What Are Trichomes?

Trichomes are tiny hairs that can be seen on a plant.

The hairs grow similarly to thorns as they grow outwards, but they are not as thick or spikey. They are so thin that they can only be seen through a microscope as they are very fine, so for a closer inspection, looking through a microscope is the only way that you can see them. 

Why Are Trichomes Important?

There are several different functions of trichomes, but the type of trichome depends on its function.

However, they are a very important part of the plant, but what do they do?

Absorbs Water

To absorb water, the roots of the plant need trichomes to ensure that the plant gets a sufficient amount of water to keep it healthy and alive.

Without these trichomes, the plant would not be able to survive.

The type of trichomes that are found on the roots of the plant as non-glandular trichomes, and they grow outward to absorb water from the soil. 

The non-glandular trichomes help to give the plant the minerals that it needs to survive, but they only have a thin cell wall.

This means that they cannot survive for long, which could affect the health of the plant.

New trichomes continuously form on the roots of the plant, making sure that when they die, there are new ones to keep the plant healthy and alive. 

Protect The Plants

Plants have developed over time and formed new protection mechanisms to make sure that they survive for longer, and trichomes are one of the reasons that they can survive for longer periods.

Trichomes can protect plants from both the environment and animals to make sure that the plants can live for longer. 

To protect plants from the environment, produce a thick layer around the leaves of the plant to keep it protected from different weather conditions that could damage it.

To protect the plants from animals, the trichomes produce mucus that stops insects from destroying them. The mucus traps the insects, making them unable to harm the plant.

Other Functions Of Trichomes

Trichomes are also used for other things, such as to protect buds that are developing on the plant, to protect the plants from being exposed to heat, prevent them from being exposed to too much sunlight, and to get rid of toxic substances.

Trichomes are important for making sure that the plant is protected and that nothing can harm it. 

How Do They Develop?

Trichome cells grow separately from a plant and become specialized so that they can take part in different functions within the plant.

These functions are important as without them, the plant would not be able to grow properly.

Trichomes are developed through different types of proteins in the plant, which helps them to form properly. 

Although trichome cells need to be developed properly to work, the parts of the plant where they form need to also be healthy and well-developed.

If the part of the plant that the trichomes are formed in is not healthy, ectopic trichomes can develop, which will not work properly.

This can lead to a lack of trichomes, which can affect the health of the plant. 

What Are The Different Types Of Trichomes?

There are a variety of different trichomes that exists, but what are the differences between them?

The trichomes differentiate in size, where they are found on the plant, how they function, and more, so there are various types to be aware of, but what are they?

Multicellular Glandular Trichomes

The multicellular glandular trichomes grow outwards on the plant and the cells that are found on the head of the trichomes produce mucus.

The trichomes can also store metabolites, which are needed to keep the plant healthy. 

Unicellular Glandular Trichomes

Unicellular glandular trichomes are found in different shapes and sizes, but they can also be found as being un-branched or branched.

The hairs are very fine and the differences can be seen between the trichomes as they are either found at the base or the tip of the plant. 

Non-Glandular Trichomes

Non-glandular trichomes can be grouped into sub-categories, which can be shown through their size and shape.

They can be found as either multicellular or unicellular, but they can also be found as un-branched or branched.

The branched trichomes are star-shaped, but the un-branched trichomes can be found in different shapes and sizes. 

The different types of non-glandular trichomes depend on where they are on the plant, as some can be found on the top of the leaves and others on the lower leaf side.

The different parts of the plant indicate what type of non-glandular trichomes are found there. 

Glandular Trichomes

Glandular trichomes can produce different types of substances such as mucus, nectar, water, resin, and more, which is how they can be differentiated.

Although they can be separated based on the substances that they produce, they can produce the substances in different ways. 

Secreting Trichomes

There are a wide variety of trichomes that produce mucus, which is how they can be categorized.

As many trichomes produce mucus, the way that they are divided into different categories is by the type of mucus that they produce.

This can separate the secreting trichomes and see a clear difference between them. 

The secreting trichomes can be categorized based on what type of substance they produce.

The plant can produce unmodified substances like salts or nectar, or it can produce synthesized substances like lipophilic or hydrophilic substances. 

Although categorizing the secreting trichomes based on what substances they produce is an effective way to differentiate them, it can be difficult.

Several trichomes can produce more than one substance, which can make it difficult for them to be distinguished and to fit into one category. 

What Do Trichomes Look Like Under A Microscope?

As trichomes are very fine hairs that are found on plants, it can be difficult to closely inspect them without a microscope.

When you are looking at trichomes under a microscope, you can see the differences between their shapes, sizes, and functions.

This is why you need a microscope if you want to distinguish the different types of trichomes. 

You can use a magnifying glass to closely look at trichomes, but you will not see the same level of detail as you will from a microscope.

Therefore, to look at trichomes closely and to see their close detail, you should look at them through a microscope.

You will be able to easily distinguish between them when you can see them closely and clearly. 

Using A Stereo Microscope

When you decide to use a stereo microscope to look at trichomes, you can easily see the trichomes as the magnification is incredibly clear.

You can look at the trichomes that are on the surface and underneath the plant leaves, and you can even see the trichomes on the stem and the roots. 

To look at the trichomes underneath a stereo microscope, you only need a stereo microscope, plant leaves, stems, and roots.

Roots might be a little more difficult to get hold of, but if a plant has recently died, you can clean the roots and see if there are any visible trichomes that you can see under the microscope. 

Once you have all of your equipment, you can place the parts of the plant underneath the microscope and you will be able to see the thin trichomes.

You may also be able to see substances on the surface of the leaves from the secreting trichomes. 

Using A Pocket Microscope

Pocket microscopes are very popular as they are easy to carry around and they have good magnification despite their small size.

The main reason why pocket microscopes have become so popular is that they can be used when people are outside, allowing them to look closely at different plants without needing to wait for them to die or to take cuttings. 

There is a light built into the microscope that allows you to see the colors of the trichomes, which makes it easy to use outside.

You need to make sure that the sunlight doesn’t affect your view of the trichomes, so try to turn your back to the sun when you are using it to make sure that the sun doesn’t change the color of the trichomes under the microscope.

To use the microscope, you simply need to point it at the leaf or stem of the plant that you want to take a closer look at.

You will be able to see the trichomes underneath the microscope and you will not need to take any cuttings of plants.

Simply place your microscope closely to the part of the plant that you want to view and wait to see the trichomes. 

Epifluorescence Microscope

This microscope is used to see trichomes from a more specific view.

The microscope uses high-intensity light that illuminates the sample that you are looking at through the microscope to see more of the plant.

To see the plant from this view, you need more equipment to make sure that the procedure works correctly and that you can see inside the sample.

You will need an epifluorescence microscope, samples containing trichomes, paraformaldehyde, a blade, gel mount, and phosphate saline.

The sample should be a young sample to give you the best chance at making sure that you can see trichomes on the surface of the leaves, stem, and anywhere else on the plant. 

Firstly, make sure that you have your sample.

What Are Trichomes (1)

Next, you need to wash the sample with phosphate saline and cut the sample so that you can view it.

Place the sample over a glass slide and cover it with a gel mount. You can then place the slide underneath the microscope for it to be viewed.

The trichomes will be visible with a blue background. 

For this procedure, it is important to make sure that you have the right equipment, otherwise, you will not be able to see the trichomes.

Making sure that you have all of the right equipment is important for clearly seeing the trichomes and being able to differentiate between them. 

How Are Trichomes And Marijuana Linked?

Marijuana is a type of plant that contains substances that can alter your mind, but how are trichomes linked to marijuana?

Trichomes develop differently in marijuana plants than in other plants as they usually start to develop on the plant when it begins to grow, and they become fully developed when the plant begins to flower. 

With marijuana plants, the trichomes start as resin glands.

They produce lots of different oils to protect the plant from insects and environmental conditions, and they also protect the plant from fungus growing on it.

By producing this oil, the plant can remain healthy and it is less likely to experience any damage. 

Similar to other trichomes, different types of trichomes grow on marijuana plants, but what are the differences between them?

Capitate-Sessile

These trichomes are quite large and start to grow before the marijuana plant begins to flower.

This type of trichome appears to be flat and also contains high levels of cannabinoids. 

Bulbous Trichomes

These trichomes are very small in size but they appear to be pointed on the surface of the plant.

You can see their bulbous shape through a microscope as they are very recognizable.

They are the smallest trichomes out of the three and they produce different types of resin. 

Capitate Stalked Trichomes

These trichomes are the largest out of the three and they are very clear when you look at them through a microscope.

They form during the flowering process and they are a large part of the process of synthesizing cannabinoids and terpenoids. 

Harvesting From Trichomes

As trichomes contain the substance that alters the mind, this affects when the substance will be harvested.

Knowing when to harvest is important, as most people believe that it is down to the number of trichomes that are present to show that it is time to harvest.

However, the color of the trichomes is the main indicator of when the trichomes need to be harvested. 

When you look underneath the microscope, you will be able to see the capitate stalked trichomes.

The color of the trichomes varies depending on how mature they are, but the color is important for knowing when to harvest at the right time.

You don’t want to harvest too early, but you also don’t want to harvest too late. 

When the levels of THC are nearing their peak, the trichomes will be a translucent color through a microscope as they are still producing resin.

When the trichomes are translucent, the CBD levels in the plant are still low, so you need to wait. When the trichomes begin to turn opaque, this is the best time to harvest. 

The best way to keep a close eye on the trichomes is to use a microscope to make sure that you are keeping a clear track of the color of the trichomes.

Without using a microscope, you will not be able to effectively see the trichome colors, leading to a harvest that is either too early or too late. 

Growing marijuana is illegal in some states, so it is important to check this before you attempt to do it yourself. It is important to make sure that you are not breaking any state laws, so check this information before you begin. 

Final Thoughts

To conclude, trichomes are very thin hairs that are found on the surface of leaves, stems, roots, and other parts of a plant providing them with a lot of benefits.

Without having trichomes on plants, they will not be as protected and they will not be able to remain as alive or as healthy without them. 

Trichomes on the leaves and the stems of plants help to keep insects away from them by producing oils and substances to prevent the insects from damaging the plant.

They can also produce a thick layer of substances to keep the plant protected from weather conditions.

There are lots of different types of trichomes as not all of them produce substances. 

Finally, trichomes are a very important part of the process of growing marijuana as they contain CBD oil.

Harvesting the trichomes from the marijuana plant is difficult as it needs to be at the right time, so you need to monitor the color of the trichomes to see when the right time for harvesting is.

You need to check your state laws before growing marijuana as it is illegal in most of them. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Trichomes Be Seen Without A Microscope?

Trichomes can be seen slightly without a microscope, but you will not be able to see them clearly.

If you want to look at trichomes in a detailed way, you need to make sure that you are using a microscope as it will pick up details that your eyes will not. 

Although you can see them with your normal eyesight, a microscope will allow you to see the colors, shapes, and sizes of the trichomes on the sample that you are using.

What Are Trichomes On Marijuana Plants?

Trichomes are found on marijuana plants and they contain high levels of CBD oil.

When you are harvesting the CBD, you need to make sure that it is the right time. If it isn’t the right time, you will not have high levels of CBD in your trichomes. 

You can keep track of when the right time to harvest the trichomes is by watching the color of the trichomes to see when the right time to harvest is.

If the trichomes are translucent, they are not ready to be harvested.

When the trichomes turn opaque, they are ready to be harvested as there is a higher THC level.

Do Trichomes Protect Plants?

Trichomes do protect plants as they make sure that are protected against insects and extreme weather conditions.

The trichomes can produce substances and mucus to protect the leaves and stems of the plants from being damaged or attacked by insects.

The thick mucus can trap insects and prevent the weather from damaging the delicate plants. 

Without the trichomes on the roots, the plants would not be able to survive as they would be unable to get the right nutrients.

The trichomes help to give the plant everything that it needs to survive and to be kept alive for a long time.

Although the trichomes die after a short while, new ones are constantly growing, keeping the plant healthy and strong for a long time.

Jennifer Dawkins

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