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This is a discussion on Colorful Roots! Very pretty...LOL! within the General Orchid Culture forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; The amount of purplish in the roots is due to acanthocyanin production in the plant. ...
The amount of purplish in the roots is due to acanthocyanin production in the plant. The plants that have root tips that tend to purplish often have leaves that tend toward purplish as well. They often seem to have flowers that tend toward pinkish to reddish.
If you want some really interesting root tips, try growing Pleurothallis tribuloides. The root tips are a brilliant reddish orange that can often confuse you into thinking you have buds when a root tip grows up near a leaf axil.
as prem said, the reddish coloration is due to anthocyanins. the production of this pigment is accentuated by two factors: high light and cool temps. it protects the plant against the damage of intense sunlight; i don't know the mechanism behind it. i have no idea why its production is increased by cool temps. but that is why giving red-flowered orchids in certain genera (i.e. catts) high light & cool temps can bring out the most vibrant reds. the cool temps really exert a striking effect on phrag besseae flowers. the same plant that may produce decidedly orange flowers in summer may produce intensely red flowers in winter.
i have not noticed any consistent correlation between anthocyanin production on leaves & roots to flower color, other than the fact that the true albas usually have a block in the production of these pigments, and are therefore unable to produce red leaves/bulbs/roots. i have seen some of the most intensely brick red root tips on phals that were almost completely white, with just a touch of red in the lip. this is in contrast to vinicolor paphs, where the presence or absence of anthocyanin pigment on the leaf bases is strongly linked to flower color.