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Sugar, starch or cellulose?

What sort of carbohydrates do plants make?

Students Sheet
Glucose and other sugars such as sucrose and fructose are soluble so need to
be linked together in long chains to make substances like starch and cellulose.
Starch is useful for storing sugar. Cellulose is used to build plant cell walls.
If we want to find evidence of glucose, starch and cellulose in plants, we can test
for these different carbohydrates with iodine solution (for starch), enedict!s
reagent (for sugars) and Schul"e!s reagent (for cellulose).
#ach group will need$
% &ne white tile
% ' knife(scalpel
% ' pestle and mortar
% &ne boiling tube
% &ne small bottle of iodine solution
% &ne small bottle of enedict!s reagent
% )hree samples of each plant e.g. onion, apple, grape, celery, potato
*aterials to be shared$
'ccess to a water bath set at +,
% )ake care with knives and scalpels.
% &nly the teacher should handle Schul"e!s reagent. )his is corrosive.
% )ake care with hot water in the water bath
Investigating starch, sugar and cellulose
-. Collect three samples of each plant you want to test. .or each sample you
collect think about what part of the plant this has come from. &nions for e/ample
are an underground storage organ0 apples are the fruit and celery is a leaf stalk.
.ill in the first column of your results table to describe which part of the plant you
are testing.
Science & Plants for Schools: www.saps.org.uk
Sugar, starch or cellulose? p. 1
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1. 2lace two samples of each plant on a white tile or other non3absorbent
surface. 4ou may want to break the structure up a little with a knife or scalpel.
5. 2lace the third in a pestle and mortar and grind it up with a little water. )hen
place it into a boiling tube and cover it with enedict!s solution. 2lace this tube in
water bath set at +,
C and leave it for 6 minutes while you carry out the other
7. Go back to your first two samples on the white tile. 2lace a few drops of iodine
solution on one of the samples and ask your teacher to place a few drops of
Schul"e!s reagent on the other. 8eave for a few minutes so the indicator has time
to soak into the plant material.
6. 9ecord your observations in the results table.
)o test for glucose you add enedicts! reagent and place in a water bath at +,oC
for 6 minutes. If glucose is present the colour changes from blue to orange
(sometimes it takes a while and the colour looks a green yellow as it is
)o test for starch you add iodine solution. If starch is present the reddish brown
iodine solution changes to a blue black colour. )o test for cellulose you add
Schul"e!s reagent. If cellulose is present it will turn a purple colour.
-. :hat did your results show;
1. 9emind yourself < where do the atoms that make up these carbohydrates
come from;
)ake small pieces of cotton wool(paper towel or packaging from an egg bo/.
2lace on a white tile. )ry adding iodine solution and Shul"e!s reagent to each.
:here do the products come from; Can you e/plain your observations by
thinking about how these products are made;

Science & Plants for Schools: www.saps.org.uk
Sugar, starch or cellulose? p. "
This document may be copied for educational use. e!ised "#1".