Cannabis Quality Test – Color

As with all products that are consumed, appearance is important and cannabis is no exception. We all tend to make purchase decisions based on visual appearance. There is a reason grocery stores spend so much time maintaining their produce sections!

As cannabis continues to be researched for medical purposes and legalized in many states, strains are becoming more exotic and color is frequently connected to branding.

Healthy cannabis plants always have varying shades of green and some plants will also have hints of red, purple and sometimes blue.  Any cannabis flower that has yellow shades or is “bleached” looking is an indication that the flower came from an unhealthy plant.

A cannabis plant gets its color from two sources, environment and genetics. Cannabis plants generally all begin as green and develop their varying colors in the late phases of their flowering process. Specifically, a phytochemical called anthocyanins found in plants appears in different hues depending on the PH levels as the plant matures. Many growers use anthocyanins to monitor PH levels. Anthocyanins range in color from blue, purple and red. In nature these colors may attract animals that help the plants pollinate. Examples of fruits and vegetables that contain high levels of anthocyanins include; raspberries, cherries, grapes and red.

While color can indicate whether a plant is healthy, color is not an indication of a strains potency. Also, while it is natural to assume that these highly colorful strains are of a higher quality, this is not necessarily the case. Some color variations are an indication of nutrient deficiencies or improper growing conditions.

Again, the important thing to remember about color is that it is not an indication of potency or strength of the strain. Unlike the colors of vegetables which can affect the flavor, in cannabis color is primarily considered a visual feature.

Below is a list provided by Westword indicating specific phytochemicals and the colors related to them (

  • Anthocyanin – Blue/Purple
  • Anthoxanthin – White/Cream
  • Carotenoids – Yellow/Orange
  • Chlorophyll – Green
  • Lycopene – Red



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