Weed Facts: What Makes Purple Cannabis Purple?

Weed lovers appreciate purple cannabis. They say it has better flavor, better effects than non-purple strains. But is it true?

Hues of purple and blue appear in many foods, blueberries, blackberries and plums to name a few. They also appear in cannabis. Famous purple strains include Grape Ape, Purple Urkle and Granddaddy Purple (GDP).

Three classes of compounds exist in cannabis: terpenoids, flavonoids and cannabinoids. Compounds called anthocyanins are responsible for these beautifully rich plums and purples. They’re classified as flavonoids.

While claims of superior effects and/or taste may be true in some instances, it doesn’t have anything to do with the color. Anthocyanins are bitter if they have any flavor at all with no documented benefits, health or otherwise recorded. Still, they are lovely to behold.

Did you know? Anthocyanin is derived from the Greek words anthos or “flower” and kyanos meaning “blue.”
Anthocyanin makes purple cannabis purple, derived from Greek words meaning "blue flower."

Before advanced genetics took over the cannabis industry, purple cannabis was generally produced outdoors under less than desirable conditions. Anthocyanins serve several purposes in plants. They act as a “sunscreen” to protect leaves from intense light and cold weather. The bright colors are also thought to attract pollinators.

Now using certain light and temperature conditions, cultivators easily develop strains with intense purple hues. But be forewarned, even if you purchase seeds of a notoriously purple strain, there’s no guarantee your buds will be purple!

Stress Creates Blue and Purple Hues

The purpling comes near the end of the growth cycle when chlorophyll is at its lowest. LED lights may encourage the development of anthocyanins while subduing chlorophyll growth, giving you a better chance of purple cannabis. Ultimately, it’s a careful balance between providing a controlled amount of stress. Too much and you’ll ruin your harvest; too little, no purple weed.

Learn more about one of California’s classics, Granddaddy Purple cannabis.

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