The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Fri., Oct. 16, 2020
Long before cannabinoid testing began, customers made their choices mostly based on smell and color. After that, taste and of course potency. Even today, with all the knowledge we have available when making our weed purchases, there is nothing more appealing than a jar of colorful buds.
So where do those amazing bud colors come from? In a word, anthocyanins.
Anthocyanins belong to a parent class of molecules called flavonoids and are synthesized via the phenylpropanoid pathway. They occur in all tissues of higher plants, including leaves, stems, roots, flowers and fruits. They are odorless and moderately astringent, and can appear red, blue or purple according to their pH.
Think of tree leaves in fall. As the temperature drops, they change from green to red, orange, yellow or gold. The same is true for cannabis: once the green fades, the colors appear.
Temperature plays a vital role too. Chlorophyll is the plant component vital to photosynthesis and cooler temperatures inhibit chlorophyll production. For cannabis, depending on the lineage of the strain, certain colors can appear when you drop the temperature and the light cycle shortens, simulating a change in season.
The ideal range to grow cannabis is a pH of 5.5-6.5, however, during flowering, you can lean one way or another to enhance or minimize certain anthocyanins to bring out certain colors. Additionally, different strains of cannabis come with different cannabinoid ratios, flavor profiles and anthocyanins.
Anthocyanins can be present in plant tissues, leaves and flowers. Sometimes, they even present in the trichomes themselves, which are the hairs or fine outgrowths or appendages on plants. They also can attract pollinating creatures like butterflies and bees, while deterring pests.
A common misconception is that strains with bold color are more potent. The truth is that color has nothing to do with potency.
In fact, buds that have been grown and harvested to their maximum potential can be so covered with trichomes that they almost appear white. Trichomes are packed with cannabinoids and terpenes so these flowers can be quite potent. White Widow or White Rhino are two strains with a propensity to become encrusted with trichomes.
However, anthocyanins are known to act as powerful antioxidants and are also thought to have analgesic, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties. So while the presence of anthocyanins doesn’t change the potency of cannabinoids like THC levels, 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, and cranberries. Cranberries especially are touted for their powerful antioxidant properties, due to anthocyanins.
Strong and vibrant color also indicates that your cannabis is at its peak freshness, taste, and potency. If you are consuming your colorful bud orally in tinctures, oils, edibles, or capsules, you are also getting the nutritional benefits of carotenoids, anthocyanins and other flavonoids. But what about the actual color? Do different colors provide different effects? Your cannabis can come in a rainbow of colors, and yes, different shades can determine varied effects, taste, and even smell.
ROYGBIV – Taste the Rainbow
Red: Red hairs show up more frequently, but red buds and leaves are not nearly as common. Red marijuana is a genetically selected plant and is created by combining three kinds of cannabis – ruderalis, indica and sativa. It’s an extremely rare plant. The “Red” is best known for its hybrid effects, which simultaneously offer great relief to the body and the mind and is known for its intoxicating aroma.
There are also some lovely shades of pink, such as Predator Pink or Pink Kush, with actual pink and fuchsia hues. These are Indica-dominant hybrids, with powerful body-focused effects known to eliminate pain, insomnia, and appetite loss.
Orange: Carotenoids give cannabis those citrusy hues of yellow, gold, and orange. To get these colors, more alkaline conditions are required. If these colors are predominant in the plant, they will come out naturally as the flowering phase comes to an end.
Orange will mostly affect the hairs and buds, such as Agent Orange, Orange Crush, or Tangerine Dream. These strains are known for their aromas of fresh-cut citrus and are excellent mood enhancers.
Yellow: Carotenoids produce the warm hues found in many plants including carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and tomatoes. Beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin are among the more than 750 carotenoids have been identified and can be converted by the body into Vitamin A. Many flavonoids are also yellow and can influence the colors of cannabis.
Yellow strains include Lemon Haze, Golden Lemon, and Strawberry Banana. Known for their sweet and citrusy scents and high-THC content, they are said to produce happy, invigorating effects that sharpen creativity and sensory awareness.
Green: Green is the predominant color of most flowering plants, including cannabis, due to the presence of chlorophyll. Often plant tissues will have so much chlorophyll that its green color masks the presence of other pigments.
Cannabis strains that retain green as the dominant bud color include Green Crack and Green Goblin. With a tangy, fruity flavor redolent of mango, Green Crack is a great daytime strain known to fight fatigue, stress and depression.
Blue: Cannabis flowers with shades of blue are high in anthocyanins and are by far some of the most beautiful. Likewise, fruits and vegetables high in anthocyanins include blueberries, açai, raspberries, blackberries, and purple cabbage. Blue-hued cannabis can be achieved by picking a blue strain of cannabis seeds and letting it grow outdoors, naturally occurring as the temperature drops.
All blue cannabis descends from Dutch Passion’s Blueberry, developed in Amsterdam in the 1970s. Popular strains include Blue Haze, Blue Mystic and Blue Cheese. These predominant Indica strains are known for being heavy, often used for relaxation and for providing relief from muscle spasms, pain, or stress.
Indigo: There are some rare strains that are so dark they almost 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 both the signature ebony buds and leaves.
In addition, black strains are noted for their intense psychedelic, cerebral highs. If you want visuals, this lineage is for you. The inky appearance comes from an overabundance of all colors in the leaves.
Violet: Purple strains of cannabis are probably the most popular, such as Granddaddy Purple, Purple Haze and Purple Urkle. Marijuana strains that appear purplish or blue as opposed to the traditional green cannabis, tend to be more fruity, due to the high number of anthocyanins.
Purple Orangutan (or Gorilla) has some of the strongest purple hues in the world. This mostly indica hybrid produces lush, chunky buds covered in trichomes and purple shades. Purple Gorilla flowers smell of fresh earth and an array of berries, with a taste reminiscent of grapes picked right from the vine.
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With all the knowledge we have available when making our weed purchases, there is still nothing more appealing than a jar of colorful buds.
THE COLOR OF WEED – WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
Cannabis – What does the cover tell you about the book?
Can you tell what’s in your weed just by looking at it? The answer is a firm yes and no.
Sure, sometimes you can tell what the variety is, say Sativa or Indica, but it is not always straightforward figuring out the potency from the color of the bud. Certainly some smart growers have mislabeled Hybrid strains from time to time, due to a misinterpretation of visual appearance in combination with inaccurate “starting” information, urban myth about parentage.
“The most solid visual for potency of bud is an abundance of crystals. Very dark bud is quite often very potent as well. Other visual indicators, colors are more challenging to figure.” – Budsman#3
It’s somewhat like judging a book by its cover; appearance may mean something,then again, it may mean nothing. In the case of marijuana there are some things you can take away from the appearance, if it sparkles, then that surely means it is either doped with glass (this happen can happen with street weed) or it contains crystals packed with cannabinoids. In other words, crystals = potent, more crystals more potent. Mega bright colors usually mean something good is going on . Moldy weed, which should never be smoked, looks and smells moldy.
Before the advent of commercial cannabinoid testing (1990’s), people had to rely mostly on their senses. How did it smell and taste? Nice bud trims and aromas are attractive, but it is the wild colors that really create a lusty impression and blows people away.
THE SCIENCE OF BUD COLOR
Is there any difference between Red Green, Purple- Purple, Red & Green.
Often strains, change color as they flower due to the action of enzymes that produce new molecules. White light is composed of every color in the rainbow. Different molecules absorb certain colors and reflect others. It is the reflected color that the eye sees. Most purified cannabinoids do not have any color at all, but some of the other things in the bud go hand in hand with THC, CBD and other cannabinoids.
Blueberries, grapes and cannabis can contain Anthocyanins, a group of more than 400, water-soluble blue-purple pigmented molecules. Flavonoids are yellow and have an extremely bitter taste. These ingredients are very desirable in nutritional edibles and beverages.
Cannabis THC and CBD rich flowers don’t change color until they are in the fall of their life cycle Think of the tree leaves in fall. Like leaves on a tree ( cannabis is actually a giant herb), colors change from green to red,through orange to yellow. Once the green fades, the enzymes kick in and the buds blossom colorfully ..
HOW CANNABIS AFFECTS EVERYONE DIFFERENTLY
There are three popular marijuana species in common use for recreational and medical purposes. Other varieties are used for agricultural and industrial purposes. Sativa is tall and thin, while Indical is short and fat, and the mystical ruderalis is rather scrawny. As accurate DNA test information comes in, we are learning a lot more about the genetics.
MARIJUANA WITH A SKUNKY SMELL – IS IT GOOD?
MARIJUANA GENETICS – SECRETS OF ANCESTRY REVEALED
Marijuana Scientists now have the ability to look at the genetics of cannabis strains and determine with incredible precision, ancestral information. DNA is used to code proteins which form and build cells and ultimately the entire organism.
Chromosomes are a long chaning of DNA containing many genes (sections of DNA) which code specific proteins that instruct the organism to grow. In humans, there are 23 pairs of chromosomes while the Sativa species has 9 pairs. Each chromosome contains thousands of genes. Genes themselves can contain a million base pairs. A gene test is far superior to what comes out of the grape vine.
For example, before DNA testing was possible in humans, it was thought the Ainu people of Northern Japan of Samurai fame were a lost tribe of Caucasians, due to their robust frames, hairy and white skin features. However, these visual features are only skin deep, and only account for a fraction of the thousands of traits found in humans (blood type, immune cells, etc.). When the geneticists looked under the hood, and inspected Ainu DNA in detail, it was concluded that Ainu are of neither Japanese nor “Caucasian” origin.
AINU of Japan – Some of their genetic features are closer to natives of Tibet and Negroid tribes in the Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean. Similarly, in marijuana, the genes turning on and off code the production of proteins and enzymes that instruct the plant to make various portions of terpenes, cannabinoids, flavonoids, etc.
How do you tell if your bud is INDICA or SATIVA?
“Sativa bud is generally more leafy/fluffy, light green while Indica tends to be dense/solid dark green, Sill it can be hard to tell with some varieties. You have to smoke it and feel what kind of high you’re experiencing. If your body is relaxed and you’re zoned out, it’s most likely an indica, or an indica dominant strain. If you have a head rush and you’re completely mindfucked, it’s a sativa.” – Street Expert:
CLIMATE – TEMPERATURE A MAJOR FACTOR IN COLOR
Lack of light will produce a sickly looking plant and bud.
Chlorophyll is a plant pigment that sustains life pretty much for the entire food chain for plants and animals. Strangely, the color green is toxic to plants and interferes with photosynthesis, the making of sugar from thin and water. Plants absorb every color and reflect green, which obviously accounts for its color. At the end of its life, as the plant prepares to bear seeds, toxic green light is allowed to penetrate the plant, at which time the genes switch on to code enzymes to produce chemicals that turns the foliage to yellow.
“Trials done with lettuce showed that light with 5% green wavelengths had little impact on total mass, but that when green light levels were increased, it was not only a waste of energy, but it significantly hindered plant growth.” (Kim et al., 2004).
Green light, however can be very useful to stimulate plants to grow denser and hardier in the early stages of growth. Later in the cycle, green light can be used to accelerate maturation. If you want to try this, we suggest you research further into this very interesting field. Lower temperature inhibits chlorophyll production. Temperature and lessening the light tells plants that a change of season is coming, summer to fall. The plant detects these changes and tells itself to get busy maturing buds and making babies (seeds) before it’s too late.
Most medical pot growers find that soil pH should be a little on the acidic side, around 6.0 plus or minus 0.5 pH units. Adjusting the pH also signals the plants enzyme system to produce more or less anthocyanins, flavonoids and cannabinoids? This is an exciting area for researchers in their quest to produce strains rich in certain cannabinoids like CBG, CBC. THCV and others.
Certain strains have so much that you don’t even need to drop temperatures to see the change, as the plant naturally starts to lose chlorophyll at the end of its life. Purple Orangutan has some of the strongest blue and purple hues in the world. Purple hues come to the fore in more neutral pH environments. Blues also enjoy higher pH levels than most cannabis strains.
THE COLOR OF BUD – WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
RED AND PINK
Red hairs are common, but red buds are rare actually. Pink Flower Shaman, a potent energising strain carries dominant red tones. Predator Pink on the other hand is pink in appearance and is smooth and relaxing. Starving plants of phosphorus can cause leaves and bud to redden too. It would be interesting to know if phosphorus can be used to manipulate cannabinoid content.
“Red hairs indicate that a plant has not been pollinated. Therefore, the plant has more potential for psychoactivity. No seeds= larger, more potent buds, as the plant’s energy is directed to THC/flower production and not seed production. HOWEVER- Red hairs don’t always mean that a particular bud is potent. It seems that years ago, Dutch seed companies picked their breeding stock by appearance,ie plants that had large amounts of hairs. This has let to a widespread dilution of the gene pool, as nearly every stain now has some dutch genetics. This poor decision has set back breeding programs.The proof is always in the puff! ” More
YELLOW AND ORANGE
Natural pigments Carotenoids give plants, vegetables and cannabis their distinctive hues of yellow, gold, and orange. Growing in alkaline conditions 5.0 or less will increase the concentration of carotenoids. Near the end of the growth cycle, these molecules dominate as chlorophyll disintegrates.
Orange Bud Varieties include: Olive Oyl, Kandy Skunk, Alien OG. Yellow Wicked OG, Grapefruit, and Lemon Kush.
BLACK / DARK
An abundance of anthocyanins (same pigment found in blueberries).accounts in part for the dark color of the bud. Very dark usually means very potent. Super dark red, green, and purple hues are said to come from Vietnamese landraces such as Vietnamese Black. Black Willy (high CBD) and Black Tuna (super high THC) share the ebony signature.. UV light from the sun or LED lighting is known to increase the production of anthocyanins.
RED / GREEN / PURPLE MIXTURES
While dark varieties are usually potent, bold colors don’t necessarily correlate. However, bright colors mean the plant is rich in pigments, like anthocyanins and carotenoids which have antioxidant, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective properties.
Research indicates that some anthocyanins have an affinity for CB1 or CB2 receptors, as do the Cannabinoids THC and CBD; and contribute to the entourage effect. This means that the color of the bud could play a role in selection when a patient finds that a certain color relates to a preferred medicinal effect.
Purple, Red & Green Weed: – A Guide To Bud Colors
HIGH POTENCY MEDICAL (GREEN) vs DODGY STREET WEED (SCHWAG)
There are a million types of schwag, which is slang for low quality street weed obtained from strains that might be better used for making rope. Then again, some schwag could be OK. It’s like a cross between a harsh cigarette, with a little pot and if you’re unlucky, it’s cut with the cheapest street drugs and sprayed with god knows what. If you grew the schwag yourself, and did not use chemicals on it and it works for you, it might actually be beneficial. You would want to confirm your beliefs in the medicinal quality through lab testing; parameters include cannabinoid profile, d8, d9 THC, CBD.
“Going from a smooth, chronic (THC medical grade) high to a thick, rough schwag high has been known to cause shock and stress disorders in visitors from the north who were unaware that cannabis also came in the flavor nasty! Having just returned from Vancouver, British Columbia, where I smoked the best buds of my life, I couldn’t help but close my eyes and try to feel the difference in the hits. The schwag is harsh and thick, similar to smoking a Marlboro Red, with the smoke settling in the back of the throat. Reggie smokers agree that the harshness grows on you, and after smoking southern “regs”, you can smoke just about anything.” – Kat McCloud, Cannabis Culture
MMJDOCTORONLINE Notes: Grower’s Permits, 420 Evaluations, Doctor’s Recommendations, and Cannabis ID Cards application take a few minutes online here. Approval is usually same day, with documents emailed and snail mailed (in non-marijuana marked envelopes). Patients don’t pay unless they are approved by our California licensed doctor.
This 100% online process complies with the guidelines for Telemedicine set by the California Board of Medicine. Documents are valid in both California and Nevada for one year at dispensaries, cannabis clubs, cooperatives, delivery services, MMJ clinics and online suppliers. Cannabis ID cards are especially useful to prove that you’re legal to smoke at events, and to possess and transport marijuana legally.
pH affects plant growth and nutrient availability. pH can affect the availability of nutrients. pH can affect the absorption of nutrients by plant roots pH values above 7.5 cause iron, manganese, copper, zinc and boron ions to be less available to plants. pH values below 6 causes the solubility of phosphoric acid, calcium and magnesium to drop. pH values between 3 and 5 and temperatures above 26 degrees Celsius encourage the development of fungal diseases.
Every indoor gardener knows the important role blue and red light both play in plant development and growth. But how about green light? Chris Bond investigates whether green light may be helpful in some situations.
What Colors mean What? User Discussion Group Highlights
Okay, I’ve smoked a fair share of different strains and the ones of particular quality always seem to have a unique color. I always thought that red hairs and white crystals serve as the storage for the THC, and yet there are certain weed variants that are famed for being dark, or purplish (purple haze, black widow, etc.), and then you’ve got some strains of Kush.
As far as I know, different colors of the weed are due to different levels of photoreactive pigments in the plant pigments are not psycho-active–as only the D-9-THC is the psychoactive compound in the weed. I too have seen exotically pigmented buds in magazine such as High Times and in real-life—and wondered if the exotic colors conferred any “special” potency. To date, I have concluded that the exotic colorations are only superficialities that lend a fancy appearance of the bud/leaf.
Plant pigments are just by-products of the particular strain—think of the analogy like a red rose, yellow rose, pink rose—they all smell like rose–if you were blindfolded– but have a different color. Plant pigments in and of himself do NOT confer any psychoactive effect.
What does the color of your weed mean? What is the most medicinal or potent ? Are bright colors or dark colors better, how about shiny particles