The trichomes aren’t just the sticky resin that glues to your fingers when handling buds, they’re also what contains most of the active medicinal cannabis compounds. They’re the breeding grounds for THC, the active chemical compound that creates the “head-high” you get from consuming cannabis.

Trichomes have attracted a certain fascination among cannabis aficionados. Under a microscope (or magnifying glass) they look like translucent stalks with rounded heads. These resinous, hairlike structures have evolved as a defense mechanism, protecting the plant against insect predators and the effects of UV sunlight. But they’re also so much more.

THC and cannabinoids are manufactured in only one location—the globular head of the trichomes. All of marijuana’s psychoactive and medicinal properties derive from these bulbous glands. So, next time you light up you can thank those sticky-icky trichomes (pictured below) for sending you to the stratosphere with each puff.