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The methods commonly used in determining the moisture, dry matter,

organic matter and ash contents of plant tissue samples was familiarized and
the composition of the plant sample was also determined. It was done by
weighing the fresh weight(62.3g, whole plant), heating in an oven, weighing
again to get the dry weight(16.4g, whole plant), combusting or ashing and
the last weighing to get the ash weight(5.3g, whole plant). The weights were
used in calculating the other composition of the plant sample. Thus, there are
proper and common methods used to determine gross composition of plants
through separated processes that eliminates specific component each.
Generally, plants are composed of water, organic and inorganic
compounds. Water is the principal component of plants which is important for
growth and development. It comprises 70 to 90 percent of plants total
weight. Soil is the water source for terrestrial plants. It is an abundant source
of water even some appears dry. Water and nutrients are being absorbed
through root hairs and transported by the xylem and phloem. It is also
important to maintain the turgidity of cell.
For plants to develop all necessary elements must be available. These
are the organic compounds that occur naturally which when any of these was
excluded or depleted would cause death of organism: Carbon, Hydrogen,
Oxygen and Nitrogen. Inorganic components are those absorbed by the
plants directly from the surrounding which is necessary to be elaborated into

organic compounds by the plant before they can be assimilated by the body.
The changing of inorganic matter into organic matter takes place principally
in the green leaves of the plant by means of photosynthesis.
A plants composition depends on the kind of environment. When
measuring actual amount of plant matter, the dry weight is considered
instead of the fresh because it excludes water, nutrients and other
compounds the plant holds. Combusting through controlled temperature to
reduce the material to a grayish white carbon-free ash. During combustion,
soil OM undergoes a series of physical and chemical transformations (Chandler and others

A study was done in the Biology laboratory of SLSU, July 26, 2015. It
was done to be familiar with the methods commonly used in determining the
moisture, dry matter, organic matter and ash contents of plant tissue

Materials and Methodology

A. Preparation of Plant Materials.
Freshly harvested Synedrella nodiflora was used. Dead, damaged leaves
and adhering soil particles was removed by washing them off with water.
After it was cleaned, it was dried using cle an tissue papers. Plant organs
was separated (leaves, stems, roots), and was cut into 1 cm portions.
Each portions was weighed using triple beam balance then carefully
wrapped in three clean papers and labelled according to what is wrapped

within. All of these was put in the oven at 70dC for 72 hours. After 72
hours, it was cooled and weighed.
B. Combustion/ Dry Ashing
The plants cooled after being heated in an oven was placed separately in
a weighed evaporating dish and the other with porcelain crucible. The dish
was weighed using triple beam balance alone then the plant sample was
put and then weighed again. Using low flame of alcohol lamp initially, the
plant samples was combusted in a porcelain crucible elevated by a tripod
and then the flame was gradually increased to avoid splattering of the
material. Using a clean glass rod, the charred samples was carefully
stirred. After it was already combusted but there are still ash remains, it
was again cooled and weighed with crucible and dish. Then the ash weight
was determined by getting the difference between the weight of the
crucible plus ash and the tared weight of the crucible/dish. The organic
matter weight on the other hand was determined by getting the difference
between the dry weight and the ash weight.
C. Formulas

1. water =

2. dry matter=

Fresh weight ( FW )Dry weight ( DW )

x 100

x 100

3. ash=

Ash weight ( AW )
x 100

4. organic matter=

x 100


Figure 1. Formulas used in computing for the % water, dry matter, ash and organic matter of the

% water = ((FW - DW) / FW) * 100

% dry matter = (DW / FW) * 100
% ash weight = (AW - FW) * 100
% organic matter = ((DW - AW) / FW)
* 100

Table 1. The recorded and computed percentage of water, dry matter, ash, and organic matter of

Synedrella nodiflora

Fresh weight(g)
Dry weight(g)
Ash weight(g)
Organic matter(g)
%dry matter
%organic matter





Having a total of 62.3 g of the whole plant (17.3 g leaves, 32.5 g stems, 12.5 g roots) which is
considered the fresh weight. The fresh weight still contains all the components of a living plant.

Note that the greatest amount was from the stems because of the plant sample we used are
somewhat tall. After heating in an oven, the weight decreased. The weight that was lost is the
amount of water leaving the dry weight (22.5% or 3.9g leaves, 28.6% or 9.3g stems and 25.6%
or 3.2g roots). The dry weight composes of the organic and inorganic compounds. Because of the
heating, the water component of the plant evaporated removing all the water component of the
plant sample. It can be observed that when water was eliminated, there was a drastic change in
their weight. Water in plants like in humans composes 70% in its body. Stems gave the greatest
amount of dry weight. The stem, if broken down into their chemical component parts, are
roughly made up of organic compounds such as carbohydrates, lipids, nucleic acids, and
proteins. Stem has the highest organic matter compared to the leaves and roots (Feliciano,
Christian Andrew., Javate, Patrick Simon.

Whereas the ash matter of the plant is the inorganic compounds after the organic
matter have been removed from the dry weight through combustion. The most widely
used methods are based on the fact that minerals are not destroyed by heating, and that
they have a low volatility. So after combusting the dry matter, the weight decreased
because of the volatile components leaving the inorganic compound. It is important to
know the processes and be able to study the plant composition in order to know what
composes the plants in our surrounding.
Organic matter weight can be obtained by getting the difference of the dry weight
and the ash weight since the ash weight was the amount of inorganic compounds obtained
from the dry weight when the organic compounds was combusted.

Table 2. The recorded and computed percentage of the whole plant of Synedrella nodiflora.
% water of the whole plant
% dry matter of the whole plant
% organic matter of the whole plant
% ash of the whole plant
The percentage of water, dry matter, organic matter and ash of the whole plant was
obtained using the total weight of the fresh whole plant, dry matter, ash and organic
matter using the given formulas (see figure 1). The plant consist of 73.7% of water which
is normal. The dry matter is the most reliable for studies of the components of plants
because of the variability of the amount of water for different kinds of plants. The least
amount was the inorganic matter or the ash weight which are obtained from the organic
compounds from the environment that only undergone biochemical processes.

Sample calculations:

Summary and conclusion

The methods commonly used in determining the moisture, dry matter
and ash contents of plant tissue samples was determined and familiarized.
Using the plant Synedrella nodiflora freshly uprooted and cleaned. It is first
weighed to determine the fresh weight of each separated parts (leaves,
stems and roots). Each part was put in a clean paper and dried in an oven for
72 hours with 70 C temperature. It was then weighed to get the dry weight
and the amount of water gone. The third method was the combustion, where

the dry matters were separately put in gradually increasing flame until ash
was obtained. These ashes were weighed separately also. Then the datas
obtained were used in calculating the other needed informations to be
knowledgeable on what the plant sample contains.
The most reliable basis for study would be the dry weight. The plant
consist of the photosynthetic leaves which gives the plant its food. Also the
roots that absorbs water and nutrients from the soil. The organic compounds
are also from the soil, so the organic components of the plant will differ
according to the kind of its habitat. Stem has xylem and phloem that
transports those food and water to other parts of the plant like leaves.
Therefore, the methods used was a help to determine how plants
survive and the components of them. Results showed that the greatest
component of plants was water which composes 73.7% of the fresh weight of
plant. Then followed by the amount of organic matter (17.8%) and the least
was inorganic matter (8.5%) of the whole plant.

Organic And Inorganic Minerals

How-to Hydroponics
By Keith Roberto

Experiment 3: Percent Composition in Plants Anna Victorinoon 7

September 2013

Source: Boundless. The Chemical Composition of Plants. Boundless Biology. Boundless, 21

Jul. 2015. Retrieved 04 Aug. 2015 from