Cannabis Science

Moldy Weed vs Trichomes

weed bud with trichomes

You’ve just retrieved the bud you’ve been saving up. Just as you’re about to pop it in your bong or roll it up, you notice something white on it. Before you toss it, you decide to google, “moldy weed vs trichomes.” Here’s how you know if your weed is old and moldy or just has trichomes. 

Photo: Unsplash

What are Trichomes?

Trichomes are small hair-like structures that grow on several plants including weed. They are believed to help the plants defend themselves. 

According to Dutch Passion, there are six types of trichomes that are found on weed:

  • Bulbous trichomes
  • Capitate sessile trichomes
  • Capitate-stalked trichomes
  • Simple unicellular trichomes
  • Cystolithic trichomes
  • Antherial sessile trichomes

All of these various trichomes vary in shape and color. As a matter of fact, some are pretty hard to see. The one you may be familiar with is the capitate-stalked trichome because it’s the most abundant trichome and one you can see with the naked eye. These are the largest trichomes and they can look like tiny mushrooms if you look closely. From a distance, however, your weed will just look like it was dusted in white sugar. In terms of color, typically they can range from colorless to milky as they age. 

 In addition to that, it’s possible for these trichomes to have other colors too. 

Dutch Passion says, “ [S]ome cannabis seeds, such as Auto Blackberry Kush, can produce deep blue/purple colourations to the buds and leaves. Some of these colours can also appear in the trichomes.”

While the weed plant uses trichomes for its own protection, people love trichomes because of the positive effects they can create. 

As Dutch Passion puts it, “Trichomes are the source of the cannabinoids and terpenes that characterise the quality and satisfaction delivered by cannabis.”

Yes, that’s right, trichomes house your beloved THC and that’s why it’s important for you to know the difference between trichomes and mold before you toss perfectly good weed. Let’s get into the differences. 

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What Does Moldy Weed Look Like?

Moldy Weed (Source: Creative Commons)

Mold vs Trichomes: Differences

There are a couple of ways you can tell the difference between moldy weed vs trichomes.

The first way is by smelling the weed. Both mold and trichomes have a smell. 

According to Verilife, since trichomes make terpenes, they can have a strong aroma. Of course, this is different from the smell you’d get from moldy weed. 

Moldy weed according to Healthline, “usually has a musty or mildewy smell, or it may smell kind of like hay.”

Another way to tell the difference between mold and trichomes is their appearance. Yes, they both appear white but if you look closely, mold has a more powdery look while trichomes look more like glitter. 

Healthline says, “Unlike trichomes, which look like little hairs that almost appear to glitter, mold has a gray or white powdery appearance.”

Another thing you can consider is where you stored the weed. Storing your weed in certain environments makes it more likely for mold to grow on it. 

For example, Healthline says that the ideal relative humidity for weed is 59 to 63 percent. Therefore if you store your weed in higher humidity environments, there is a high chance of mold growing on your weed. 

In addition to that, if you store your weed in an environment that is not dark or cool, mold is likely to grow on your stash. Healthline says, “The sun’s rays can heat things up and hold in moisture. A damp environment can also cause too much moisture to build up if your container isn’t properly sealed.”

Lastly, if you’re in serious doubt about whether or not your weed is full of trichomes or mold, toss it and get a fresh batch. 

Can I Get Sick If I Use Moldy Weed?

There is some risk associated with using moldy weed. However, unless you’re immunocompromised or with a lung condition, chances are using moldy weed won’t kill you. 

Just because moldy weed won’t kill you that doesn’t mean you’ll have a pleasant experience either.  Using moldy weed can result in an allergic reaction, vomiting, nausea, or coughing.

Some stoners use moldy weed and had an even worse income. One Redditor said their friend trimmed the mold off the weed, gave it to them and after smoking it, they got pneumonia. 

Bottomline is using moldy weed isn’t worth it.


If you’re wondering if the white stuff on your weed is moldy weed vs trichomes, there are several ways to tell. You can check your weed for moldy smell and a powdery look. A weed with just trichomes has a strong aroma due to the terpenes and appears to glitter. The other thing to consider is how the weed was stored. If it was stored in a hot and humid environment, chances are the white substance you see on it is mold. If you’re not sure, just toss it because you can have negative side effects from using moldy weed.


About Trevann

Trevann is Stoner Rotation’s Jamaica-based lead writer for the Science section of our cannabis blog. She graduated with honors receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular Biology from the University of West Indies, Mona. For the last three years, she has covered some of the biggest questions around cannabis and health underpinned with research from supporting studies, medical journals and scholarly articles. Got something on your mind? You can reach her at [email protected].