Ellen’s Bud Break: The Purple & Blue Pigments of Pot

Anthocyanins contribute to the colors and the healing properties of weed.
Bud Break
Courtesy Cipher Genetics

Inside the chemical compound factories present within the trichomes of cannabis flowers, many elements contribute to the overall effects we feel when we smoke weed. One of those lesser-known elements is anthocyanins, a blue, red, or purple pigment found in many plants. 

Anthocyanins are within a class of cannabis compounds called flavonoids, which join in with terpenes and play a minor role in giving cannabis its tastes and aromas, but primarily affect color. These particular types of flavonoids, anthocyanins, give plants purple or indigo color tones. Early research shows anthocyanins are powerful antioxidants and may benefit our health in several other ways, including enhancing night vision, reducing the proliferation of cancer cells, controlling body weight, and strengthening memory. While “eat the rainbow” is an expression designed to encourage incorporating more colorful fruits and vegetables into our diets, we advise you also to smoke the rainbow, starting with these vivid cannabis flowers. 

Blue Lobster

Courtesy Cipher Genetics | Photo by @thecuratorco.me

Bred by Cipher Genetics 

Selected by Maine Trees

Grown by Umma Sonoma 

Incredibly layered when it comes to its aroma—a floral dryer sheet that turns to a woodsy, slightly gassy aroma when ground—the only critical thing to say about Blue Lobster is that it’s not the best weed to smoke in the morning as it delivers an intensely potent stone. Blue Lobster is a cross of Apples and Bananas with Eye Candy, both from Compound Genetics. The new cultivar comes from the cannabis breeder behind Cipher Genetics, Chris Lynch, who described it as “Pixy Stix with candy gas.” 

Not yet available on the broader cannabis flower market as Cipher plans to drop seeds in a summer 2024 release, the Blue Lobster came to be through a collaboration between Lynch (who was formerly associated with Compound before starting his own brand) and Maine-based cultivator Maine Trees, which selected the award-winning phenotype to produce clone cuts. The collaboration with Maine Trees also explains the “lobster” part of this weed’s name, as Maine is famous for lobster. 

Blue Lobster gained notoriety by winning coast-to-coast flower accolades for grower Maine Trees, first at the 2023 East Coast Zalympix in New York City and then at the 2023 Ego Clash in Northern California. While it does take on a bluish tint in photos, my sample nugs, grown by Umma Sonoma, are light green and purple colored buds frosted over with trichomes. 

Blue Lobster’s aroma resembles the soft tar-like scent of railroad tracks in a forested coastal wilderness. This weed has a woody spice salted with fresh air from the sea and tastes like sweet cedar. 

“I follow my taste pattern, which seems to differentiate myself in that way, following what I think is the best flavors and looking for unique outliers, things that stand out from the rest,” Lynch said when asked how he differentiates his cannabis breeding work from others.

Lynch’s partner in business and love, Kate, explained that Cipher created Blue Lobster with “feminized seeds by reversing Blue Lobster and pollinating the best recipients.” She said it grows more conical under LEDs than HPS lights and described the terpene profile as “blueberry candy.” 

“Blue Lobster was super stacked with X-chromosome-only genetically female pollen when we reversed her; she’s one strong, healthy donor,” Kate said. “We will release these seeds in late summer after we’re done testing and phenotyping each cross.”

Canna Country #26

Photo by Benjamin Neff, @bneff420

Bred and Grown by Canna Country Farm

The dark purple color of this cannabis is its most striking feature, but its uplifting tropical nose and smooth smoke also set this weed in a special class. Bred by Canna Country Farm, #26 is a cross of Forbidden Fruit with Cherimoya, and it’s packed with a rare terpene, ocimene. Ocimine is found in plants and fruits that have woodsy, sweet undertones, such as guavas and papayas.

Canna Country #26 smells very fruity, like mangoes before they’re peeled or a loquat turned orange in its ripeness and picked from the tallest branches in a neighborhood tree. Its taste is more earthy and woody, like sweet tobacco. 

“#26 grows like a jungle queen; she grows up to fall down and grow up again,” Canna Country’s Ted Blair said. “#26 was the tallest plant in the pheno hunt, reaching 12 feet tall and about 11 feet wide.”

Based in Humboldt County, Canna Country Farm created the #26 in 2017, and it won second place in the sungrown flower category at the 2021 Emerald Cup. Blair said its smell reminded him of a Burmese plant he grew guerilla-style as a young man. 

Photo by Benjamin Neff, @bneff420

“As the plant was growing, she was green on green. Not until she started to flower did she reveal her true colors out of nowhere,” Blair said. Purple pistols and white hairs popping out of this green plant—it was unexpected.”

At Solful—a group of San Francisco Bay Area-based cannabis retail shops—the #26 is labeled “#26 Reserve” and includes an alternative name in round brackets like a song title, Ocimene Queen.

“It’s from their best native soil bed,” Solful co-founder and CEO Eli Melrod said of the #26 available at his shops. “They have a few different areas on their farm where they grow it, and so Reggie [Weedman] and Ted, the farmers, they found the plants of the #26 in that particular bed, and they only picked the top colas to go in that batch… it’s basically like the head stash batch.”

The journey with this weed starts with the unique color of the flowers—the dark purple, almost black of an eggplant or olive—but #26 follows through with a tasty, relaxing smoke that calls for a summer spent chasing sunshine.  

    “Anthocyanins are within a class of cannabis compounds called flavonoids, which join in with terpenes to give cannabis its flavors and aromas.”

    In fact anthocyanins are odorless (molecules are too large to be volatile) and almost flavorless; possessing a very mild flavor, but with a reasonably strong astringent effect (think of the persimon or strong tea mouth effect) in the mouth.

    “While “eat the rainbow” is an expression designed to encourage incorporating more colorful fruits and vegetables into our diets, we advise you also to smoke the rainbow, starting with these vivid cannabis flowers.”

    In fact anthocyanins are not vaporised when cannabis is vaped or smoked and readily decompose with heat. Therefore sadly their probable health benefits can only be acquired from eating them.

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