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Purple Weed is as Legendary as a Unicorn, But is it Fake Too?

Lydia K. RN

When you see bright purple buds for sale: real of fake? Purple cannabis is very much real, but a lot of the “purple product” you see is definitely fake.

Whether you are new to the cannabis space or a seasoned consumer, the learning curve can be steep as there’s always new stuff coming out! It’s like the whole world is focussed toward a  cannabis revolution and making up novel ways get their medicine. Something that is not new, but continues to surprise people, is the existence of purple weed.  Some say myth or Photoshop, but we say 100% real.

Purple Weed up close

Image Credit: Jan Hofbauer

Some of the most common questions and myths about purple weed:

Is there such a thing as purple cannabis?

Yes, this is no myth. Some varieties of cannabis have a purple hue, especially at the time that the plant is maturing. The purple color will be prominent in the flowers, foliage, stems and roots.

Is purple weed the result of cold temperature exposure? 

This has some element of truth in it, but not true for all strains of cannabis. You can’t just take a Green Crack cannabis plant, subject it to cold and make it purple. The purple hue is a result of the genetic predisposition of the plant responding to environmental factors. It’s like a child being born with the genes to reach six feet tall, but then is malnourished so these genes never get to reach their full potential (because environmental factors are not in favor). More on purple hue and cold later. But, by shocking your babies with a cold temperature, you are really just inhibiting phosphorus uptake which can harm the plant in the end.

Purple Weed in field close up

Image Credit: Jan Hofbauer

Does Purple Weed Happen When the Plant is Deprived of Nutrients?

Nutrient deficiency results in the cannabis plant being unhealthy and less productive, which can change the color of the leaves. Typically these color changes are yellow (low nitrogen), dark green/brown spotted (low phorphorus), or yellow/white (low magnesium). There are other indicators of low nutrients, such as burnt edges to the leaves, but this would not be considered a color change.

While it’s true that stems can sometimes turn red or purple when the plant is experiencing a nutrient deficiency, such as low phosphorus, these have negative consequences for the growth and flower production of the plant.

Purple weed flower close up

Image Credit: Mitch M

How Do You Grow Purple Weed?

Any hue is due to the presence of flavonoids, which are compounds naturally found in the cannabis plant. Anthocyanin is the flavonoid that gives cannabis its purplish color. Depending on the soil pH, the color can range from red, to purple and blue. With an alkaline pH, the plant may turn blue while with an acidic pH, the plant tends towards red. A neutral pH will give the plant a purple hue. But, remember that not all cannabis strains have this in their genetic makeup.

Chlorophyll is what gives the plant its green color. During most of the growing season, chlorophyll dominates over anthocyanin as it captures more solar energy. When fall sets in, chlorophyll breaks down and the other flavonoids, such as anthocyanin, can now dominate. The bright colors that appear during fall serve a purpose; to attract insects for pollination. As discussed earlier, the color that cannabis becomes at this point is determined by its genetic makeup. Cannabis purple flower versus green

Image Credit: Canna Obscura

Tips for Getting a Richer Purple Hue

Buy a Strain That Has the Genes for Purple Hue

Not all strains of cannabis have high concentrations of anthocyanin.  It will be futile to expect a strain rich in the flavonoid, carotene, to turn purple, when its genetic makeup is for orange hue.  Some good examples of purple strains include Purple haze, Deep purple and Purple Afghan Kush.

Create Lowered Temperatures Before Harvest

At higher temperatures, chlorophyll is dominant, but as the temperatures get lower, the chlorophyll breaks down, giving room for the expression of flavonoids. So once you have the right strain, you can mimic fall temperatures changes in your grow room during the flowering stage. This would be below 50 degrees Fahrenheit during the nighttime cycle. Keep day time temperature warm. Do this consistently and soon enough your cannabis plant will start turning purple.

Purple Weed close up flower

Image Credit: Danaan

Are There Any Medicinal Benefits to Purple Weed ?

Generally speaking, cannabinoid potency is not related to the purple color of the plant.  However, the compound anthocyanin has been shown to have great antioxidant effect as well as anti inflammatory benefit. Recent studies have shown that full spectrum cannabis offers more potent and longer lasting effects. When cannabinoids are left in combination with other cannabis compounds, such a terpenes, flavonoids and nutrients, the healing effect is stronger. This means that anthocyanin can be a key component of the Entourage Effect to deliver better healing.  Foods high in anthocyanin, such as purple cabbage, blueberries and grapes have already been used in the treatment of fibromyalgia, arthritic pain and other inflammatory diseases.

Whats next?

Further research needs to be done to maximize the potential medicinal benefits of purple cannabis. It is still unclear whether the anthocyanin benefits are lost during combustion, or if temperature control, such as that enjoyed with vaping, could retain benefits and enhance healing.

For now, we know that purple weed is real and anthocyanins enhance the beauty of the cannabis and could potentially strengthen its healing properties.

Buds in the Featured Photo: Totally Fake



Lydia Kariuki

RN, Expert medical writer who is passionate about cannabis!

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