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
Purple Weed: Everything You Need To Know
Purple weed seems to be the holy grail that everyone is searching for these days. And they’re doing all kinds of crazy things to get it. But is there really any extra benefit to the purple hue, or is it all just bunk? And is it even possible to produce the coveted purple color by giving the plant something extra, taking something away, or tweaking the conditions in which the weed is grown?
We’ll answer those questions, and more, in the following article.
Myths About Purple Weed
Myths about purple weed abound. Most of those myths revolve around how the famous purple hue is achieved when growing marijuana. The most common myths include:
- Oxygen deprivation
- Carbon dioxide deprivation
- Nitrogen overload
- Altering the light cycle
- Changing the growing medium
- Varying the amount of water
Let’s look at each one in turn.
Sure you might turn blue if you held your breath too long, but that same concept doesn’t apply to marijuana plants. The myth that depriving your marijuana of oxygen turns it purple is patently false. Marijuana, like all living things, needs oxygen to grow. Restricting that oxygen in some way will only stunt the plant’s growth, not make it change color.
Carbon Dioxide Deprivation
Like oxygen, carbon dioxide is necessary for the healthy growth of most plants. A marijuana plant that is deprived of carbon dioxide won’t develop correctly. Carbon dioxide deprivation of marijuana is only a recipe for unhealthy weed, not for turning it purple marijuana plant that is deprived of carbon dioxide won’t develop correctly. Carbon dioxide deprivation of marijuana is only a recipe for unhealthy weed, not for turning it purple.
And really that’s just common sense. Depriving a plant (or any living thing) of the essential ingredients it needs to grow will only make it unhealthy.
Though it may sound counterintuitive, more is not always better. Plants need nitrogen to grow, but too much nitrogen can burn the plant and make it sick. Far from turning the plant purple, too much nitrogen will turn a marijuana plant brown. Definitely not what you’re looking for.
Altering The Light Cycle
This one doesn’t work to turn your marijuana purple either. Plants need a certain amount of light each day to stay healthy. If you mess with that process, you’re just going to get unhealthy plants, not purple ones.
Changing The Growing Medium
Nope, not going to make your marijuana purple. Plants use the nutrients in the soil to grow but altering the composition or quantity of those nutrients isn’t going to result in purple weed.
Varying The Amount Of Water
Again, no. Plants are accustomed to varying amounts of water. They can get what they need from the soil and from the air around them if none is provided directly. Some plants can go days and even weeks without direct watering. Marijuana is no different. Grown in the wild, marijuana contends with varying amounts of water on a daily basis and doesn’t turn purple. No, varying the amount of water isn’t going to somehow miraculously result in purple buds.
As you can probably surmise from the sections above, too much or too little of an essential ingredient isn’t going to result in the elusive purple buds. It’s only going to make your marijuana unhappy and unhealthy.
So how do you go about producing purple weed? Excellent question. But before we answer that, it’s important to understand the science behind what makes weed turn purple.
The Science Of Purple Weed
Flavonoids are a class of plant pigments. The pigments work in combination with other chemicals to give plants their distinctive, and varied color. Common flavonoids include quercetin, carotenoid, and kaempferol. Flavonoids get their name from the Latin “flavus” (yellow) because they generally appear yellow in appearance. Contrary to how the word looks, flavonoids have nothing to do with flavor.
The flavonoid that most concerns this discussion of purple weed is anthocyanin.
Anthocyanin gives plants a red, purple, or blue hue depending on the pH. If the pH is more acidic, the plant displays red. If the pH is more alkaline (toward the base end of the scale), the plant displays blue. If the pH is more neutral (in the middle between acid and base), the plant displays purple.
During the majority of the growing season, anthocyanin is overpowered by the stronger, greener chlorophyll. That’s why most plants are green in the spring and summer: the chlorophyll is more prevalent. And this isn’t just happenstance. The green color actually serves a purpose—it captures more solar energy than other colors.
In the fall then, when chlorophyll breaks down, the anthocyanin (and other flavonoids) are no longer overpowered by the green. This results in the beautiful yellows, reds, oranges, and even purples that signal the approach of winter.
Like the green, the colors are not just for show; they do serve a purpose. In this case, the bright colors that appear during the fall months attract more insects which, in turn, aid in the pollination process. It’s basically the plant making itself look more attractive so it can reproduce.
And whether a plant’s leaves turn red, or yellow, or orange, or purple is largely determined by its genetics. A plant’s genetics determines how much of one flavonoid or the other is present. So trying to force a marijuana plant to turn purple won’t work unless the traits are already there.
Understanding where a plant’s purple color comes from, and when it is more likely to come about, goes a long way toward helping us achieve the purple weed that so many desire. But before we talk about how to grow purple weed, let’s examine some of the possible benefits it has to offer.
Benefits Of Purple Weed
Most of the hype surrounding purple weed is strictly novelty. In reality, purple weed isn’t much different than green weed or multi-colored weed (e.g., Fruity Pebbles). Any extra benefits cannabis consumers claim to get from purple weed is more likely due to altered perceptions (no pun intended) or the strain itself. It doesn’t have to do with the color.
That said, anthocyanin has been shown to be an excellent antioxidant that occurs in foods like grapes, blueberries, and raspberries. High levels of these antioxidants can produce anti-inflammatory effects in the body. For this reason, foods, and perhaps purple weed, may be used with good results by sufferers of fibromyalgia, arthritis, and other inflammatory diseases. The science hasn’t been conducted on purple weed to fully support this hypothesis, but, based on the anthocyanin in purple-colored foods, it’s a strong possibility that there are some health benefits involved.
How To Grow Purple Weed
Two important factors determine whether weed can, and will, turn purple during its growing cycle: genetics and temperature. Here’s how they work.
1. Get The Right Seeds
Remember from our discussion about flavonoids and anthocyanin that it’s the presence of the latter that determines if purple is even possible. If a strain’s genetics contain carotenoid instead of anthocyanin, the color will be more on the yellow side. Nothing you can do will change that. It’s like planting a tomato plant and then trying to make it produce kiwi. It’s just not going to work.
So the first step in growing purple weed is to plant seeds that already have a predisposition toward purple (i.e., contain anthocyanin). Check out our popular strains below but Purple Haze and Sour Grape are excellent candidates to produce the coveted purple color.
2. Mimic Fall Temperatures
Plants change colors in the fall when temperatures begin to drop from their summer highs. So your best bet for producing purple weed is to mimic these fall temperatures and give the anthocyanin time to work its magic.
During the flowering stage, reduce the temperature below 50 degrees Fahrenheit during the nighttime cycle to help break down the chlorophyll and make the anthocyanin more active. Done consistently, these lower temperatures can produce a purple coloring a few weeks before harvest.
Popular Purple Weed Strains
As it’s name implies, this is the granddaddy of purple weed.
I can’t help but think of the beloved cartoon character of the same name. The animators had to be on some form of weed, dontcha think?
Hendrix had it right!
With parents like Sour Diesel and Granddaddy Purple, it just has to be good.
The high-flying effects of Diesel mixed with the healthy antioxidants of purple—what could be better?
A hybrid that, yes, actually smells like mild cheese.
In no way related to the president, this indica strain is a go-to for first-time users.
The Future Of Purple Weed
If you’re a cannabis consumer like us, you’re probably of the mind that even bad weed is better than none. And though you may have your own preferences when it come to flavor or effects, should it be found that the antioxidants in purple cannabis offer an extra benefit, the purple strains will likely become the gold standard. Smoking pot and getting healthy at the same time? Who could argue with that!
Purple weed seems to be the holy grail that everyone is searching for these days. But is there really any extra benefit to the purple hue? Let's find out.