Observing The Trichomes with the Naked Eye
How do you identify “Quality Flower”? And what exactly qualifies something as “Low Quality” anyway? Although there are many things to take into consideration, such as genetics, desired effects, environment, medicinal qualities, and of course your personal experience, there are some sure signs to look out for. Simply put, “You’ve got to observe the Herb!”
Let’s take to the senses: smell, taste, touch, sound, and of course visual inspection, and do just that.
Most growers of cannabis have a common goal in mind, to produce quality cannabis, having flower densely packed with sticky resinous trichomes. Trichomes are the hair-like outgrowths found on several plants.
Trichomes of the Cannabis plant have been divided into two types, namely glandular and non-glandular. Glandular Trichomes are special in the fact that they have secretory glands, or cells that secret resin as the cannabis plant matures. This is where the cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other essential oils are produced.
In cannabis there are 3 glandular forms of trichomes; Bulbous, Capitate-Sessile, an Capitate-Stalked. There is also 1 Non-Glandular form of trichome; Cystolithic (Cystolith hairs).
Quality Flower will be covered in trichomes that sparkle like crystals.
In contrast, lower-grade Cannabis will lack trichome coverage. Unfortunately, trichome loss/evaporation can also occur through improper storage of Cannabis after harvest and while on the shelf at a dispensary.
A Closer Look at Trichome Color
Taking a closer look at the development of trichomes, although coloration can vary between strains and maturity, the gland color will vary with ripeness of the individual THC glands. Most strains start from transparent, to milky, to amber, and gradually become opaque when THC levels have peaked and are beginning to diminish. Regardless of the initial color of the resin head, with careful observation you should be able to see a change in coloration as maturity levels off.
Stay tuned for the next feature in our series, on how to detect quality flower by using your senses. It only makes sense!