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Why Are Some Cannabis Plants Purple?

Purple cannabis – is there anything more to it than looking really cool? It’s a common question.

In this post, we’ll sort through rumors about the origins, potency, and potential health-benefits of purple cannabis flowers.

Since plants may purple for a number of reasons (spoiler: not all of the reasons are good), a little bit of background knowledge can be really helpful for people who are considering purchasing purple cannabis.

Three Factors Contribute to Purple Coloration

Temperature, nutrient levels, and genetics may all influence whether or not a plant grows up to be purple. Depending on where and how the plant is grown, each of these three factors will have a different level of influence.

1.) Temperature

For many years, purple cannabis usually meant that a plant was grown outside in cold conditions. Although it varies from plant-to-plant, cannabis tends to grow best where the daytime temperature is around 75 degrees Farenheit, with cooler temperatures at night. With the proper seed and conditions, some say that the optimum flowering temperature for harvesting purple cannabis is closer to 50 degrees.

That’s a significant difference, but it is not the whole story. Flowers with purple hues, like Kushberry (KSB), are not simply the result of cranking the thermostat down.

2.) Nutrient Levels

If a plant suffers from a lack of nitrogen, phosphorus, or sulfur, parts of the plant to turn purple. Achieving coloration using this method alone is kind of cheating. For one thing, these colors are not going to look anything like that professionally grown Purple Urkle at the dispensary.

More importantly, withholding the nutrients cannabis needs has a predictable and negative impact on plant growth. Cultivated this way, cannabis plants are going to yield fewer flowers with decreased cannabinoid concentration. In short, the plants won't look as good or be as potent if they experience a nutrient deficiency.

3.) Genetics

These days, professionals are not growing purple cannabis by starving their plants for warmth or nutrients. Instead they rely on strains of cannabis bred to produce lots of anthocyanins.

Anthocyanins are pigments (chemical compounds that absorb certain colors and reflect others) that provide plants with important coloration. This may be to attract animals, like using colored flowers to attract bees for pollination. Sometimes, anthocyanins deter animals from eating a plant by tinting the leaves a different color than the green that herbivories feel comfortable eating. Anthocyanins may also protect plants from extreme temperatures and ultraviolet light.

Plants that are high in anthocyanins, like acai berries and eggplant, have a deep purple hue similar to strains like Purple Gorilla. Such strains may be grown in optimal temperatures and in nutrient-rich soils to produce purple flowers that are vibrant in color, smell, and taste.

Health Benefits Associated with Anthocyanins

Anthocyanins have been used for generations by many cultures to treat conditions as varied as kidney stones, liver disorders, dysentery, and the common cold. Research suggests these benefits are more than simply folk medicine.

Although it is not fully understood, several studies have suggested that anthocyanins may provide health benefits for those struggling with cardiovascular disease and cancer. Additionally, anthocyanins may improve cognitive functioning, potentially counteracting the effects of age on memory.

The Low-Down on the “Purps”

“Purps,” the affectionate abbreviation of purple cannabis, has quite a reputation. A quick Internet search will yield all sorts of half-truths and claims about its legend and potency. With some of the science spelled out, let’s turn back to the original question: Is there anything special about purple cannabis?

When it comes to potency, the color is not going to play a tremendous role. As long as the cannabis is grown properly, the color will not determine its strength or effect.

If the plant is purple, but it doesn’t look, feel, or smell healthy, there is a chance the grower ended up with purple cannabis unintentionally. Their soil might not have been rich enough in nutrients or they might have failed to maintain an appropriate temperature in their grow space.

If the plant looks healthy and has that beautiful purple hue, odds are that it is a species of cannabis that is rich in anthocyanins. There are many strains that fit the bill, some bearing the grape and berry smell of plants that share in the high concentration of anthocyanins.

So, if the look and smell of the flower are attractive, the color purple may act as a helpful guide. In trying to predict the effects of cannabis, however, there are more important factors to which one should pay attention.

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