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Celery transpiration experiment

Related experiment: make different coloured petals

You will need:

 
  • 1 x Bunch of Celery
  • 1 x Cup of Water (roughly 400mL)
  • Food Colouring
  • 1 x Sharp Knife and chopping board (adult help please!)
  • Somewhere to leave the experiment undisturbed

    Celery transpiration experiment materials
    You can find everything you need for this experiment in the local shops!

Instructions

 
  1. Take one stick of celery off the bunch and cut the bottom 2 cm off of the stick. Careful; choose a length of celery that won't tip over your cup of water when it's placed in the cup.

    cutting celery end off with a knife
    Use adult help when cutting the celery
     
  2. Add some food colouring to the cup of water (make the colour quite dark).
     
  3. Put the cut end of the stick of celery into the cup of darkly coloured water.

    food colouring and celery stick
    The celery should be able to lean against the cup without tipping it over.
     
  4. Leave the cup and celery for at least half an hour. Check on the leaves regularly to see if there is any discolouration at the ends of the leaves.

    celery leaves without food colour  ....changes to... discoloured celery leaves
     
  5. Cut the celery stick around halfway up, and have a look at the inside of the stem. 
    Can you see where the food colouring went?

    cut celery showing vascular bundles
    Look near the outside of the cut celery stem...
     
  6. Try testing different variables (different colours, different plant types, sugar or salt in the water etc).
celery leaves without food colour
Find the vascular bundles in celery with this simple experiment!

Why Does This Happen?

You should have seen that the food coloured water travelled up the stem of the celery and into the leaves.
How does food colour get up there? Gravity should be holding the water down right?

Water is found all the way through the celery: in the stems, the leaves and the roots. The water in the leaves of the celery evaporates through the surface of the leaves, and this leaves a space inside the leaves where the water was. This process is called transpiration. That new empty space inside the leaves creates low pressure, and like a drinking straw this low pressure allows water below the leaf to travel up the stem. You’ll see the little tubes the water travels up when you cut the celery stem, and you can see the colour up in the leaves. These tubes are called Xylem and are part of the plant's vascular system. This how plants transport the water and nutrients from the soil up to the very highest leaves. By the way, the tubes that transport sugars from the leaves downwards are called phloem).

Related experiment: make different coloured petals

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