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What Does It Mean When Marijuana Leaves Turn Purple?

purple leaf herb

Cannabis leaves turn purple due to cooler temperatures (typically below 65 degrees Fahrenheit) and/or the presence of a group of flavonoids called anthocyanins. While pleasing to the eye, weed with purple leaves is not inherently “better” or more potent than weed with green leaves.

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Why Some Cannabis Leaves Turn Purple

Purple cannabis is simply a cannabis plant where the leaves or buds take on purple coloration or shades of purple hue. This is usually due to the presence of anthocyanin, a water-soluble pigment. The more anthocyanin, the more purple the plant appears. Anthocyanins may appear red, blue, or black as well. They often appear in many fruits and vegetables, including berries, eggplant (aubergine), and purple cauliflower.

Cannabis is more likely to turn purple in colder temperatures, as cold breaks down chlorophyll (which is green) and allows anthocyanins to become dominant.

The Benefits of Anthocyanins

Anthocyanins are compounds called flavinoids that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In plants, anthocyanins attract pollinators and provide some protection against various stressors.

Additionally, anthocyanin specifically may have the following benefits:

Anthocyanins may also improve blood lipid profiles and prevent certain cardiovascular diseases.

Popular Purple Weed Strains

Popular weed strains famed for taking on a purple hue (or even a purple shine) include:

  • Purple Haze
  • Granddaddy Purple (GDP)
  • Mendocino Purps
  • Grape Ape
  • Purple Urkle
  • Blackwater
  • Purple Kush
  • Sour Grape
  • Purple Afghani
  • Candyland
  • Purple Skunk
  • Purple Punch
  • Hawaiian Purple
  • Purple Berry
  • Obama Kush
  • Lavender (and Lavender Jones)
  • Purple Diesel
  • Purple #1

It is possible for many cannabis strains to get purple buds or leaves when they are grown in colder temperatures. However, the above varieties tend to express more purple hues, suggesting they contain higher levels of anthocyanins.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What was the first purple weed strain?

It is difficult to point out which particular cultivar (strain) was the first to purposefully be grown for its purple color, but some suggest that the first was Purple #1, aka Purple 1, which has its roots in the growing scene of the 1980s. Purple #1 is a 50/50 indica-sativa hybrid that crosses Purple Afghani and some unknown indicas and sativas.

Jimi Hendrix also wrote a song called “Purple Haze,” which some believe refers to a purple-colored variety of cannabis. However, it is more likely that the variety of cannabis known as “Purple Haze” came after the song, with some attributing the Haze Brothers and Sam the Skunkman for developing the Purple Haze strain in the 70s.

Purple varieties of cannabis have likely been available for a long time. Still, in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, breeders started to select specifically for purple hues in their plant profiles.

Are there purple sativas?

Although purple colors are usually associated with indica cannabis plants, many sativas or sativa-dominant hybrids can take on a predominantly purple color. These include Purple Haze, Candyland, Sherbert, Tropicana Cookies, and Purple Skunk.

Is purple cannabis better than other types of cannabis?

There is no “best” type of cannabis — only the best one that works for you. If you find that you prefer purple-colored varieties, then use those varieties! The color of the buds does not in and of itself confer quality.