We all know that marijuana is a miracle of nature. But when was the last time you looked at it — I mean really looked at it — before sparking that bowl?
You needn't be stoned to appreciate the biological beauty of weed (though it wouldn't hurt). Even with the naked eye, you'll see those delicate, reddish-orange hairs — these are the marijuana's pistils, which serve a reproductive purpose for the plant but don't much alter taste or potency for the smoker.
Moving in closer, you'll see the crystalline frost of trichomes, the milky, clear-white glands growing on the epidermis of the buds and leaves. This resin coat is what makes weed sticky, and it's what produces cannabinoids like THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
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At higher magnification, trichomes resemble some kind of mushroom out of your favorite sci-fi movie. Which they may as well be, honestly.
It only gets cooler from there. Ford McCann's Cannabis Under the Microscope: A Visual Exploration of Medicinal Sativa and C. Indica, a dazzling collection of everything "from macro photography to scanning electron microscopy," makes weed seem entirely alien. Check out this cross-section of a cannabis leaf that includes a petiole, one of the little branches that extends off the main stem:
And here, on the underside of a leaf, we can see that trichomes come in more than one shape — the spiky, defensive kind, and the squat, round type, which produces more THC:
Finally, we have the amazing view below of a bud, or cola, where flowers sprout. The concentration and variety of trichomes here is even richer, accounting for the high levels of THC found in this part of cannabis plant.
So yeah, you could say there's more to marijuana than you see at first glance. And now that you have a better sense of this miracle plant's awesome anatomy, you'll be all the more grateful when 4:20 finally rolls around.