A Look at Cannabis Colours

By Justin Allec

Green is the colour of cannabis. Every stylized image of a cannabis leaf, whether it’s on a flag, a license plate, or even a t-shirt, gets coloured the same. Now, this is fine for a symbol, but we know that cannabis comes in some amazing colours that offer the full spectrum of the rainbow. When I open the packaging for a new strain, the first thing I do is smell. After that satisfying inhale, though, the second thing is to visually inspect—and hopefully admire—the bud.

In the olden days, a visual inspection was about the only way you had to judge your cannabis before using it. You’d nod approvingly at the healthy green colour, smile knowingly at the crystals or trichomes, and if these features were plentiful, consider it a “good” strain. Of course, this kind of inspection wasn’t really proving anything: potency can’t be assessed just by looking at a bud. What you can judge, though, is the health and potential flavour of the strain. Fresh cannabis should be vibrantly coloured, which means the taste will match.

Cannabis—like every other plant—owes its green colour to chlorophyll. For most of the plant’s life, it will be the same green as the cannabis symbol. Close to harvest, though, once the plant is mature and chlorophyll content reduces, a whole range of colours are possible from additional phytochemicals such as anthocyanins, carotenoids, and flavonoids. If you’ve experience growing outdoors, you’ll be aware of this process, as the cooler temperatures close to harvest promote this colour exchange.

With the enormous range of cannabis strains being produced, some growers are focusing on the plant’s appearance. Different colours mean different flavours, terpenes, and potency—a whole new way to taste the rainbow.

Pink: The obvious pick would be Pink Kush, as it features a mild fuchsia hue. An indica-dominant strain, Pink Kush packs a punch to the body before spreading its goodness to dull pain and increase appetite.

Orange: Carotenoids are responsible for hues of yellow and orange in plants, which require a more alkaline-heavy soil. Milder strains such as Agent Orange and Tangerine Dream have an orangey tint to their buds, feature a fantastic citrus smell, and ensure a good mood.

Purple Kush

Yellow: Strains with traces of gold and vibrant yellow, such as Lemon Haze, have a sweetness to their citrus flavour which stays in the mouth. They’re also usually more potent but also a fun time due to the increase in euphoria.

Blue: Cannabis strains like Blueberry and Blue Dream are high in anthocyanins and are some of the most attractive strains around. Predominantly indica and promoting heavy body relaxation, blue-tinged cannabis strains are some of the oldest in the industry.

Purple: Grape Ape and Purple Kush are popular due to their incredible berry flavour and potent cerebral effects, but they also tend to be soporific. Regardless, for a night off on the couch, these strains are a treat.

Red: Almost all cannabis strains will feature “red hairs,” as the bright red stigmas are part of the bud’s pistils, and a greater concentration does usually mean increased potency. There is an actual “red” hybrid strain that exists, but it’s rare and probably won’t be found in your local dispensary.

White: Strains such as White Widow and White Rhino are still green, but at their peak they’re coated with white trichomes. The effect lends the strains their names but is also a warning as to their potency.