Purple strains of weed like purple haze, purple space cookies, or obama kush get a lot of attention these days. But what’s all the hype about? What makes some strains like black diamond take on a distinct purple colour? And – as some people say – do purple strains really offer a better high?
Anthocyanins: the Key to Purple Plants
The purple colour in cannabis strains like purple kush comes from a group of chemicals called anthocyanins. These are coloured pigments that occur in the flowers, fruits, leaves, and stems of many plants.
Blueberries, blackberries, eggplant, and red cabbage all contain high levels of anthocyanins. The “cyan” in anthocyanin refers to the colour blue, but in reality, anthocyanins can turn plants a range of colours, from black to blue, purple to red.
Anthocyanins are only produced towards the end of a plant’s growing cycle. As the days get shorter and plants stop producing bright-green chlorophyll (because they’re finished growing), the purple colour of anthocyanins starts to shine through.
It’s still not totally clear how anthocyanins are beneficial to plants. Some think they help plants resist the cold because they are produced at cold temperatures. But the research is still far from certain.
Anthocyanins in Cannabis: Why Are Only Some Strains Purple?
Anthocyanins occur in cannabis plants too – but only in some strains. Certain strains – like purple space cookies – have naturally high levels of anthocyanins. Others don’t. And however hard you try, you’ll never get purple weed from a strain with low anthocyanin content.
The amount of naturally occurring anthocyanins in a specific strain is down to its genetics. As breeders cross different cannabis strains, they create new varieties with varying amounts of anthocyanins. Decades ago, there weren’t many purple strains on the market. But as interest in these strains has grown, they’ve proliferated as growers work out ways to meet the demand.
However, even if your strain has a naturally high anthocyanin content, there’s no guarantee your flowers will develop a deep purple colour. The amount of anthocyanins a plant produces is affected by the environment. That means there are lots of different variables – like temperature, light, and pH – that can affect whether a purple strain ends up looking purple. Most strains will only turn purple in their last few weeks of flowering, as they stop growing and producing chlorophyll.
Can You Make Your Cannabis Strain Turn Purple?
Since purple cannabis has become popular, myths and stories have spread about how to turn your strain purple. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of truth in many of them! Manipulating the colour of your strain is complicated. And we’ll say it again – if the strain doesn’t naturally have lots of anthocyanins, it’s never going to happen.
However, if you’re growing a strain like purple haze, and want to bring out its natural colour, there are some things you can do to help it along. The most important is to mimic the seasons and slowly reduce the temperature of your plants.
Plants produce more anthocyanins in the fall as the temperature drops, so carefully cooling them down over time can encourage the purple colours to come out. Don’t do it too fast though, or you risk damaging the health of your plants.
Some myths that don’t work include flash-freezing and depriving your cannabis of nutrients. Practices like this can be risky for the overall health of your plants, reducing your yield and the quality of the weed your produce.
Is Purple Weed Stronger or Better Than Other Strains?
You might have heard that purple cannabis strains are stronger or better than others. Sadly, it seems like those are just rumours. There’s no denying that strains like purple space cookies look pretty special. Which is probably why there’s a mystical aura around some of them, especially famous strains like purple haze.
But in reality, the colour of a strain comes from its anthocyanin content, and anthocyanins are simply a pigment that affects the colour of a plant. Cannabis’ high, meanwhile, comes from its cannabinoid profile: the amount of THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids found in the plant.
Cannabinoids are a completely different class of chemicals that interact with our endocannabinoid system, which is why they make us high. Indica, sativa, and hybrid strains have such different highs because they have different cannabinoid profiles.
However, there’s no link or correlation between cannabinoid profile and anthocyanin content. So in short, the colour of your weed doesn’t tell you much about the high you’re going to get.
Is There Any Benefit to Purple Strains of Cannabis?
Alright, so purple strains don’t give you a better high – but are there any other benefits? Some people think purple cannabis is better for you than other strains.
But again, this seems to be a myth. While there’s nothing wrong with getting excited by some beautiful purple flowers, it’s a bit of a stretch to claim that purple weed is good for you.
This idea seems to come from the fact that anthocyanins are antioxidants. Theoretically, this could mean they were good for us, as antioxidants help reduce the risk of diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
Practically though, there’s not much extra benefit to smoking some purple haze over some strawberry cream. For a start, while anthocyanins have been shown to be antioxidants in lab tests, researchers have never found any benefit in humans.
And for another thing, even if purple strains of cannabis were great antioxidants, we’d have to eat, rather than smoke, a lot of flowers to get the benefit. Which, we’ll be honest, we wouldn’t recommend!
Purple Cannabis: Separating Fact from Legend
So there you have it – the truth about those pretty purple flowers we all love. It turns out they’re just that: there to look pretty. But who said that was a bad thing? Cannabis connoisseurs are concerned about more than just the high they get from their chosen flower.
There’s fascinating history and biology behind the popularity of purple strains, and skill involved in cultivating some of our favourites. So go ahead and enjoy your purple space cookies or blackberry kush to your heart’s content!