Make a Leaf Skeleton

September 2, 2014 3:22 pm

Remove leaf tissue to see a beautiful “skeleton” of veins! This project can be done with a variety of fresh leaves in the spring, summer, or autumn.

You will need



Soda Crystals (Sodium Carbonate) – from supermarkets

Small saucepan






Go out and collect some leaves – this should be fun in itself at any time of year. Choose large leaves that are colourful and not dried out.


Weigh out 30 g of soda crystals into the saucepan and dissolve in 500mls of water.

Heat the mixture over a ring or hotplate. An adult should do this. When the mixture is almost to a boil and bubbles appear on the surface, take it off the heat, and put the leaves you have selected into the pan. Let them soak for 30 minutes.


Remove each leaf carefully from the pan with the tweezers. Gently wash the leaves with cool water. Use a paintbrush to carefully lift away the small bits of leaf cell remaining around the skeleton.


What’s happening?


The part of the leaf you can see now is a complex pattern of hollow veins making up the leaf’s skeleton.  A leaf’s veining system provides food and water to the rest of its cells. Since the leaf is no longer getting the nutrients it needs from the ground through the stem of the plant or tree trunk, its tissue will break down easily. All that remains is the delicate system of veins that make a lacy pattern! Try framing your leaf skeleton, or using it to decorate a homemade card.



Further Information 


Sodium carbonate (also known as washing soda or soda ash), Na2CO3, is a sodium salt of carbonic acid. Sodium carbonate is domestically well known for its everyday use as a water softener. It can be extracted from the ashes of many plants. It is synthetically produced in large quantities from salt (sodium chloride) and limestone in a process known as the Solvay process.



Thanks to and adapted from and wikipaedia.
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