Albino Weed: Does It Really Exist?

Does Albino Cannabis Really Exist?

Albino Cannabis – light burn or true albinism? We’ve all seen these photos of unreal-looking white buds and leaves on cannabis plants, so what’s the deal?

The short answer is that yes, there is such a thing as albino cannabis – but only up to a point. Let’s explain… if a plant is an albino, that means it’s not producing chlorophyll. If it isn’t producing chlorophyll, it probably won’t survive very long on its own, as chlorophyll is essential for photosynthesis, which is how plants get energy from sunlight.

If a plant can’t produce energy from sunlight, it will die unless it is a mistletoe or a similar parasitic species, which can hook its roots into another plant and steal its nutrients! Yup that happens…and many of these parasites are truly albino, with no green coloration at all.

So, what’s the deal with these strange white cannabis buds and leaves? How can a cannabis plant even get close to flowering if it can’t produce chlorophyll?

Well, the answer is simple. The cannabis plant isn’t truly albino – only some parts of it are! The non-albino parts can photosynthesize and can supply the other parts with the nutrients it requires. Occasionally, you might also see an all-white seedling from a pack of seed – but it’s pretty much impossible that a fully-albino baby could survive to maturity.

This phenomenon is very, very rare, and rather than albinism, it’s called variegation in plants.

It usually pops up in commercial breeding programs, which can throw up all sorts of interesting genetic anomalies that wouldn’t necessarily become established in the wild. One well-known example of this is DJ Short’s Vanilluna, which can occasionally express white patches on flowers and leaves.

Interestingly, many plant cultivars have this tendency, and many of them are prized for their attractive appearance. In cannabis, it’s generally seen as undesirable, as the individual is likely to be less productive than its all-green sisters – but there are still plenty of people fascinated enough by the phenomenon to be very happy when they see one sprout!

(Note – if you do come across albino or variegated cannabis plants, try feeding them supplementary sugars such as 1ml molasses per liter of water. As they can’t produce their sugars, you may help them out and boost their productivity a little.)

So Why Don’t People Believe Albino Cannabis Exists?

So does that explain all these examples of white flowers and leaves you can find on the internet? Well, yes, some of them – but there are plenty of posts and articles out there stating that albino cannabis doesn’t exist. Why is this?

Well, it turns out that there is another reason for white buds and leaves! It’s a result of excessive light intensity from LED lighting systems. It is rarer with hot HPS lights – your buds will usually burn and go brown before they bleach, in those temperatures (although it can occur with HPS lights shielded by the glass)! It’s something that is much more closely associated with LEDs, which provide a tremendous amount of light intensity at cooler temperatures.

But here’s the thing – even though it’s clear that excessive light may cause white patches to occur, it may do so by flipping a genetic switch! In many plants, variegation increases in high-light conditions – so in fact, by keeping your LEDs too close to the plant, you may be coaxing out a shy recessive trait.

So, white flowers and leaves in cannabis can undoubtedly be caused by light bleaching too, but it’s clear that genetics certainly do have a role to play. If you have pics of this unusual phenomenon, why not post them in the comments and let us know all about it!

9 responses to “Does Albino Cannabis Really Exist?”

  1. Avatar Bill Hunter says:

    I’m not so sure you are correct. I’ve been breeding plants for around 40 years now, although not Cannabis, mainly orchids. Albinism isn’t caused by a lack of chlorophyll. An albino plant shows the same characteristics as a “normal” plant but the flowers lack pigment are usually pure white; they lack the pigments that other flowers contain. That’s not to say that all white flowers are albino. If there was no chlorophyll the plant wouldn’t survive beyond the seed leaf stage. A variegated plant has the same chlorophyll as others, but in variegation parts of the plant hide the chlorophyll giving it a green and white zonal effect. Some types of variegation are caused by light reflection, eg in the houseplant Pilea cadierei there is an air layer beneath the epidermis which causes a silvery white reflection. An albino plant contains chlorophyll within the plants making it look green, but the flowers have no colour pigment making them appear white because chlorophyll has no bearing on the flower colour. Another, similar, variety is lutea. The plant appears normal but all other pigments are non-existent in the flowers except for yellow.

    • Yosemite Steve says:

      This is not true. Chlorophyll is THE pigment associated with leaf coloration. Leaves that appear white are indeed lacking chlorophyll.

      • Leeroy Jenkins says:

        So how do you explain white flowers that still obviously have chlorophyll due to the fact that they’re alive? And if chlorophyll is the only pigment, how is it able to reflect all the different colors of vegetation? We have black roses and purple trees man, so I don’t see why cannabis couldn’t just be colored white like other plants and still contain chlorophyll

        • Seshata says:

          White flowers are flowers, not leaves. Flowers don’t need to photosynthesize sunlight to make energy. That’s what leaves do. Flowers can be whatever color they feel like like and it won’t affect the rate of photosynthesis.

          Leaves that appear purple but are still alive and vigorous are colored with another pigment, anthocyanin. They also contain chlorophyll, but the purple coloration is so strong that it dominates.

  2. lee247420 says:

    I’ve seen really White Leaf & Haired Cannabis but didn’t try it though . Didn’t care for the Smell of the Strain i saw , wasn’t appealing to me . Looked cool .

  3. Leeroy Jenkins says:

    P.S. Chlorophyll is absolutely not the only pigment, it’s simply the primary green pigment. There are Red and Yellow and Orange and Purple and likely others as well

  4. Desiree Stratford says:

    I hybridized a variegated medical cannabis strain that would exhibit up to eleven colors on a single leaf grown outside, in full sun. The seedlings are sometimes spotted, striped, multi colored with bright golden yellow hues against blue-green, twisting due to the difference of size similar to Japanese Maples. I suspect it might be due to the ploidity embedded into the multi expressed genetics. 7’+ height. I like to experiment with horticulture on occasion. Hobby.

  5. Donald Forest Berridge says:

    I’m dealing with true albino plants and they die after a few days. I’m going to graft the albino plants on to my green plants and see what happens?

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