Photo by Jess Loiterton

Learn | 08.19.2022

Purple, Red, & Green: A Guide To The Colors Of Your Buds

Nothing says "wow" like some green that isn't green. So, where do those vibrant bud colors come from?

Before cannabinoid testing, we could only measure cannabis strains with the senses. How did it smell and taste?

There’s no denying that a whiff of your bud can make your mouth water. But what really blows us away is the vibrant and unique colors.

93% of shoppers, in general, make purchasing decisions based on color and visual appeal. The same goes for cannabis consumers. But you might be thinking, where do those unique bud colors come from?

Below, we’ve provided a complete rundown on all different colors of weed, why they turn that color, and the science behind it.

Looking for funky-colored weed? How about this strain that is literally called The White? Just take a look at that spectacular bright white-colored bud. Talk about living up to your name.

The Science of Color

Photo by Elsa Olofsson

Some strains of cannabis change color as they flower. What’s the secret? Genetics.

Anthocyanins are a group of around 400 water-soluble pigment molecules classified as flavonoids. According to these strains and their different pH levels, they can appear:

  • Red
  • Blue
  • Purple
  • Yellow
  • Brown

Interestingly, flavonoids are generally yellow, hence the Latin root “flavus,” meaning yellow. They also have nothing to do with flavor; they are extremely bitter.

The Fall Effect

Photo by Onyx

Think of the leaves in the fall. They change from green to red, orange, yellow, or gold as temperatures drop.

Cannabis doesn’t produce colors until later in the flowering stage, with a few exceptions. Once the green fades, those colors can come forth and shine.

Temperature plays a vital role, as cooler temperatures inhibit chlorophyll production. You might remember from 6th-grade science that chlorophyll is the plant component essential to photosynthesis.

Depending on the strain’s lineage, colors start to show on cannabis when the temperature drops and the light cycle shortens, mimicking the change in season.

The ideal range to grow cannabis is a pH of 5.5-6.5. But during flowering, you can lean one way or another to enhance or minimize specific anthocyanins, bringing out certain colors.

Purple & Blue Strains

Photo by Juan David Cano

Different cannabis strains come with different cannabinoid ratios, flavor profiles, and anthocyanins.

The most prominent variation of green cannabis is purple. Strains that easily produce this deep pigment include:

  • Purple Urkle
  • Grandaddy Purple
  • Purple Haze
  • Purple Orangutan (some of the strongest blue and purple hues in the world)

Some strains contain so many anthocyanins that you don’t even need to drop temperatures to see the change. The plant naturally starts to lose chlorophyll at the end of its life.

Purple colored cannabis presents itself in more neutral pH environments. Blues also enjoy higher pH levels than most cannabis strains.

Red & Pink Strains

Photo by Dareus White

Red hairs appear more frequently nowadays, but surprisingly, red buds and leaves aren’t that common.

For a genuinely ruby herb, some strains that carry dominant red tones, such as Pink Flower Shaman (pictured above), will require an intense hunt.

Predator Pink expresses some phenotypes with actual pink and fuchsia hues. Don’t go buying every strain with red or pink in the name, however. Most of the time, this refers to hairs or flavor accents, like Pink Lemonade or Grapefruit.

You can also cheat by changing plant leaves and buds to red by manipulating nutrients. Phosphorus deficiencies can cause this, but it won’t be as pretty as the real thing.

Yellow & Orange Strains

Photo by Cottonbro

Carotenoids give cannabis those citrusy hues of yellow, gold, and orange.

To get these colors, you want higher alkaline conditions. If these colors are predominant in the plant, they will naturally come out as the flowering phase ends and chlorophyll starts to fade.

Orange will mainly affect the hairs and buds on strains such as:

  • Olive Oyl
  • Kandy Skunk
  • Some phenos of Alien OG.

Yellow strains include:

  • Wicked OG
  • Grapefruit
  • Lemon Kush

Black Cannabis

bud colors black strains

Some rare strains turn so dark that they appear black.

The origin of these genetics goes back to Vietnamese landraces, like Vietnamese Black. All other strains derived from hybrids, such as Black Willy and Black Tuna, share the signature dark buds and leaves.

In addition, black strains are noted for their intense, semi-psychedelic, and cerebral highs. If you want visuals, this lineage is a surefire hit.

The inky appearance comes from an overabundance of all colors in the leaves. With warmer temperatures, the dark reds and purples get replaced with lighter reds and golds in some cases.

Other Ways To Increase Bud Colors

Anthocyanins can be present in the vacuoles of the cells in plant tissues, leaves, and flowers. Sometimes, they’re even present in the trichomes themselves.

They also attract pollinating creatures like butterflies and bees while deterring pests that might snack on them or lay their eggs by tricking them into thinking the plant is unhealthy.

Besides pH and temperature, using LED lights with specific spectrums can enhance the production of anthocyanins in the tissues of cannabis.

They serve as “sunscreen” for plants, so stressing them with more UV light can make the plant produce more, enhancing the color.

Color Vs. Potency

Photo by Irina Iriser

A common misconception is that strains with bold colors are more potent.

The truth is that color has nothing to do with potency, just appeal. However, anthocyanins are known to act as powerful antioxidants and are also thought to have properties that are:

  • Analgesic
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Neuroprotective

Research suggests that some anthocyanins have a selective relationship with either CB1 or CB2 receptors, depending on the type.

So while the presence of anthocyanins doesn’t change the potency of cannabinoids like THC, it might give the strain an added entourage effect on health.

Other plants high in these molecules include:

  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Goji berries
  • Blood oranges
  • Cranberries

Cranberries, especially, are touted for their powerful antioxidant properties due to anthocyanins.

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