It is estimated that there are between 300,000 and 315,000 species of plants on Earth. The largest grouping in the plant family is the flowering plants, of which there are over 258,000 different species. The vast majority of plants are green, although there are some species that do not have this coloration. If you have ever wondered what makes plants this color, keep reading to find out.
Why are plants green?
Green plants contain a substance called chlorophyll, also written chlorophyl, which is the substance that gives the plant the green color. Chlorophyll is extremely important for the process of photosynthesis, which is how plants obtain energy from light. Chlorophyll is best at absorbing light from the blue and red portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, but is not very efficient at absorbing the green part of this spectrum. This means that the plant cells that contain chlorophyll will appear green because they reflect most of the green light while absorbing the other colors in the spectrum.
Did you know?
There are 6 different types of chlorophyll that have been discovered. The most recent, chlorophyll f, was discovered in 2010.
Chlorophyll was first isolated from plant cells in 1817 by French chemists Joseph Bienaimé Caventou and Pierre Joseph Pelletier. They also isolated many other important compounds including caffeine, strychnine and quinine. Quinine was later discovered to be a remedy to treat malaria.
Chlorophyll can be used in cooking as a natural green coloring agent. It is recorded on the ingredient list as E140.