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Interesting Things About Purple

Purple is the symbol of royalty. Today we take this color for granted because we’ve found cheaper methods to dye things, but at one time purple items were a valuable trade good. I don’t really want to go into trade routes and other boring stuff like that, just know that the original purple was difficult and expensive to make. As you’ve probably already figured out, today our blog explores interesting facts about this color that you may not know.

Purple is important in the LGBTQA community.

Lavender or violet is the color representing lesbians. Purple is also a part of the rainbow pride flag and stands for spirit. The asexual pride flag also includes purple as one of its three colors, the other two being black and gray.

Purple dye has a disgusting history.

Tyrian purple, a type of dye popular in the ancient world, is made from the mucous glands of a sea snail. The snails were crushed and boiled down for 10 days, which proved to be rather smelly work. It took over 10,000 snails to make an ounce of this dye. If that isn’t bad enough we have another ancient purple dye made from lichen and fermented pee, the only source of ammonia in that time period.

Purple was a status symbol in ancient Rome.

Speaking of ancient civilizations, as you can imagine, this snail dye was extremely expensive and, therefore, was only available to the Roman elite. Stripes of color on one’s toga were used to show wealth and power. In the case of purple, it was reserved exclusively for the Roman Senate.

Some violets are edible.

In fact, the blue violet is a good source of vitamins C and A. Violets can be ground down into syrups, steeped in teas, and baked into gourmet desserts. They are also often used as garnishes for soups, salads, and desserts.

There are purple cats.

Technically they are called lavender or lilac cats. The color isn’t a true purple but rather a faded version of a chocolate cat, giving them a light reddish-brown hue. Some cats come with lilac colored noses and paw pads. This author has also encountered a litter of kittens with purplish stripes, who were born to a lilac point Siamese.

A lot of black items are actually purple.

Black currents and blackberries are actually a very dark purple color. The famous black tulip comes in a similar shade or may be a purple-brown color. Ravens, which are considered black birds, actually contain multiple shades within their iridescent feathers, including purple.

Ultraviolet radiation can be a pain in the ass.

Especially if you fall asleep on your stomach on a nude beach. That’s right, ultraviolet light is responsible for those sunburns that are the bane of beach life. Not only does it cause sunburns, it can lead to skin cancer and eye diseases. And it’s not just humans who have the problem, either. Ultraviolet radiation can kill insects and viruses (okay, so maybe it’s not so bad), and it fades paint on cars.

Insects see different colors than humans.

It’s not just the segmented eyes that allow insects to see different from human beings, they also see on a different color range. They have great difficulty seeing on the red, orange, and yellow end of the electromagnetic spectrum. However, they are capable of seeing ultraviolet light, an ability that humans sorely lack.

There is a disease that gives you purple pee.

The condition is known as purple urine bag syndrome or PUBS for short. This rare disease is actually the side effect of a severe urinary tract infection in catheterized patients. No one knows exactly what causes the color change in the urine bag, but it is thought to be some chemical reaction between the bacteria and existing substances in the urine itself. Some medications and dyes can also purple your pee.

Purple Haze is a type of marijuana.

This variety of pot is named for the little purple hairs that color the buds. It is more potent than other strains of the plant and is said to have more THC. Users have described a psychedelic effect from use of this particular variety. This may have inspired the Jimi Hendrix song. However, there are reports saying he wrote the song after a strange dream involving images within a purple mist, not from use of the drug.

Though I don’t have a number one favorite color, purple comes close. Just don’t send me anything in yellow or brown. Yech! Anyway, this was partially why I thought of using purple as this week’s random topic. Perhaps in the future I will write about other colors. So what’s your favorite?


University of Michigan-

World History Encyclopedia-

Gardening Know How-

My Lovely Feline-

Mayo Clinic-

Centers for Disease Control-

Purdue University-

National Institutes of Health-

Way of the Leaf-

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