What is albino cannabis? What causes it, what can you do with it, and can you grow albino cannabis intentionally? Many smokers have seen photos of pure, bright white cannabis plants. Is albino cannabis a reality? Or the result of photo manipulation?
What Is Albino Cannabis?
If you’re a regular scroller of weed content on social media, chances are you’ve come across albino cannabis plants. These rare and spectacular-looking white cannabis plants draw gasps of awe and curiosity in equal measure. But what is albino cannabis? What causes it, and can you grow your own? We have the answers you seek.
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The mechanisms controlling this phenomenon are not well understood. We know that albinism is a relatively rare event that can happen in nature, but not as uncommon as many believe. It can manifest in humans, animals and plants; when it does, the most apparent signs manifest in physical appearance.
If you’ve ever seen albinism in humans or mice, the most common symptoms are a beautiful and striking white appearance on the skin. This is usually accompanied by very light blonde or completely white hair. It’s essentially the result of a lack of melanin, the pigment that dictates the skin, hair and eyes colour. It can result in eye problems such as Photophobia, sensitivity to bright light and glare, and it’s here where the human condition and the plant condition merge somewhat.
The Role of Chlorophyll in Albino Plants
Albinism in plants is quite a rare occurrence. But where albinism in humans is due to a lack of melanin, plant albinism is due to a lack of chlorophyll. Like melanin, chlorophyll is a pigment and the one responsible for the green colour in leaves and other parts of the plant encouraged during the process of photosynthesis.
During photosynthesis, plants convert light into sugars to provide the energy plants need to thrive. But chlorophyll does much more than simply dictate the plant’s green colour – it’s vital to its survival. Rather than the typical healthy-looking green plant, albino marijuana plants take the appearance of white leaves and white buds due to a lack of chlorophyll, as, without chlorophyll, there is no pigment to absorb the energy from the sun.
This translates to a plant without the ability to respond appropriately to light. As such, it’s as if the plant is constantly in the dark, which is why one of the main side effects of albinism is that many albino plants die before reaching maturity. Albinism is a genetic trait that can appear from the seedling stage, and this recessive genetic trait can weaken plants.
Therefore, the albino cannabis plants you may have seen online aren’t the result of skilled breeding techniques, top-secret growing techniques, or any form of magical plant foods. Albino cannabis has a massive genetic disadvantage. While it may look spectacular, it almost always indicates an unhealthy plant.
Environmental Factors in Albino Cannabis
It’s thought that only genetics play the significant role in causing albino weed. Growing medium, lights, and even temperature can contribute to a plant showing albino characteristics – particularly the white colour. For example, marijuana plants may take on an albino appearance due to light bleaching. This occurs when the plant gets too close to the light source, either by explosive growth or incorrect light positioning. The result is a bleaching effect, causing the uppermost area of the plant to display as white-looking.
However, despite the white appearance of your plants, if this is the case, they are unlikely true albino and more likely what’s known as false albino – where they appear white due to environmental factors rather than the albino gene.
Can Albino Cannabis be Grown Intentionally?
This is where it gets contentious. While albinism is a recessive genetic trait, some wonder if plant tampering can help you to engineer cannabis plants that are genuinely albino. After all, these plants are rare and, in some cases, sought-after due to their unique physical appearance.
It’s arguably possible that you can breed albino cannabis. After all, the hybridisation process can certainly eliminate or strengthen particular traits. To that end, an advanced breeder could effectively cultivate a cannabis strain that contains the genetic mutation that expresses albino traits.
But rather than ask, “can you?” the more pressing question is perhaps, “why would you want to?” Other than the visuals of the plant and making for some attention-grabbing photos, albino cannabis offers little benefit. Failing to reach maturity means more than white weed. It also means lower flower production, and few cultivators want that. Then there’s the potency issue that goes along with it.
The likely-shortened lifecycle and accompanying issues include a reduced ability to produce adequate levels of cannabinoids such as THC. This will likely render an albino cannabis plant a dud for most growers.
How To Avoid Albino Cannabis
Once you find a true albino on your hands, there’s not much you can do about it other than take some photos for posterity. Since albino plants struggle with photosynthesis, you’ll likely end up with slowed growth, reduced yields, and much lower potency.
Due to its nature as a genetic trait, the best way to avoid albino cannabis is to ensure you buy cannabis seeds with quality genetics, which means buying from a trusted seed bank like Seedsman.
Have you ever encountered albino cannabis or grown your own albino plant? Comment below, and share pics if you have any.
Cultivation information, and media is given for those of our clients who live in countries where cannabis cultivation is decriminalised or legal, or to those that operate within a licensed model. We encourage all readers to be aware of their local laws and to ensure they do not break them.
Albino Weed: The Stuff Of Legend Or Scientific Fact?
Albino weed is indeed a possibility. Despite scepticism of the phenomenon, both environmental and genetic factors play a role in the occurrence of the condition.
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Cannabis Breeding – Genetics – Tissue Culture – Quality Control
Every once in awhile whilst browsing the internet for the finest cannabis porn available, one might come across weed that isn’t in any way green. Some rare findings might involve stumbling across beautiful shots of cannabis that feature strong shades of purple and even red. However, the rarest sighting of them all has to be pure white weed.
This phenomenon is absolutely beautiful; the sight of alabaster, glistening buds erupting with streaks of red calyxes is a sight to behold. But what is at the root cause of such an outcome?
ALBINISM IN CANNABIS PLANTS
No, it’s not just a Photoshop job. Pure white cannabis plants do exist and emerge from time to time. However, this isn’t exactly the result of a successful and accurate breeding project, and it certainly isn’t intentional (most of the time). Pure, bright white cannabis plants are actually the result of albinism. Much like in animals, albinism can also occur in plants and is the result of a lack of pigmentation.
The pigment that usually makes cannabis leaves and flowers green is known as chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is an absolutely vital component in the life of plants as it plays a major role in the process of photosynthesis.
Photosynthesis is the process of converting light into sugars in order for plants to survive and thrive. The chlorophyll present within cannabis leaves is used to absorb the light in the first place.
So, although the white appearance of albino cannabis plants might look spectacular and impressive, it’s actually a massive genetic disadvantage. The pure white aesthetic is a sign of a huge lack of chlorophyll, meaning that albino plants are almost incapable of carrying out the process of photosynthesis and therefore cannot generate the energy they need in order to survive and reproduce.
Some cannabis enthusiasts state the argument that albino cannabis plants don’t actually exist, and that all photographic evidence of this phenomenon is either false, or depicts other conditions instead of albinism.
This argument is in some ways reasonable, after all, how can a plant that is unable to carry out photosynthesis going to survive long enough to reach a respectable size?
Some of the sceptics out there believe that cannabis albinism isn’t albinism at all, and is simply a case of chlorosis. Chlorosis is a condition that can set-in due to a lack of nutrients in the soil. However, true albinism is a condition in which very little chlorophyll is produced from the get-go.
It is highly unlikely for a fully-albino cannabis plant to reach maturity for obvious reasons. However, partial albino plants, known as variegated plants, feature only slight albinism. These only have specific patches of white leaves and buds that are void of the green pigment. The rest of the plant is indeed green, loaded with chlorophyll, and able to photosynthesise.
THE CAUSES OF ALBINISM IN CANNABIS
Albinism can have numerous causes. Both environmental and genetic factors may play a role. Environmental conditions such as growing media, light, and temperature can all contribute to plant albinism.
However, genetic factors are reported to play a much more fundamental role in the rare condition. Albinism has been shown to be a recessive trait, with the pigment defect probably caused by incompatibilities between nuclear and chloroplast genomes.
Hybridisation is also believed to be a major cause of albinism. Cannabis growers and breeders sometimes backcross strains in order to tease out desired recessive traits that specific strains posses. In doing so, this process may cause albino traits to express themselves.
Just because a cannabis plant starts to display a white aesthetic does not mean it is expressing albino traits. For example, plants can start to turn shades of white due to bleaching caused by lighting.
Sometimes, when the top buds and leaves of a tall cannabis plant get too close to the light source due to explosive growth, the intensity of the light may become too much. This occurrence can end up bleaching, which gives the overexposed parts of the plant a white appearance.
IS ALBINISM TO BE SOUGHT OUT OR AVOIDED?
Albinism is ultimately a genetic fault within a cannabis plant. If you are a grower or breeder that is seeking to maximise flower output, growth speed, and strain potency, albino plants will only get in the way of productivity and progress.
However, growers who have time on their hands may want to pursue albino cannabis plants out of experimental curiosity. These plants won’t do you any favours in terms of a potent and large stash, but they will certainly contribute toward some fantastic cannabis photography.