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Stoner School: What Gives Cannabis Its Color?

While analyzing a nug, you may find yourself taking note of different factors such as density, trichome coverage, stickiness, and—you guessed it—color. Now we know what you’re thinking… weed is green. But if you look closely, many strains showcase colors such as purple, blue, orange, or even black leaves. 


Many of the characteristics mentioned above play a role in determining the overall quality of a strain, but can the color of a specific strain offer insight into what to expect in regards to quality or potency?


In this blog, we’ll explore what gives cannabis its color. From genetic predispositions and environmental conditions to the most common colors and how they influence potency, we’re taking a deep dive into the colorful world of cannabis. Let’s get started!


What gives cannabis its color?


The color of cannabis is determined by factors such as genetics, environmental conditions, and even processing methods. 


Some strains have a natural predisposition to certain colors due to genetics. For example, Purple Urkle is genetically predisposed to high anthocyanin levels, which is the pigment responsible for giving cannabis leaves a purple or blue hue. 


Similarly, environmental conditions can also play a role in the color of cannabis. For example, cooler temperatures during the later stage of maturity can cause some strains to produce more purple pigments in their flowers, while exposure to UV light can cause other strains to appear almost red. Though keep in mind that once again, whether or not a strain has the ability to change color under certain environmental conditions ties back to its genetic makeup.


Processing methods can also affect the color of cannabis. For example, curing cannabis in the dark can help to preserve its green color while exposure to light can cause it to turn brown or yellow. Even heat exposure during the extraction process can cause changes in color and flavor. Overall, processing practices play a big role in the finished product of any bud, and differing cultivation methods are often why the same strain from two different companies can vary in some characteristics. 


What colors are found in cannabis?


Weed can be a variety of colors beyond green. While green is the most common and typically visible in all strains, other colors include blue, purple, red, orange, yellow, and even white. 


Colorful Cannabis


The colors mentioned above ultimately play a role in the chemical composition of a strain. To discover how strains achieve their colorful buds, keep reading. 




You’re likely already familiar with chlorophyll, the naturally occurring compound found in all plants. Chlorophyll is responsible for giving plants a green color and it’s essential to the photosynthesis process that we all learned about in elementary school. Many cannabis plants retain their green color, at least to some extent. 


Blue, Purple, Red


As cannabis plants grow and mature, the production of chlorophyll often slows down. In its place, anthocyanins can emerge (if a strain is genetically predisposed to doing so), and that’s when the purple, red, and blue colors kick in. Additionally, anthocyanins can appear in the event of a drop in temperature as chlorophyll naturally slows, or even halts, production in colder temperatures — as evident in the natural life cycle of plants through each season. In this case, age, environmental conditions, and genetics all play a role in the color change.  


You may be curious as to why a strain would take on a purple color versus red or blue. The answer to that lies in the pH level of the environment. An acidic environment often results in colors such as red or even pink, while purple or blue colors are often found in neutral pH environments.


Orange, Yellow


Cannabis leaves can turn yellow or orange for a variety of reasons. First, nutrient deficiencies such as nitrogen, magnesium, or iron can cause the leaves to break down and turn yellow. An alkaline pH level within the environment can also result in yellow leaves. 


In regards to growing conditions, too much or too little light can cause the leaves to turn yellow or brown, while extreme fluctuations in temperature or humidity can cause stress on the plant, resulting in yellow leaves.




White cannabis buds can be caused by two different factors: trichome density and mildew. When a plant has reached max maturity and is harvested at the correct time under the correct conditions, it’s often covered in trichomes and may appear exceptionally icy — almost white. Since trichomes are packed with all the good stuff, including psychoactive compounds and aromatic terpenes, an extra frosty bud is often more potent. 


On the other hand, a powdery white plant could indicate mildew. However, this is not to say that every white marijuana bud is covered in mildew, so it’s important to be able to differentiate between natural trichome coverage and a fungal infection. 


Cannabis Color and Potency


And now for the question on everybody’s mind — does the color of a cannabis strain affect its potency?


Short answer: no. Color isn’t always a good indication of potency since color is largely impacted by genetics, environmental growing conditions, and harvesting methods. 


Instead of relying on color to determine potency, we’d suggest looking at the THC, CBD, and terpene content of the strain. The potency of a strain is determined by the concentration of these and a variety of other cannabinoids present in the plant such as CBN or CBG. A higher concentration of THC may indicate a more potent strain, while a 1:1 ratio of THC and CBD is often viewed as more ‘tolerable’ and balanced. 


Ultimately, the effects of a strain can vary widely depending on an individual’s tolerance, genetics, and consumption method. What works well for one stoner may not work as effectively for another, even if they are consuming the same strain.


In conclusion, the color of cannabis is determined by factors such as genetics, environmental conditions, and even processing methods. Next time you place a weed delivery order on hyperwolf.com, we encourage you to spend some time analyzing your flower to see what colors you can recognize.