Why Does Weed Turn Purple? Truths and Myths about Purple Cannabis
Thursday April 5, 2018
I n these modern times of cannabis consumption bad information still runs rampant, and few things in the world of weed have as large a mythic standing as purple bud. This seemingly simple topic can actually be a bit convoluted, starting with, what is purple bud? The short answer is cannabis flowers that exhibit a darker, purple-tinged hue. However, it is not always the shade most people think of as “purple.”
Purple cannabis can be a tricky concept. Just stop for a moment and contemplate the timeless line, “roses are red, violets are blue.” A modern sensibility would correct that the color of violets is none other than violet. Similarly, purple weed is not always “purple.” It can have a wide range of presentation, from dark green to even black.
Why is Some Cannabis Purple?
Consider that what we call a blueberry is also usually quite purple. This is because the very thing that makes blueberries “blue” is the same as what makes purple nugs “purple,” anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are water-soluble pigments present in many plants. Despite the “cyan” in “Anthocyanins” referring to their blue nature, these molecules occur in a range of colors from red to purple to dark blue, or black, depending on pH level.
Anthocyanins are part of a larger class of substances known as flavonoids, which aside from how the name sounds, have very little to do with flavor (and are astringent to the taste). In fact, the “flav” in flavonoids comes the Greek word for yellow, flavus.
This can be a bit linguistically confusing; a blue-named class of molecules that presents as red or purple is a subset of a class of yellow-named molecules. It begins to make sense when we consider that a complex interaction of anthocyanins and other flavonoids is what causes leaves to change their color among such a brilliant spectrum in the fall.
When cannabis presents as purple, we are seeing a similar phenomenon as fall leaves, allowing purple bud to have a wide spectrum as well. Like other plants for cannabis, colors, and changes in color, have purpose. The stressed plant is changing pigment in order to achieve a goal before wilting in the cold, such as conserving energy or increasing chances for pollination.
For cannabis strains, the ability to present darker pigments, and to what degree, is wholly dependent on the plant’s genetics.
Without a predisposition to purpling, a given strain cannot be induced to turn purple. Certain strains will have more naturally occurring anthocyanins than others, and when switching to the “winter” cycle of flowering, will start to express those purple pigments innately according to their genetic predisposition interacting with the unique chemical and environmental factors in which the plant is grown.
Is Purple Marijuana Better?
Visual appeal aside, is there reason to believe that these royal-toned flowers are better than the green hues more common to the plant? The science leans towards no.
According to the European Food Safety Authority, there is no substantive evidence anthocyanins have any effect on human biology or diseases – though they contain a higher concentration of anti-oxidants, which would theoretically only be beneficial if one were eating buds. There is some minor proven correlation to anthocyanins as an anti-inflammatory, but again, would probably be more active if ingested. Seeking a strain with higher CBD content would be a better source for anti-inflammatory effects than purple hue.
In general, purple bud has a tendency for lower THC content than its greener counterparts. That’s not to say high-THC purple is not possible, we’re sure we’ve all seen or smoked an exception to the rule. That is because most purple bud that we see today is not a result of stressing the plant, but genetics.
To better understand this connection, I spoke with veteran grower and concentrate connoisseur Matt Gosling about the popularity of purple cannabis. While purple bud can be fantastic, he explained, it’s usually due to good breeding and genetics, and not much else.
“Purples are memorable. If you have a good high with purple bud, it’s going to stand out. Then if you’re a grower and you have the ability to then reinforce those genetics you’re going to, and it propagates itself from there.”
Anything beyond breeding could detriment the plant. “Any energy the plant spends pushing out that purple pigment is going to be drawn from somewhere else and is going to hurt overall. It’s just not worth risking the quality for a chance a slightly better bag appeal.”
Myths about Purple Weed
Some people believe that there are growers out there who bring out purple hues by manipulating the plant, however, the prevalence of such practices seems to largely be a myth. I rattled off a list of alleged techniques for inducing purple bud to Matt, such as affecting nutrient levels or flash freezing, and he quickly declared them bunk.
That’s not to say attempts at purpling don’t occur at all, “I’ve seen some people use ice water to do their flush,” he told me, “some other tweaking with light timing, but I don’t recommend any of it.”
In speaking with growers, budtenders, flower reviewers and other cannabis journalists, the consensus among the industry is to treat each harvest as unique–smoke what appeals to you. If the effects of purple strain are appealing, go for it.
Furthermore, no one is wrong to feel that the visual appeal of a flower can enhance the smoking experience. However, ultimately, the mere presence of the pigment is unrelated to the resulting effects. If the flower is good, by all means smoke it, in any spectrum of the rainbow.
What are your thoughts on purple weed? Do you find it to be better than green cannabis?
Matt Mongelia holds an MFA in writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He has worked in the cannabis industry in various roles for 4 years, from dispensaries, production and retail to events, content and marketing. He is a writer for the comic Dark Beach, and has previously covered music and cultural content for SOL REPUBLIC.
Everyone cannabis enthusiast has a place in their heart for purple weed. Learn about why cannabis turns purple and some of the truths and myths behind it.
PURPLE CANNABIS: UNDERSTAND WHY
You know that beautiful purple bud that you sometimes see in the Instagram feed? Want to know what is the explanation for this magical phenomenon? Come with us: we will explain in this post!
Trimmed purple buds, ready to be consumed
A subject widely commented on in the cannabis world – mainly by those curious growers is purple cannabis. Does it really exist? Where does it come from? Why does it get that way? Ah, there are many questions. And we want to answer all of them here!
Many images circulate around the famous Purple Haze and it’s beautiful and mesmerizing purple buds. But it is worth saying, Purple Haze is not the only purple strain, there are some other varieties more likely to develop this beautiful coloration and also some weather conditions that play an important role in purple buds.
Do you want to explore this wonderful world of colorful cannabis? Come with us, we’ll explain everything about it!
What makes it purple?
Not sure if everyone remembers, but we already had a similar conversation a while ago. Many people came to Instagram to ask us what made our hash water very purple, as if it were wine. And the answer to this amazing phenomenon is in an substance called anthocyanin. Anthocyanin is a pigment, and is part of the famous group of flavonoids (the one that makes wine healthy drink, when taken in moderation), and carries with it an enormous importance for our organism.
Do-Si-Dos (Pyramid Seeds) has it’s leaves purple due to induced stress in the final stage of flowering
Flavonoids have nothing to do with flavor. The word, in fact, has Greek origin, and is related to the yellow color.
Anthocyanins are found in countless vegetables, fruits and even flowers – and the expression of this colors, purple, super purple, bluish and even black coloring depends on the pH.
But what do you mean, yellow, if we’re talking about something purple?
Flavonoids have the power to transform the colors of plants in which it is present. The anthocyanin brings shades tinted to the cyan (from blue to almost black). When the plant enters “autumn mode”, like mapple, it reaches a reddish color, and mixes both types of pigmentation. Blue + red = purple. And then we see the result that we love so much!
Okay, and how do I make it turn purple?
There are many myths around this issue! I know that sometimes we growers want to play “God”, but trying to wake up a trait in a plant that does not have the genetic predisposition for it will just be a stressor. That is why:
Generally Purple genetics will present a purple bud and green leaves
Do not use dyes in your plant at all. Besides being able to decrease its health, you can decrease yours. Some dyes that we see on the market can be carcinogenic, and we do not want to smoke that right?
The secret is the right genetics. There are types of cannabis that contain more anthocyanins, which leads to the possibility of developing purple colors
It is not by depriving your plant of oxygen, carbon dioxide or other substances that it will turn purple. The most you will get is a dry brown, due to the loss of health of your cannabis.
More experienced growers do not recommend that you add cold water or decrease the amount of light in your herb to achieve something close to the desired effect. This will just express your plan.
Lower temperatures contribute to the development of purple color in plants that already have this predisposition. If you have indoor cultivation, turn on the air conditioning at the end of the cycle and watch the magic happen!
Do you know why some cannabis strains are purple ?! Understand the reason and answer all your questions about Purple Kush and other genetics.