Friday, March 14, 2014

Science Along the Way: Flower Coloring in Reverse

My parents bought  flowers to celebrate our new little one.  These particular flowers were chosen by my four-year-old.  You may recognize that they are dyed.

In addition to giving a vibrant spring look, dying various types of white flowers is a common demonstration of a plant's circulation system.  We were surprised, to see the flowers start to un-dye after a day or so.  If you look carefully at the base of the vase, you can see the dye.  White streaks began to appear on the flowers.

Of course the question from my children was "Why?"  I had to pull out Biology by Raven and Johnson (Wow, my addition is old now!).  I learned that with the exception of calcium, particles that the xylem carries up, will travel down through the phloem with the water.  For some reason,  I had believed that minerals from the ground had a one-way ticket, but that is not the case.  In fact, we could see dye oosing from the leaves and stems as well.  Apparently, unless the plant's cells grab them and use them, the particles just circulate through the plant with the water.

It's always a good day to see something new!

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  1. We did a similar experiment with celery, where we put dye into the water, and we saw the celery change color as the capillary action caused the color to go up the stem.

    1. That would be a good way to observe the process from the beginning. We may try it.