Variegated leaf

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Variegated leaves of the ficus aspera

A variegated leaf is a leaf which contains both green and non green parts. As the green parts contain chlorophyll they can photosynthesise, but the non green parts do not contain chlorophyll so they cannot photosynthesise.

Uses[change | change source]

A variegated leaf is useful in conducting experiments to show that chlorophyll is needed for photosynthesis to happen. They are also popular in horticulture.

Experiments[change | change source]

The easiest of these experiments is to stain the places where starch is produced (starch is a more compact form of glucose).

Place the leaves in boiling water for five minutes to soften the cells, and then in ethanol (alcohol). When the leaves are drained of colour, spread them out on a flat surface. Soak the leaves in iodine and the green parts will turn blue/black and the non green parts will stay the yellowish brown colour of iodine liquid. The green parts contain starch, which makes iodine turn blue/black. The blue/black stain is what shows starch is present. You could take "before & after" photos to prove the black areas were green at the start.