What Do The Colors of Marijuana Mean?
Part of the magic of marijuana is the infinite variety of traits that can be exhibited by one species of plant. Cannabis plants can be tall and lanky or short and bushy depending on their genetic heritage. Marijuana can express myriad flavors to tempt the tastebuds and aromas to excite the nose. Cannabis leaves and flowers can also vary in hue, offering a full palette of marijuana colors to please the eye.
As young plants grow, most strains of cannabis are primarily green. Many shades of green are represented—from light lime-colored hues to greens so dark they are tinged with purple. As plants flower and begin to reach maturity, more colors can appear or become more pronounced in both leaves and buds. Several different factors can influence marijuana colors, including temperature, nutrient levels, the acidity or alkalinity of the soil or other growing medium, and the quality of the light. All of these variables can impact the expression and ratio of natural pigments produced by the plant, creating the different colors of marijuana.
The Colors Of Marijuana
Green is the predominant color of most flowering plants including cannabis because of the presence of chlorophyll, the pigment that absorbs sunlight (except the green wavelengths) to power the process of photosynthesis. Through photosynthesis, plants combine carbon dioxide and water to create sugars that fuel all biological functions. Often, plant tissues will have so much chlorophyll that its green color masks the presence of other pigments. But as summer turns to autumn, lower temperatures inhibit chlorophyll production, allowing the other pigments to emerge and produce colorful marijuana. A similar phenomenon can be observed in deciduous trees as their leaves change color and fall.
Cannabis strains that retain green as the dominant bud color include Green Crack, Green Haze, and Green Goblin.
Blues, Purples, Reds, and Pinks
Cannabis flowers that are purplish to shades of blue are generally high in a group of chemicals known as anthocyanins. More than 500 anthocyanins have been identified, with colors that can range from red to purple to blue depending on pH. Anthocyanins can produce colorful marijuana although they are generally not abundant in young plants but are produced as plants mature. They belong to the class of substances known as flavonoids and have antioxidant properties. Fruits and vegetables high in anthocyanins include blueberries, açaí, raspberries, blackberries, eggplant, and purple cabbage.
Purple strains of cannabis are very popular, including Granddaddy Purple, Purple Haze and Purple Urkle. Some strains such as Black Diesel and Vietnamese Black can be so high in anthocyanins that they are nearly ebony. Marijuana strains with blue-tinged buds include Blueberry, Blue Dream, and Blue Cheese. Red and pink varieties are relatively rare and include Red Poison, Red Dragon, Pink Panther, and others. Reddish leaves or buds can also be caused by a deficiency of phosphorous, an element vital to plant physiology.
Oranges and Yellows
Carotenoids are another group of pigments that can influence the colors of marijuana. They are created by plants, algae, and photosynthetic bacteria. Beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin are among the more than 750 carotenoids have been identified. Some carotenoids in the diet, including beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin can be converted by the body into Vitamin A. Carotenoids are important for eye health and provide protection against blue light and macular degeneration. Carotenoids produce the yellow, orange, and red hues that are found in many plants including carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and tomatoes. Plants grown in alkaline soils with a pH of 5.0 or less can have a greater abundance of carotenoids.
Many flavonoids are also yellow and can influence the colors of marijuana. Nitrogen deficiencies during growth can also cause cannabis leaves and buds to appear yellowish.
Strains with orange or yellow flowers include Orange Bud, Lemon Kush, Grapefruit, Nectarine, and Olive Oyl. Many varieties of cannabis will have orange or red pistils, or hairs as they are commonly known.
Buds that have been grown and harvested to their maximum potential can be so covered with trichomes that they appear white or frosty. Trichomes are packed with cannabinoids and terpenes so these flowers can be quite potent. White Widow and White Rhino are two strains with a propensity to become encrusted with trichomes.
Marijuana Colors And Potency
Colorful marijuana can be attractive or even visually stunning, but other than white buds glistening with shiny trichomes, hue is usually not a reliable indicator of potency. But if you are consuming your bud orally in tinctures, oils, edibles, or capsules, you may be getting the nutritional benefits of carotenoids, anthocyanins, and other flavonoids. Anthocyanins have shown some activity at CB1 and CB2 receptor sites and may have a synergistic, or entourage, effect in conjunction with cannabinoids and terpenes.
But even if they don’t get you higher, different marijuana colors can add aesthetic appeal and a sense of adventure to your next bud purchase. Which color of the rainbow will you choose next?
10 Markers of a Quality Marijuana Seed
If you’re looking to start growing your own marijuana, the first place to start is with the seed. What should you look for? How can you tell a good cannabis seed from a dud? Chris Bond tells us.
So, you’ve decided to grow your own marijuana from seed. How do you know if those little, round nuggets in your hand will grow up lush and produce beautiful, productive buds? How do you know if they are duds? While ultimately the genetics will determine the destiny of those little weed seeds, and proper care will help them to realize their full potential, there are some markers you can assess to see if what you have is quality seed, indeed.
What to Look for in a Cannabis Seed
While all cannabis seed is not identical in color, there are some consistencies. Healthy, viable seed will be light to dark brown in color. Seed that is light green or even whitish in color is underdeveloped and should be tossed out. Healthy seed will also have a burled or turtle shell-like pattern on its seed coat.
A quality cannabis seed will have a waxy, protective coating. Seeds that appear dull are probably not as viable and should be avoided if given a choice.
Quality cannabis seed will look like a plump teardrop. Flat or misshapen seeds will not likely produce quality plants.
Quality seed will be firm. Cannabis seed should have a strong seed coat protecting the pre-emerged life inside. Any seed that is tender, pliable or squishy should not be planted; poor results will follow if attempted.
Size is relative, but if you are able to compare several seeds at once, the higher quality seeds are larger. When it comes to seeds, less is more. The fewer seeds that comprise any given amount, an ounce or a gram for example, is generally an indicator of higher quality seeds. The biggest seeds within a species generally have more energy stored within them and have a greater potential to mature into a productive plant. Note that indica strains tend to produce larger seeds than sativa strains so make sure the comparison is made among like seeds.
Weight often goes hand-in-hand with size, but heavier seeds are generally of higher quality than lighter ones. The older a seed gets, the more potential loss of moisture and nutrients, reducing its overall weight. Damaged seed, which has been cracked can potentially lose those same necessary qualities.
#7 Float test
Quality seeds will sink in water. In glass or vessel, place room temperature water deep enough to full cover the volume of seeds to be tested. Place your seed or seeds in the water. After a couple of hours, anything still floating, should not be considered a quality seed. Soaking seeds will allow moisture to cross over the protective membrane and signal the seed that it is time to grow. As such this test should not be performed if the intent is to store the seeds after testing as it may render otherwise quality seed unviable if not meant to be immediately germinated afterwards.
You may not have access to see or have verified information on the storage conditions of seeds, but if you can find this out, it is critical to maintaining quality seeds. While cannabis seeds can be viable for over 10 years in some instances, the best seed in terms of productivity is not more than 12 to 18 months old. It should have been stored in dark, cool and dry conditions to prevent mold or the onset of any fungal issues. Storing in a freezer can prolong seeds as well, essentially suspending time.
#9 Age at harvest
This is another aspect you, the buyer may not be privy to. Quality seed is harvest when fully mature. If seed was collected before the plant was able to load as much stored energy into it as possible, then that seed will be starting out life in a deficit. Color, as referenced above can be an indicator of whether or not a seed was harvested at the appropriate time.
You get what you pay for and a cannabis seed is not exempt from this maxim. Quality seeds are not cheap (at least when compared to other agricultural seeds). This isn’t to say that inferior seeds can’t be overpriced, but if you find cannabis seeds proclaiming excellent genetics for sale at a price that seems too good to be true, caveat emptor.
This is not meant to be a definitive list, as new varieties of cannabis emerge on the scene all the time that may have “normal” traits that would otherwise be viewed as deficiencies in other strains. As always, do your homework, ask other growers who know and buy your seeds from a reputable source.