Cannabis Albinos
4 min

A Closer Look At Cannabis Albinos

4 min

Although rare, albinism in cannabis plants is not unheard of. It is something that the few unlucky growers will encounter in their time. Here is what causes it, and some ideas on how it can possibly be dealt with if you want to try and keep your white little beauty alive - it will certainly make for eye-catching bud if you can manage it.

Picture cannabis buds as white as the necks of swans. Albino weed is a real thing; just like other plants, cannabis can also be affected by albinism. Albinism affects a plant's ability to produce chlorophyll, which is responsible for giving it its bright green colouration. But what exactly is cannabis albinism? What causes it and what effect does it have on a plant and its buds?

In this article we take an in-depth look at cannabism albinism and do our best to answer all of these questions.



Albinism is a complex condition that has been well documented in humans, where it causes a lack of pigmentation in the skin, hair, and eyes. Humans with albinism are usually extremely pale and have white body hair and red eyes, although this isn’t always the case.

In humans, albinism can lead to a number of health issues, including vision problems, as well as an increased susceptibility to skin conditions, sunburn, and melanomas caused by an increased photosensitivity.

Albinism isn’t a uniquely human condition, however; it can also affect other animals and plants. Some famous albino animals include Snowflake The Gorilla, Claude The Alligator, and Snowdrop The Penguin.


Albinism In Cannabis Plants: Fact Or Fiction?

Albinism can affect a wide variety of plants including cannabis. Albinism in plants is characterized by a partial loss of chlorophyll (pigments giving plants their green colour) as well as red and yellow pigments. This lack of chlorophyll affects a plant’s ability to photosynthesize, reducing its chances at survival.

Albinism in plants like cannabis is rare but not unheard of. Albino cannabis plants are a pure, almost snow-white colour due to a diminished amount of chlorophyll. Plants can be completely albino or only in certain parts of the plants (like particularly buds, leaves, or branches).


New York White: An Urban Legend

Arguably one of the most famous stories about albino cannabis is that of New York White, a mythical strain rumoured to originate from New York City’s underground sewer network.

Weed folklore has it that a unique strain of super-potent albino weed was growing in the sewers beneath New York City. These plants were said to have sprouted from seeds flushed down the toilet during drug busts and genetically mutated over time due to the lack of light underground. The occasional daredevil would then sneak into the sewers to harvest extremely potent snow-white buds from these plants. The strain was eventually named New York White.

While it is an attractive story (just like the old sewer alligator stories told about New York), we can be almost completely sure that it is not true. Cannabis plants cannot naturally survive without light and/or nutrients. Nonetheless, the story of New York White still makes for a fun piece of weed folklore.


What Causes Albinism In Cannabis Plants?

Albinism in cannabis plants is rare. However, it has been observed in plants all around the world and is believed to have two main causes.

Albinism in plants, just like in humans, is primarily a genetic anomaly. It is a recessive genetic trait and is known to make plants weaker, seeing as their ability to photosynthesize is greatly diminished by their lack of chlorophyll. Plants are not necessarily totally albino; certain parts of the plant can display the unique white traits, while others may seem to grow normally.

Some albino plant species, like the Albino Redwood for example, have been shown to survive without photosynthesizing at all. However, this trait hasn’t yet been observed in cannabis plants, and weed plants with albinism are typically thought to die if they’re not given special care.

The second major cause of albinism in cannabis plants is environmental factors, particularly light exposure. This is also known as light bleaching, and usually affects parts of indoor plants located too close to a grow light. Light bleaching is rare in outdoor plants.

This overexposure to the light eventually damages chlorophyll, affecting the plant’s ability to photosynthesize. Light bleaching is a major source of stress for cannabis plants and is never desirable. Light bleaching will usually only affect the parts of a plant which receive too much light. If you observe light bleaching on your plants, you may be able to salvage them using nutrients and light changes (which we’ll explore below).


How To Deal With Albino Plants

Working with albino plants is difficult. Due to their diminished ability to photosynthesize, these plants usually require a lot of extra attention. Here are some ways you can try to salvage albino cannabis plants:

- Sugar supplements: In the early 20th century, researchers observed albinism in corn plants. They tested how supplemental sugars affected the plants and found that lifespan and fruit production increased in plants that were given extra sugars with their regular nutrients. The plants that went without the added sugars died, noted the researchers. While these studies haven’t been replicated on cannabis plants, it's worth trying this technique on albino plants regardless.

- Light adjustments: Seeing that light bleaching is another major cause of albinism in cannabis plants, it is a good idea to adjust your lighting if you’re working with albino plants. Again, while no studies have looked at this subject in detail, it would make sense to adjust the height and strength of your grow lights in order to reduce their negative effects on your plants. Consider using lower watt LED grow lights and keeping them further away from your plants than normal. You’ll still want to make sure that your entire canopy gets decent light coverage but will want to avoid causing any extra light stress by having the plants too close to the lights.


How Does Albinism Affect Your Plants?

As we mentioned earlier, the main effect of albinism on cannabis plants is a great reduction in chlorophyll. Seeing as chlorophyll is central to the process of photosynthesis, cannabis plants with the albino trait struggle to turn light into energy. This usually results in slower growth and smaller yields.

Growers will usually agree that plants that display the albino trait early on usually aren’t worth keeping. Some even suggest that albino plants will struggle to produce high concentrations of cannabinoids due to their inability to create adequate energy for this process. Again, no studies have looked into this hypothesis, but it at least seems logical in theory.

So there you have it; an in-depth look at albino cannabis plants. To avoid dealing with albinos in your garden, we always recommend order your seeds from respected seedbanks and paying close attention to your lighting if growing indoors.

Steven Voser
Steven Voser
Steven Voser is an independent cannabis journalist with over 6 years of experience writing about all things weed; how to grow it, how best to enjoy it, and the booming industry and murky legal landscape surrounding it.
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