The shade or tinge of purple in cannabis is known as purple cannabis. The pigment that gives purple buds their color is an anthocyanin, which is part of the flavonoid group. It’s the same chemical that gives blueberries their color.
Purple cannabis varieties, like many other colors of cannabis, vary in hue due to the pH levels. The color displayed by purple cannabis strains is not always a dark purple as one would assume; it can sometimes be bluish or even black depending on the pH level. Purple bud has an iconic and mythical status in the world of marijuana that few other things possess. Despite its popularity, this seemingly simple question may be confusing. What exactly is purple marijuana? Why is it colored that way? How did it get that way? And, most importantly, does color matter when it comes to smoking weed?
Let us take you through the realities and myths surrounding purple cannabis.
Why Weed Turns Purple
Purple cannabis is actually blue, and it’s because of the presence of anthocyanins that gives it this color. Anthocyanins are water-soluble pigments found in a variety of plants. Purple cannabis contains more naturally occurring anthocyanins, and as a result, weed becomes purple as these pigments are released during the growth cycle.
Let’s look at how cannabis turns purple now that we know why it happens.
What Makes Cannabis Purple
Despite the fact that they are called “anthocyanins” because of their blue hues, these compounds come in a variety of colors and are determined by the acidity of the solution in which they exist. Anthocyanins turn red-orange to pink at high acidity levels (even approaching black), ranging from medium to neutral acidity, before becoming greenish-yellow and colorless as alkaline. As a result, not only do anthocyanins make marijuana purple, but they also create other hues.
Anthocyanins are actually a type of flavonoid, which is a large family of chemical compounds with the exception that they have nothing to do with flavor (and are in fact harsh tasting, making them unappealing). The Latin term for yellow, flavus, is the source of the “flav” in flavonoids.
What is the significance of all this? Why are a blue-named class of substances (that appears red or purple) a subset of a class of yellow-named ones? It starts to make sense when we think about it: the interaction of anthocyanins and other flavonoids in leaves causes them to change color as part of such an intense rainbow during the fall.
When cannabis appears purple, it’s because the shift in temperatures is affecting the pigment molecules to generate different hues.
How Cannabis Changes Color
For cannabis, color variation has a function similar to that of other plants. Cannabis sativa grows throughout the spring and summer seasons before blossoming seasonally in the fall and winter months when grown under natural light conditions. It accomplishes these changes based on a change in photoperiod, the amount of time that plants are exposed to light each day.
When the plant is growing, it will use energy to produce food for itself in order to help it develop. It accomplishes this by manufacturing chlorophyll, which is also known as the substance that gives plants their green color. The more chlorophyll there is, the greater amount of energy the plant may absorb from sunlight in order to sustain itself.
When the development stage is done, the plant shifts its focus to reproduction. It will decrease chlorophyll synthesis needed to grow and instead devote energy to blossoming and seeding in order to create the next generation of pot plants. The more flowers or seeds it can produce, the greater its chances of genetic survival, therefore it will try every means possible to get as much energy as feasible into this phase.
When chlorophyll synthesis decreases, the cells containing chlorophyll begin to break down, revealing the anthocyanins inside. The appearance of a cannabis plant that has a lot of purple anthocyanins to turn green might now be perceived as turning from green to purple at this stage.
Cannabis, like other plants, can also produce darker pigments through various methods that are specific to the plant. However, cannabis’ capacity to create darker pigments and to what degree is entirely dependent on the plant’s genes. The genetic make-up of a certain plant determines how much anthocyanins it produces “beneath” the green chlorophyll.
Inducing a strain to turn purple is feasible with or without an inclination toward purpling. Different strains will have varying quantities of naturally occurring anthocyanins, and when switching to the flowering cycle “winter,” they will start to exhibit them according to their genetic predisposition, in conjunction with the particular chemical and environmental conditions under which the plant is cultivated.
Does How a Plant Is Grown Make It More Purple?
A plant that doesn’t contain purple anthocyanins cannot be made to turn purple. When a cannabis plant becomes purple, what we’re seeing isn’t one color changing into another; rather, one color is being hidden behind another. There will be no change in appearance without the anthocyanin base for pigmentation. Furthermore, whatever hue those pigments are without the green chlorophyll in the way reveals the color of the cannabis. This is why you’ll occasionally see pink and red marijuana as well.
The quantities of anthocyanins and their colors will be governed by genetics, but the ranges in which those hues exist will be affected by the environment in which they are produced.
The distinction between phenotype and genotype can help us grasp this concept. A plant’s genotype is defined by its hard-coded DNA. Consider it the “ideal” form of the plant when cultivated under optimal conditions. It would be bright red, with a generally spherical shape, and a vivid green top if we imagined a typical store-bought tomato.
However, the outcomes of growing two tomato seeds from the same plant under varying circumstances may appear diverse. One may not be as red as the other, or it might grow bigger or smaller than expected. The degree to which its basic genes are expressed is varied, resulting in distinct organisms with distinct characteristics. Phenotypes are variations in how a plant looks that stem from the same underlying genetics.
A plant’s genotype may affect how phenotypes are generated, but the results are unique to that plant. Furthermore, a plant can’t do anything outside of its genotype’s limits; it must operate within the genetic framework it is given.
Because of the Y gene, a tomato plant can produce more or less red tomatoes than other plants from the same variety, but without a genetic trait that allows it to do so, you cannot naturally grow a blue tomato.
Can You Stress a Marijuana Plant to Make it Turn Purple?
To better comprehend this relationship, I spoke with cannabis veteran and connoisseur Matt Gosling about the popularity of purple marijuana. Matt has overseen many harvests during Colorado’s legalization cycles and has gained a lot of expertise handling purple marijuana. While purple bud may be excellent, he added, it’s generally due to great breeding and genetics rather than anything else.
Is it possible to color a purple-leaning cannabis plant somewhat more purple? Perhaps, but you might not want to. Many growers feel that stressing a plant causes it to create deeper colors, although this is debatable.
Is Purple Marijuana Better?
Is the purple flower design more appealing than the green bud more typical to the plant? At least for smoking, the evidence suggests no.
There is no substantial evidence that anthocyanins have any impact on human physiology or diseases, according to the European Food Safety Authority. They also contain a greater amount of antioxidants (which would only be beneficial if one was eating buds directly or juicing marijuana), according To The American Chemical Society, “anthocyanin has emerged as an antioxidant showing promise in studies looking at prevention and treatment for cancer.”
Although there is some preliminary evidence that anthocyanins may be anti-inflammatory, they would presumably be more active when consumed. Looking for a strain with a higher CBD content like AC/DC might be a better option for anti-inflammatory effects than one with a purple color.
Purple buds are sometimes seen to have a lower THC content than other green buds, according to anecdotal evidence. However, this does not rule out the possibility of high-THC purple in any way; rather, it implies that pursuing pigment development may take away energy from THC production, which is why this statement is so popular. In general, coloration of cannabis buds has little bearing on their potency. The plant’s genetics and how effectively it is cultivated will ultimately determine its strength.
Why is Purple Weed Popular?
In today’s cannabis market, the popularity of purple marijuana is unquestionable. Anyone who has worked as a budtender will confirm that it’s a frequent request at dispensaries (myself included). What is it about purple marijuana that people like?
The simplest explanation may be that it’s memorable. The majority of marijuana is green in color, and purple stands out. Humans are visual animals by nature, and we’re more inclined to revisit something if we can identify it based on appearances alone.
The color purple is an especially powerful cue because it has a significant psychological effect. Once you’ve smoked a purple strain once and loved it, having the visual marker ensures that your friends will have more distinct features than you do. Any fantastic memory is more likely to be imprinted as a result of this.
Purple cannabis is also seen frequently in modern culture, which is aided by music. Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” is often brought up when purple cannabis is mentioned. Many a stoner will tell you about how the song’s lyrics contain hidden indications of marijuana or psychedelics.
However, contrary to popular belief, the song “Purple Haze” has nothing to do with a particular strain of cannabis or any other drugs. In context of a dreamlike science-fiction ballad, Hendrix himself referred to the song. He later expressed his unhappiness at being unable to further develop the themes in the completed work. It turns out that “Purple Haze” isn’t about getting so stoned that your thoughts seem like they’re controlled by an alien mist. Rather, it’s about what it’d be like if an actual alien mists took over your mind.
The original aim, however, is unimportant in the contemporary cultural understanding of cannabis. It’s time to move on. Purple marijuana is extremely popular.
Forward to the present day, and you have an almost limitless number of hip-hop and rap tracks extolling the purple. Choose from A$AP Rocky’s “Purple Swag,” Juicy J’s “Purple Kush,” Ludacris’ “Blueberry Yum Yum,” or Mac Miller’s “Purple.” And that’s just for songs with purple names; there are undoubtedly hundreds more in this vein.
In recent decades, Purple Urkle has become a legendary strain in the cannabis world—so much so that it’s been represented twice on “Chopped,” once by season winner Ali Pastore and again by season 3 runner-up Ryan Farr. In fact, actor Jaleel White, who played the character Steve Urkel on Family Matters (and is the inspiration for the strain Purple Urkle) is now launching a cannabis company called ItsPurpl, which will produce cultivars crossed with the well-known variety. According to Forbes, he started the business specifically to cater to the popularity of purple marijuana plants. He told Forbes:
In 1997, the final season of Family Matters aired. In a short time, there will be a whole generation of cannabis users who haven’t seen Jaleel White as Steve Urkel. He’ll be known instead as “the guy that owns Its Purpl.”
Finally, purple cannabis is appealing because some of it is excellent! This wouldn’t matter if there weren’t any nice purple strains for people to enjoy. Because it is so plainly seen, if all purple cannabis was terrible or even considerably worse than other hues, consumers would remember that as strongly as their pleasant recollections with purple strains. While purple cannabis isn’t necessarily superior or inferior to any other color, some purple strains are still fantastic.
Facts and Myths About Growing Purple Weed
Some people think there are a lot of growers out there who use the plant to create purple hues by tampering it, although such methods appear to be uncommon. I rattled off a list of “supposed” ways for producing purple buds, such as changing nutrient levels or flash freezing them, and Matt swiftly dismissed them as false. He kept coming back to the fact that healthy happy plants produce superior drugs than distressed ones.
That isn’t to say that purples aren’t attempted at all; “I’ve seen some people use ice water to do their flush,” he mentioned, “but I don’t recommend any of it. Some other minor changes in light timing, but I don’t advocate them.”
How to Grow Purple Marijuana
The most effective approach to grow purple marijuana is to use plants with natural-occurring purple characteristics. To separate myth from reality, we covered a few of the other more popular techniques in greater detail.
Freezing Cannabis Plants to Make Them Purple
A typical method to turn a cannabis plant purple is to shock it with cold, according to different growers. The aim is for the plant to realize that winter is approaching and that light will soon be limited, forcing it to give up attempting to absorb light through chlorophyll.
To produce the same response, less severe variations of shocking the plant with cold are to just drop temperatures late in the growth cycle or to just chill them. nMild temperature manipulation may actually induce some purpling as it speeds up the decomposition of chlorophyll.
Refrigeration, air conditioning, or plain ice can all be used to control temperature. These methods are often implemented during the growth stage, particularly as the transition to blooming approaches, although people on growers’ forums may suggest any timetable imaginable. The efficacy of these techniques appears to vary greatly, and the main rule has always been that purple genetics produce the best-tasting cannabis.
Matt mentioned that he’s seen folks try ice-water flushes, but he’s not convinced they’re effective. A flush is done at the end of a plant’s life cycle before it is harvested, when anthocyanin synthesis should be complete and chlorophyll degradation has begun. If anything changes after icing the plant, it will most likely be minor. Some growers, though, believe in its efficacy.
Nutrient Manipulation to Induce Purpling
Another purple cannabis urban legend is that a specific combination of nutrients will produce purple blooms. On the face of it, this appears to be a little more rigorous. Changes in acidity have an impact on the coloration of anthocyanins, but in practice, the hypothesis crumbles.
The soil’s pH levels will be altered as a result of this. Cannabis plants, like all other plants, require an ideal acidity level for optimal growth. While cannabis has a wide range of optimum pH to work with, going outside of that range might harm the plant.
Anthocyanins are more purple the closer to neutral acidity (7), and cannabis plants thrive in slightly acidic soil with a pH of 5.8-7. Lowering the acidity in order to produce more purple may be counterproductive, as it may promote better cannabis growth.
Experimenting With Purpling Techniques
We’ve gone through how to grow purple cannabis plants with a strong genetic propensity. Any extra efforts to induce a color change might result in lower-quality marijuana.
However, if you’re looking to explore and have some time on your hands, trying out a few of the safer methods for producing purple may be a fun educational experience to see how soil acidity or temperature change affects bud color and development. Cannabis growing knowledge is always developing. If you do discover any effective strategies that work every time, please discuss them with other growers!
It would seem that the only way to make high-potency well-purple flower is to find a strain with purple-leaning genetics and cultivate it as favorably as possible in order to express those qualities. What you’re seeing when plants are forced to turn purple is a rapid decrease in chlorophyll in an already purple-tinted plant.
According to industry experts, consumers should smoke what they like since the cannabis industry as a whole believes each harvest should be treated differently–smoke what appeals to you. If the purple strain’s effects are appealing, go for it. However, stressing the plant in order to make weed purple by any means is more likely to damage the plant and final product than it is to improve it.
Furthermore, no one is incorrect to think that the aesthetic appeal of a flower may contribute to the smoking experience. Purple bud may be entertaining, and appreciating it does not have to be more complex than that. Finally, the mere presence on