Broccoli Turning Purple? Blame It On Anthocyanin

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If you notice your broccoli turning purple, don’t panic! This is common during colder weather, especially when the soil is deficient in nutrients like phosphorus or nitrogen. The purple color is caused by a release of anthocyanin, a pigment that responds to stressful conditions.

While it may not be the most aesthetically pleasing, the purple coloring is not harmful to the plant and won’t affect the health of the broccoli heads. There are also things you can do to prevent your broccoli from turning purple – we’ll go into all the details below.

There is actually a variety of broccoli called ‘purple sprouting broccoli’ that naturally grows purple leaves and individual florets. It’s one of my favorite varieties to grow – there’s a photo below that shows just how gorgeous this vegetable is!

Purple sprouting broccoli is a cool-weather crop with the same nutritional benefits as regular broccoli. However, it also contains higher levels of nucleic acids. This makes it an excellent choice for boosting immune health and improving digestion.

While the sight of purple coloring on your broccoli heads or leaves may be alarming, it’s nothing to worry about. And who knows, with some creative cooking, you may even appreciate the unique and vibrant color that your broccoli is sporting!

Why Broccoli Turn Purple

Broccoli plants are usually green, so when they turn purple, it may indicate an issue to be aware of. Let’s look at some possible causes.

  1. Nutrient deficiencies can exhibit various symptoms, such as discolored leaves, stunted growth, or purple fruit, stems, and leaves. For instance, phosphorus deficiency can cause slow growth and purplish coloring, while nitrogen deficiency leads to yellowing of the leaves. Potassium deficiency leads to brown spots on leaves and stunted growth. If you have problems with your broccoli, consider doing a soil test to check for nutrient deficiencies.
  2. Poor soil conditions can also contribute to purple leaves and fruit. If the soil is too acidic, soggy, or lacks organic matter, it can affect the plant’s ability to absorb nutrients, leading to color changes.
  3. Prolonged periods of cold temperatures can cause purple coloring on your broccoli. Broccoli is a cool-weather crop that grows best in temperatures between 55 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature drops too low, it may turn purple.
  4. Overfertilizing (fertilizer burn) can cause nutrient imbalances in the soil and lead to purple leaves.
  5. Disease, including fungal diseases.
  6. Insect damage or infestation.
  7. Not enough sunlight. Ensure your broccoli is planted in an area with at least six hours of direct sunlight daily.
  8. Your broccoli may be a purple variety, in which case the purple coloring is natural.

Basically, anything that stresses the plant out. Stress releases anthocyanin, the pigment that causes the purple coloring.

Can You Eat Purple Broccoli?

Yes, you can eat purple broccoli. In fact, the purple pigment that gives it its purple color, anthocyanin, is a beneficial and harmless antioxidant linked to various health benefits.

Before eating the purple broccoli, inspect the plant for any diseases or pests. Always wash your broccoli thoroughly, too.

Keep reading!

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