Circulation of Water in Celery

This lesson developed by Jim and Leona Meeks

Recommended Ages: Preschool and Early Elementary


How does a plant absorb and circulate water?
Can I do an experiment to see how water circulates in a plant?

What You Need

  1. Glass
  2. Water
  3. Red food coloring
  4. Spoon
  5. Stalk of celery with leaves still on the top
  6. Knife
  7. Cutting Board

What You Do

  1. Fill your glass half full with water.

  2. Add eight to ten drops of red food coloring to the water in the glass.

  3. Use a spoon to stir the water and food coloring.

  4. Put the stalk of celery in the glass. The leaves should be at the top!

  5. Leave it alone for several hours or even overnight.

  6. Come back and look at the celery.

What is happening?

Do you see little red marks on the leaves? Take the celery out of the glass. On a cutting board, use a knife (with help from an adult) to make a cross section of the celery stalk. Look at the celery stalk. You will see lines or what we sometimes call "strings" of the celery are red. On the outer edge of the stalk you will also see little red dots.

We see evidence that water is absorbed or sucked up by a plant. It travels up the stalk and then into the leaves. This is how water is conducted and circulated in plants.

You may have fun trying this same experiment with Queen Anne's Lace or a white carnation.

Note: This experiment requires some leaves, since a plant's circulation is powered by "transpirational pull"—the leaves "breathing." You will also get better results if you cut the bottom of the stalk (or flower stem) to expose a fresh edge that has not become clogged or dried up.

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