Leaves contain different pigments, which give them their color. Green chlorophyll is the most common type of pigment, but there are also cartenoids (yellow, orange) and anthocyanins (red). Chlorophyll, which is essential for photosynthesis, usually hides the other pigments, except when autumn comes along and it begins to break down. This is why leaves turn different colors in the fall. Do this project to see the hidden colors in a green leaf and predict what color it will be in the fall! (Adult supervision recommended.)
Keep leaves from different trees separate and follow the steps below for each set of leaves, so you can compare results.
A bit of the mixture will travel slowly up the paper. After about 30-90 minutes you should be able to see the "green" color break up into several different colors as the different pigments begin to separate. You'll see different shades of green, and perhaps other colors as well. Which leaves had the most colorful pigments? Based on your experiment, which trees' leaves do you think will turn the brightest and least brightest colors this fall?