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(Activity 9) Gross Composition

Lizette B. Tapang
Department of Biology, College of Arts and Sciences, Central Luzon State University


Generally, plants are made out of water, natural (organic) and inorganic mixes. Water is the
essential segment of plants which is significant for development and advancement. It includes 70 to 90
percent of plant's absolute 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 build up every essential component must be accessible. These are the natural
intensifies that happen normally which when any of these was avoided or exhausted would cause passing
of life form: Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen and Nitrogen. Inorganic parts are those consumed by the plants
legitimately from the encompassing which is important to be expounded into natural mixes by the plant
before they can be acclimatized by the body. The changing of inorganic issue into natural issue happens
basically in the green leaves of the plant by methods for photosynthesis.

A plant's organization relies upon the sort of condition. When estimating genuine measure of
plant matter, the dry weight is considered rather than the new in light of the fact that it rejects water,
supplements and different intensifies the plant holds. Combusting through controlled temperature to
decrease the material to a grayish white sans carbon fiery debris. Amid ignition, soil OM experiences a
progression of physical and synthetic changes (Chandler and others 1983).

In the study of metabolic plant physiology, it is customary to use whole attached or detached plant organs.
Observations and analysis are made on the organs at various stages in their developmental history and
during natural or imposed alterations of external conditions, e.g. of light intensity or temperature.
Interpreted in the light of contemporary knowledge of chemistry on plant constituents, evidence of
increase in the amount of one substance while the amount of another substance is decreasing allowed
broad conclusions to be drawn about the powers of organ to carry out particular stages in the total
metabolism of the plant.


To quantitatively determine the gross chemical components which comprise the various tissues
of a living plant.


Obtain enough plant material (use species recommended by your instructor) and examine carefully for
any adhering dirt and other impurities. Remove these impurities by wiping or washing quickly with
distilled water then blotting thoroughly with tissue paper. Separate the leaves from the stem(s) and roots,
and proceed to determine separately the fresh weight. After weighing, wrap each organ with paper, then
label, and dry overnight in an oven maintained at 110°C. Reweigh each sample to obtain the dry weight.
Crush the dried material and place in a crucible or evaporating dish assuring that no stray bits of tissue
are blown or dropped. Then heat the samples over a Bunsen burner carefully at first to avoid spattering,
and then more strongly. After the samples are well charred, determine the weight. The % water, % total
solids, % ash and % organic matters are calculated for each tissue. Using similar plant materials as used
above, carefully express enough sap then determine the pH using the pH paper.


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

% dry matter = (DW / FW) * 100

% ash weight = (AW - FW) * 100

% organic matter = ((DW - AW) / FW) *


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

LEAVES stems roots total

Fresh weight(g) 17.3 32.5 12.5 62.3

Dry weight(g) 3.9 9.3 3.2 16.4

Ash weight(g) 1.7 2.5 1.1 5.3

Organic matter(g) 2.20 6.80 2.1 11.1

%water 77.5 71.4 74.4 ---

%dry matter 22.5 28.6 25.6 ---

%organic matter 12.7 20.92 16.8 ---

%ash 9.8 7.7 8.8 ---

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

% water of the whole plant 73.7

% dry matter of the whole plant 26.3

% organic matter of the whole plant 17.8

% ash of the whole plant 8.5

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.
1. Which organ of your specimen is the most hydrated? Which contains the least water? Why?
Water is absorbed by roots from the soil and transported as a liquid to the leaves via
xylem. So therefore, leaves is the most hydrated organ of the pant. Stem contains the least water
because it only conducts water and transfer it to the leaves. Stem contains most of the organic

2. Describe what happens during ashing process.

Dry Ashing is usually performed by placing the sample in an open inert vessel and
destroying the combustible (organic) portion of the sample by thermal decomposition using a
muffle furnace. Typical ashing temperatures are 450 to 550 °C. Magnesium nitrate is commonly
used as an ashing aid. Charring the sample prior to muffling is preferred. Charring is accomplished
using an open flame.

3. Write down the formula for % water, % total solids, % ash and % organic matter.

𝐅𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐡 𝐰𝐞𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭 (𝐅𝐖) − 𝑫𝒓𝒚 𝒘𝒆𝒊𝒈𝒉𝒕(𝑫𝑾)

𝟏. % 𝒘𝒂𝒕𝒆𝒓 = 𝒙 𝟏𝟎𝟎

𝟐. % 𝒅𝒓𝒚 𝒎𝒂𝒕𝒕𝒆𝒓 = 𝒙 𝟏𝟎𝟎

𝑨𝒔𝒉 𝒘𝒆𝒊𝒈𝒉𝒕 (𝑨𝑾)

𝟑. % 𝒂𝒔𝒉 = 𝒙 𝟏𝟎𝟎

𝟒. % 𝒐𝒓𝒈𝒂𝒏𝒊𝒄 𝒎𝒂𝒕𝒕𝒆𝒓 = 𝒙 𝟏𝟎𝟎