What colour are leaves?

What colour are leaves?

Are all leaves the same colour?

It's autumn and the leaves are changing colour. It's the best time to investigate what colour leaves really are!

What you need:

  • 2 large green leaves
  • 2 large orange or yellow leaves
  • Surgical spirit / rubbing alcohol (you can get this from high street chemists)
  • Coffee filters or filter paper
  • Scissors
  • 4 small glasses

Autumn leaves med_91773501

How to:

Ask an adult for help with surgical spirit and scissors.

  1. Tear up the first leaf into small pieces and put the pieces in one of the glasses. Repeat for each leaf. Make sure you can remember which leaf is in each glass!
  2. Cover the pieces of leaf with surgical spirit.
  3. Stir the leaves around. Wait for half an hour or until the liquid in the glasses has turned a dark colour. Standing the glasses in a tray of warm water will speed it up.
  4. Cut four strips out of the coffee filters. Place one end of the strip in the liquid. Let the other end hang over the edge of the glass. Repeat for each glass.
  5. Wait for about half an hour, and then look at the strips of filter paper. What do you see?

You should see faint lines of different colours. Are the colours different from different leaves?

Autumn tree_94557116

What's happening:

The colours on the filter paper are the colours found in the leaves. Some colours move faster through the filter paper than other colours. This makes the colours separate so you can see them all.

When you look at the filter paper from the green leaves you should see a green colour and some other colours - maybe yellow, brown or orange. Different leaves are made up of different colours. These other colours are the colour the leaves will turn in autumn. In the coffee filter from the orange and yellow leaves there won't be any green colour. The green colour disappears in autumn when the leaves change colour.

To find out why leaves change colour in autumn, have a look at our amazing autumn cartoon!

Curriculum information

  • Summary

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    Curriculum key wordsOther web links
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    National CurriculumCurriculum for excellenceNorthern Ireland Curriculum
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