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Colouring a white flower

Leave a white flower in food dye to colour the petals. The dye traces out the xylem vessels in the stem and branching vessels in the petals of the flower.
Science content (2016 curriculum): 
Biology: Features, Adaptations of Living Things (K, 1, 3, 7)
  • White carnation
  • Food dye, in narrow tube that can hold carnation (darker colours work better)
  • Tray to hold tube

Cut the stem of a white carnation (or other white flower).
Stand the flower in a tube of food colouring for an hour or more (test to check).
Watch for the petals turning the colour of the food dye.

Cut the stem after colouring (to remove mess)


See How do plants eat? for similar, faster activity with just the petal of the flower.

Grades taught: 
Gr K
Gr 1
Gr 2
Gr 3
Teaching site: 
American Museum of Natural History
General Gordon Elementary Science Club
After School Program at Elementary schools in New York City