Why Weed Is Different Colors

The science of why some green is actually purple, and other colors.

Cannabis comes in many different shapes, sizes, colors, strains, containers, consumable forms––hell, you can even put marijuana in your vagina if you’re so inclined. But what makes Purple Kush, purple? Why are some strains covered in red hairs, while others may appear to be lime green, or black, or brown? It turns out, there’s more to the pigmentation of pot than genetically engineered cosmetic highlighting.

Remember, even though “Mary Jane” might be your best friend, your anti-anxiety medicine, the substance responsible for that time you flipped out and called your cat a “bitch,” weed is also a plant. Of course, like other living organisms that begin as seeds, in order to grow from a tiny, leafy shrub into a magnificent and magical “tree,” some science-y shit must go down.

Science and Genetics

The word of the day is: anthocyanins.

These babies influence the final pigmentation your plant exudes, which can vary based on the temperature and amount of light it is exposed to. According to the Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology, anthocyanins are “universal plant colorants responsible for the red, purple, and blue hues evident in many fruits, vegetables, cereal grains, and flowers.”

Herb magazine, and other cannabis enthusiasts, refer to this fortuity as the "Fall Effect:" “Cannabis doesn’t produce colors until the latter half of the flowering stage, with a few exceptions. . . depending on the lineage of the strain, certain other colors will appear when you drop the temp and the light cycle shortens, mimicking the change in season.”

Does Purple (or red or blue or yellow) Weed Get Me Any More High? 

No. The color of a nug is not indicative of its potency. And different weed does different things to different people. 

Can I Dye My Weed? (If I am a weirdo who wants to dye my weed)

If you’re asking this question, you probably use the phrase life-hacks, in which case, ugh! But in short––no. Well, mostly no, you can’t “dye your weed.” Sure, there are various techniques employed by less-than-reputable retailers––just check any online growing forum, and you’ll find mixed feelings on the practice––to alter the appearance, taste, or smell of buds. (Orange peels, anyone?) But growing cannabis is no elementary-school science project, where adding a drop of red dye to a white flower in a glass of water gets said carnation lit AF. Sure, food coloring is non-toxic, but if you squeeze a few drops of it into your grow-setup with the hope of blazing down on some neon blue dream come harvest time, you might end up having just wasted a lot of food coloring.

Weed Can Be Goth Too

On most occasions, you’ll want to stay away from smoking anything that could reasonably be referred to as “black.” That being said, there are some strains of black weed out there on the market. Think of what happens to a cup of water when it is used to clean multiple paint brushes––bristles caked-up with multiple colors––that water turns black. So, if the genetics and growing conditions and the planets align to mass-produce those anthocyanins––your nugs will look as though they listen to Morrissey on a good day.