Purple Cannabis: Why You Should Care About Color
Grandaddy Purple. Purple Kush. Purple Haze.
If you’ve ever been into a dispensary you might have seen some of these strain names and noticed that the cannabis community has a fascination with the color purple. Purple strains, which are sometimes grouped together and called “Purps” are a relatively new genetic trend and a product of selective breeding that has resulted in purple marijuana being more common. There are all sorts of myths abound about royally-colored purple weed and while many of us are aware of them, most have wondered at one point or another: why is some weed purple?
What is Purple Weed?
The purple color in your bud doesn’t indicate that your weed is different in any significant way. Much like some flower is dark green and some it lighter, dark purple bud is just a product of the plant’s genetics and growing methods.
All cannabis has what are called ‘flavonoids’ in them – chemicals that, like terpenes or cannabinoids, have a range of psychoactive and therapeutic effects. Some flavonoids are anti-inflammatory, while others are antioxidants.
One of those flavonoids is called anthocyanin, which often is responsible for making some cannabis flowers take on a vibrant purple color. Anthocyanin is also present in a lot of plants and is one of the chemicals that make leaves change color in the fall.Strains with a deep purple color are generally high in anthocyanin and many growers have been known to bring it out in strains with purple in the name.
Flavonoids also play an important role in the way cannabis effects the user, though the precise mechanism by which it does so isn’t always clear. The term entourage effect, coined in 1998 by two British researchers, refers to the way that the key compounds in cannabis (like THC and CBD) function in concert with all of the other chemicals in the plant. The effects produced by a strain are the result of the delicate and complex interplay of all of these chemicals.
How is Purple Weed Grown?
When it comes to the purps, how the bud is grown matters too. Purple weed plants don’t necessarily always exhibit deep purple colors. Anthocyanin can also cause cannabis strains to have colors like deep red, rust-colored or blueberry blue. It all depends on how it’s grown.
Since anthocyanin has a stronger impact in the fall or in cold temperatures when chlorophyll (the chemical that makes plants green) is produced in lower amounts. Some growers, hoping to bring out the purple hues, might lower the temperature while the plant is growing to bring it out more prominently. However, this can decrease yield and THC concentration, so it’s not something that growers do very often.
Where Did Purple Weed Come From?
The wider availability of purple cannabis is an example of how genetics can be traced back to some key strains that later get bred into new varieties. One of the first purple strains to hit the market with a splash was Grand Daddy Purple, which started showing up in the California medical market in the early 2000s. According to some, it owes some of its genetic lineage to Purple Urkle – another purple-colored strain that is thought to be a genetic variant of Mendocino Purp. Always take lineage history with a grain of salt, however; much of this was originally based on word-of-mouth and strain names are notoriously poor indicators of weed’s actual lineage.
Is Purple Weed Any Different Than Green Weed?
You may have gotten high on purp weed without even noticing it. Indeed, there’s nothing in purple weed that makes it any more unique than any other strain when it comes to effects. In general, there’s nothing that makes it better or worse than any other type – it’s just different. Also, the idea that purple weed is stronger than green weed is just a myth.
That said, purple strains could tell you some things about the cannabis’ genetic lineage. Because purple tends to appear in strains grown in cooler temperature, weed that’s purple often has genetics that trace back to shorter, bushier indica plants that originally grew in the cooler Asian climates. Purple Kush, for instance, is a classic indica strain that demonstrates this principle.
While it might not have a clear impact on the quality or strength of your smoke, not enough research has been conducted on purple cannabis to say otherwise. Some have theorized that the anthocyanin that makes your pot purple is the same thing that makes some fruits and vegetables purple. As a result, your weed might have some of the same antioxidant qualities that are found in those fruits.
But don’t take the lack of proven benefits as a reason to discount purple bud or to see its color as irrelevant. The aesthetic look of the bud – its trimming, how tight or fluffy it is and its color – are all the result of choices made by the grower. Presentation matters, similarly to why you often pay more at a high-end restaurant. So next time you come across a sticky, purple bud, take some extra time to appreciate all the complex shades you can see in the bud. Even if you’re not smoking a purple strain, be sure to check for other colors, as it’s one of the many things that make every cannabis strain unique.
Have you tried purple weed before? Let us know your favorite purple strain in the comments below!
Grandaddy Purple. Purple Kush. Purple Haze. If you’ve ever been into a dispensary you might have seen some of these strain names and noticed that the cannabis community has a fascination with the color purple. Purple strains, which are sometimes grouped together and called
Green, Orange, Red, and Purple Marijuana: A Guide to Pigmentation and Potency
According to a majority of cannabis consumers, the color and look of a plant is one of the biggest factors when deciding which strain to buy. And many are drawn to colorful marijuana over more traditional green and orange strains.
What does the color of cannabis say about its effects (if anything)? And is colorful marijuana the next step in the evolution of our favorite plant? Or is purple pot just a trend?
How Pot Gets Its Pigmentation
Cannabis coloration can be tied to two primary factors:
2. growing environment
Monitoring Marijuana Plant Genetics
A plant’s genetics affect the prevalence of pigments like anthocyanins and carotenoids. This is true for a wide variety of plants—not just marijuana.And while most plants appear green because of an abundance of chlorophyll, that isn’t always the case. Cannabis, like leaves in the Fall, reaches a point where the production of chlorophyll halts, allowing other pigments to show through.
So how do these difficult to pronounce pigments work?
Anthocyanins are a large group of pigments—approximately 400 in cannabis—known as flavonoids. Despite the tasty-sounding name, flavonoids have nothing to do with a strain’s flavor. These flavonoids are instead responsible for many of the blue and purple hues you find in popular strains like Granddaddy Purple and Purple Kush.
Anthocyanins are produced for more than aesthetics, though. They also help protect plants against ultraviolet radiation, pathogens, and more.
Carotenoids are the set of pigments that promote gold, yellow, red, and orange coloration. In addition to their beautiful sunset-citrus hues, carotenoids are associated with a variety of health benefits, from eye health to male fertility. They’re the same pigments found in high concentrations in carrots.
If only science had been more advanced when we were younger, our parents might have been encouraging us to smoke Lemon Kush for our daily dose of carotenoids instead of eating carrots.
While anthocyanins or carotenoids contribute to a plant’s coloration, their presence alone isn’t enough to guarantee a colorful crop, though. To truly bring out the desired reds, oranges, yellows, pinks, blues, and purples, growers have to use the environment.
Controlling the Marijuana Growing Environment
Plants naturally stop producing chlorophyll when the days get shorter and the temperature drops. So it stands to reason that growers could duplicate and control that effect in an indoor grow.
By controlling temperature and pH levels, many growers are able to foster deeper coloration in cannabis flowers.
- Decreasing the temperature and keeping the pH levels neutral or slightly higher can encourage purple and blue pigmentation in strains with the right chemical predisposition.
- For orange, yellow, and gold coloration, plants are typically grown in alkaline conditions with higher pH levels.
Similarly, using LED lights on a certain spectrum can “stress” the plant, causing it to produce more anthocyanins as a sort of sunscreen. Some growers will even alter the nutrients a plant receives as a way to promote coloration. For example, less phosphorous can cause a red tint in the leaves and buds of some plants.
So while some cannabis strains are naturally predisposed to look like Skittles ads, others require careful cultivation to bring about the deep purples, ruby reds, and golden yellows consumers crave.
The final question we need to answer is maybe the most important: does the color of weed affect its potency?
Is Colorful Marijuana More Potent?
Many cannabis consumers believe purple bud is a higher quality than green. And a deep, richly colorful weed really is a thing of beauty. But will you get a different, longer lasting, or more potent high if you smoke purple or orange weed instead of green?
The short answer is no.
But also maybe yes.
The levels of cannabinoids in a marijuana plant are relatively steady regardless of color. Purple plants aren’t any stronger than green ganja, blue bud, or the rarer pink pot. It can be fun to pull out a bag of bud so colorful it looks like a character from the Muppets, but you won’t get a higher THC concentration. Pigmentation just doesn’t play a role in cannabinoid potency.
There is some evidence that deeper red and purple pot—so deep it appears black—offers a more cerebral high than the average strain. On the other hand, the colder conditions that encourage purple pigmentation to shine through in many strains might actually limit the production of THC, capping a plant’s potency.
So you probably won’t get higher smoking purple marijuana. Good to know.
But does color affect marijuana’s non-psychoactive effects?
As it turns out, the color of cannabis may correlate to how the plant interacts with the body. Anthocyanins (which cause blue and purple hues) are also found in many berries and are known for their role as antioxidants. Studies have suggested they may provide other health benefits, as well, including anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and neuroprotective properties.
It isn’t that these benefits can’t be found in traditional green bud, but visible coloration can serve as a sign that a plant has more anthocyanins and carotenoids, suggesting it will provide greater antioxidant and pain-killing benefits.
So the next time you buy bud in Colorado, remember that the color of your cannabis means about as much as a paint job on your car. A pop of color looks nice, but it isn’t likely to change the way you handle the product or how you feel when you’re done.
And if you want strong, clean grown marijuana (whether purple, green, or other), stop by Karing Kind in North Boulder.
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Green, orange, red, and purple cannabis: what does colorful marijuana say about its effects (if anything)? (Karing Kind | Boulder, CO)