What’s Chlorophyll? It is a natural chemical that makes plants green! Chlorophyll is found not only in plants but also in algae and some bacteria.
Chlorophyll has a molecular structure in which Magnesium is located at the center, and plants that contain chlorophyll are autotrophs, meaning that they are able to create the nutrients that they need internally. Chlorophyll is found in tiny organelles called chloroplasts. Chloroplasts are the food producers for plants. They make the sugar and starch to give plants energy.
Chlorophyll is the molecule that allows for plants to undergo the photosynthetic process. This allow for plants to utilize light from the sun to create the necessary nutrients for continued growth and health. During this process, chlorophyll uses sunlight, water and carbon dioxide to create food energy for the plant.
Chlorophyll keeps plants green and alive! By performing our Smarty Plants experiment, found on our experiment page, you can extract or remove the chlorophyll from spinach leaves. In concluding the experiment, you will end up with a green liquid. That is chlorophyll!
Leaf color comes from pigments. Pigments are natural substances produced by leaf cells. The three pigments that color leaves are:
chlorophyll (which produces the green color)
carotenoid(produces yellow, orange, and brown colors)
anthocyanin (produces a red color)
Chlorophyll is the most important of the three. Leaves contain chlorophyll in order to use the sunlight to produce its own food through the process of photosynthesis.
Carotenoids are organic pigments that are found in the chloroplasts and chromoplasts of plants and some other photosynthetic organisms. Carotenoids create bright yellows and oranges in familiar fruits and vegetables. For example, corn, carrots, and bananas to name a few.
Anthocyanins are pigments that may appear red, purple, or blue depending on the pH, they add the color red to plants, including cranberries, red apples, cherries, strawberries and others.
In the fall, because of changes in the length of daylight and changes in temperature, the leaves stop their food-making process. The chlorophyll breaks down, the green color disappears, and the yellow to orange colors become visible. Most anthocyanins are produced only in autumn, and only under certain conditions. Not all trees can make anthocyanin, but sugar maples seem to have the easiest time in doing so.
Resources: State of New York: College of Environmental Science and Forestry: http://www.esf.edu/
Dnr.wi.gov- Environmental Education for Kids: http://dnr.wi.gov/org/caer/ce/eek/veg/trees/treestruecolor.htm