Summer’s End: Dyeing Queen Anne’s Lace

When I was little, one of my favorite summer things my mom would do with my siblings and I was to dye Queen Anne’s Lace. The flower is abundant and grows along every road (or so it seems). We would pick some, then take them home and put them in glasses or jars of water we dyed with food coloring. Then magic happened! Those pristine white flowers changed color, becoming lovely shades of the rainbow. It’s science and art in one!queen annes laceThis being one of my favorite childhood memories meant I had to do this with my sweet little kiddo. He was just as delighted watching them change color as I remember being.queen annes lace2

The science behind it? “The leaves and petals of plants have lots of small holes called stomates. They’re too small to see. Water evaporates through these holes. This is called transpiration. After the water evaporates, the plant needs more water to grow. If the flower is planted in soil, the roots of the plant get the water from the soil and then the water travels up through its stem. But, if the flower is in a container of water, it doesn’t have any roots so it just sucks up the water through its stem.” (Thank you, PBS. Quote credit here.) Or for other sciencey words (from Fireflies&Mudpies): “Plants use cohesion and capillary action to pull water up through the xylem that runs through a plant’s stem. As the plant transpires, water evaporates from the flowers leaving the color behind.”queen annes lace3

Magic, art, science, and uncomplicated fun. It really is those quiet, simple moments that have lasting power.


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