Plant Chromatography

This experiment will answer the question “Is green the only color within a plants leaves?” 

These are the supplies needed to take the colors out of a leaf:
materials chromatography

-2 or 3 Leaves

-1 Plastic knife or spoon (Used to grind the leaf)

-Acetone or finger nail polish remover

-1 Strip of coffee filter paper

-1 Jar with lid

- Pair of Scissors


Take 2-3 large leaves and cut them into tiny pieces, and place them into a small jar with lid. HAVE AN ADULT HELP YOU!

leaf cutting

In an area with good ventilation, add enough acetone to just cover the leaves and then grind the leaves using the spoon or knife.
HAVE AN ADULT HELP YOU! (Acetone can be purchased at any hardware store in the paint section. Caution: acetone is highly flammable, and the fumes should not be breathed!) Loosely cover the jar and set it aside letting the acetone remove the color from the leaves. This can take up to 24 hours. The jar is done when the alcohol has picked up color from the leaves. The darker the color, the brighter the chromatogram will be.

leaf smashing

Cut or tear a long strip of coffee filter paper for each jar. Place one strip of paper into the jar, with one end in the alcohol and the other outside of the jar.
As the alcohol evaporates, it will pull the pigment up the paper, separating pigments according to size (largest will move the shortest distance).
coffee filter cutting

Let the paper sit in the jar until colors can be seen moving up the strip of paper When desired results are obtained remove the strips of paper and allow them to dry. Now observe the different colors that have moved on to the coffee filter. This shows that there is more then just green pigments in a leaf.

Be sure to try this experiment with different leaves and even fruits and vegetables to see all the different colors that exist within plants. In our experiment we used a green leaf but in the picture below you can clearly see green, brown, and yellow.

end chromatography