Purple weed strains have long intrigued cannabis lovers, and who could blame them? They offer a spectrum of visual stimulation, from deep and brooding violet to lighter shades that pirouette on the lilac end of the spectrum.
What makes weed purple?
Originally, purple strains weren’t nearly as common. They were most often associated with indica varietals and presented when the plants were exposed to cool temperatures, either artificially in an indoor grow or outdoors when summer turned to fall.
Today, breeding has offered up a number of strains that will purple out regardless of temperature. While they are often indica-dominant strains, selective breeding has made purple leaves and/or buds a fixed trait in a number of popular strains that cover the hybrid and sativa divide. For many — if not most — strains, the name will call attention to the fact that it’s a purple weed strain, and they are easily identified in a jar on any dispensary’s shelf.
While most cannabis lovers are very well acquainted with the concept of cannabinoids, and many have come to seek out specific terpenes, purple strains open up the conversation to a newer chemical component in cannabis that is starting to get more love: flavonoids.
The magic behind the hue in a purple strain comes from the presence of anthocyanin, a flavonoid that has known antioxidant effects. You’ll also find anthocyanin in a number of fruits, vegetables, flowers, and other plants, where they create some of the beautiful blues, reds, purples, and pinks we see in nature. Plants that have anthocyanins will often react to pH in their environments, which can create any number of hues on the red-blue spectrum.
Anthocyanins are being investigated for a variety of health benefits, but when it comes to obtaining it from cannabis, you’ll have to stick to edibles, and even then heat processing might destroy them.
Five popular purples to try
There are lots of purple flower strains to try, but here are some crowd favorites:
Also known as Purple Hindu Kush, you might not be surprised to hear that this strain’s parents are Hindu Kush and Purple Afghani. Maybe its rumored origins in the Oaksterdam district of Oakland, California, have something to do with its easygoing and relaxed experience, but of course, we can’t discount its indica genetics.
If you’ve got any aches or pains, or need some help getting a good night’s sleep, expect Purple Kush to deliver. Like other purple flower strains, Purple Kush offers up a grape and earthy experience on the aroma and flavor fronts and should get you to a pleasant state of chill.
Granddaddy Purple (GDP)
Whether you call it Grandaddy Purple, Granddaddy Purp, or GDP, this indica-dominant strain found its way onto the California scene through breeder Ken Estes in the early aughts and has since become a staple.
Typically high in the terpenes caryophyllene, pinene, and humulene, GDP is known for its potentially sedating and tension-relieving effects. Need to boost your appetite, combat chronic pain, or soothe irritated muscles? This strain might help. Plus it’s known for its grape-like and spicy flavor and aroma profile.
If you’re a cannabis lover of a certain age, you might assume that Purple Urkle was named after the loveable nerd that never failed to entertain on the 90s sitcom Family Matters. But that loveable nerd would be Steve Urkel, and the weed strain in question is Purple Urkle. Don’t worry, it’s a subtle difference that could easily escape one’s notice — especially if you’ve consumed said Urkle.
While Purple Urkle’s history is clouded, it’s believed to have originated in the ’80s and several online sources claim its lineage began with the famed Emerald Triangle strain Mendocino Purps. Regardless of its origins, can you expect Purple Urkle to offer an earthy musk thanks to a dominance of myrcene mixed with a sweet, fruity flavor that might hint at berry or grape.
Fun fact: Jaleel White (who played Urkel) launched his own Purple Urkle-inspired brand, ItsPurpl, in 2021.
Purple Haze is a purple weed strain with a hazy history, but most agree its roots go back to the late ’60s and early ’70s when an audio engineer and clandestine chemist Owsley Stanley produced a batch of LSD with the same name.
Purple Haze is one of several phenotypes that came from Colombian seeds cultivated by the Haze Brothers, a duo who birthed the Original Haze family in the ’70s. Purple Haze is typically a sativa-dominant strain that offers up an uplifting and euphoric experience, accented by its sweet and earthy aroma and a berry forward flavor with a hint of spice.
From the master engineers at Barney’s Farm in the Netherlands, Ayahuasca Purple is a strain that also has ties to psychedelia, but rest assured, you won’t experience anything like an ayahuasca journey with this chill strain.
Folks love Ayahuasca Purple, an indica-dominant cross between Master Kush and Red River Delta, for its unique flavor which offers a combination of nuttiness and tropical fruit, accented by a pungent but pleasant musk.