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What Colour is plum red?

What Colour is plum red?

Plum red is a rich, deep reddish-purple color that takes its name from the plum fruit. It sits between burgundy and true purple on the color wheel, making it a vibrant and eye-catching shade. But what exactly gives plum red its distinctive hue? Here we’ll take a closer look at the origins and attributes of this regal color.

The Origins of Plum Red

The name “plum” refers to a group of fruit-bearing trees in the genus Prunus, which includes varieties like plums, damsons, and gages. These fruits typically have a blue-black skin and juicy, reddish-purple flesh. It is the rich color of ripe plum flesh that gives us the distinctive reddish-purple shade known as plum red.

While plum red takes its name from the fruit, the first recorded use of “plum” to describe a color actually dates back to 1705. At that time, it referred to a brownish-purple shade. By the mid-1800s, “plum color” was being used to describe deeper reddish hues. Plum red as we know it today came into common use in the early 20th century.

Many fruits, vegetables, and flowers provided inspiration for color names over the centuries. Joining plum red are shades like peach, cherry, strawberry, and cranberry reds. The juicy hues of plums and other produce captured people’s imaginations and gave us a vocabulary for describing rich variations of red.

Characteristics of Plum Red

So what sets plum red apart from other shades of red and purple? Here are some of its defining characteristics:

  • Warm, reddish undertone – Plum red contains strong red pigments, giving it a warmer undertone compared to cooler purples.
  • Deep, saturated color – Plum red is much darker and richer than light reds like salmon or pink. The color is intense and saturated.
  • Slight blue tint – While dominantly red, plum red has a subtle bluish undertone. This keeps it from appearing orange and gives it a purple quality.
  • Regal elegance – Plum red is associated with luxury and royalty. It brings to mind medieval tapestries, velvet robes, and gemstones like garnets and rubies.
  • Fruit-inspired – Thanks to its name, plum red evokes ripe, juicy plums and other richly-hued red and purple fruits.

Unlike fire engine red or hot pink, plum red has a touch of refinement about it. But it maintains the drama and boldness of a saturated red. This blend of elegance and vibrancy makes plum red a versatile and visually striking color.

Plum Red Hex Codes

On the RGB color model used for digital displays, plum red is created by combining strong red and blue light. The exact ratio of red to blue can be tweaked to produce variations of plum red.

Here are some common hexadecimal RGB codes for shades of plum red:

Plum Red Shade Hex Code
Rich plum red #9C005D
Dark plum red #8E4585
Royal plum red #780150
Medium plum red #CB5D8C
Light plum red #E56EB1

The hex codes above range from deeper plummy reds to lighter pinkish reds while keeping that characteristic plum red color profile. Website designers, graphic artists, and anyone who uses color codes can plug these values into HTML, CSS, print materials, and more.

Plum Red in Design and Fashion

Plum red can make a bold, luxurious color statement in a variety of contexts. Here are some of the ways this eye-catching shade is used in design and fashion:

  • Web design – Plum red works well for accents like call-to-action buttons or highlights on menus. It draws attention while providing good color contrast against white backgrounds.
  • Logos and branding – Plum red’s upscale vibe makes it an elegant choice for beauty, jewelry, fashion, or culinary brands wanting to stand out.
  • Print design – Dark plum red can substitute for black in designs needing a bolder, warmer color. Lighter plum reds nicely complement neutral palettes.
  • Home decor – Plum red makes a dramatic accent color for pillows, rugs, and wall decor. Deeper shades work well with metallics and black accents.
  • Clothing – In women’s fashion, plum red is a refined alternative to true red. It pairs nicely with creams, grays, and rich purple tones.
  • Makeup – Plum red lipstick flatters a wide range of skin tones. Eyeshadow and blush in plum red shades also create a glamorous effect.

From adding vibrancy to monochrome designs to providing an elegant touch to decor and fashion, plum red’s versatility makes it a staple shade for creatives.

Plum Red Dye and Pigments

Those looking to reproduce the plum red color have a few options when it comes to dyes, paints, and pigments. Here are some ways to achieve plum red hues:

  • Carmine – This natural red dye derived from cochineal insects can create crimson plum shades.
  • Alizarin – An organic compound historically derived from the madder plant root. It provides a cool, purple-leaning plum red.
  • Phthalo red – A synthetic organic pigment available in plum red hues. Its tolerance for fading makes it ideal for automotive and industrial applications.
  • Quinacridone – A modern synthetic pigment used in paints, printing, and plastics to achieve deep plum reds.
  • Dioxazine purple – Mixing this vivid purple pigment with cadmium red creates a rich plum red tone.

Today, plum red dyes and pigments span natural, organic, and synthetic sources. Brands like Derwent, Winsor & Newton, and Daler-Rowney offer pre-mixed plum red watercolors, acrylics, marker pens, and colored pencils for artists.

Plum Red in Nature

In addition to plums and other fruits, plum red hues occur naturally across the plant and animal kingdoms. Here are some examples of plum red tones found in nature:

  • Red cabbage leaves
  • Poinsettia bracts
  • Purpleheart wood
  • Some orchid flowers
  • Ruby-throated hummingbird feathers
  • Timpetrum berries
  • Purple emperor butterfly wings
  • Plumage of cotinga birds

These vivid natural examples demonstrate plum red’s blend of cool blue and warm red tones. When trying to replicate plum red, looking to fruits, flowers, birds, and other colorful living things can provide helpful inspiration.


With its royal purple-red tones, plum red is a dramatic, elegant color that pops in any context. Whether seen in ripe fruit, vibrant blooms, exotic birds, or regal fabrics, this saturated reddish hue has always drawn the human eye. As a color name, plum red gives us a way to describe the exact fusion of red’s warmth and purple’s coolness. Its natural origins and appealing boldness ensure plum red will continue captivating us wherever it appears.