Chlorophyl and seedlings with deeply pigmented burgundy new foliage

I have a seedling a few weeks of age now, with new leaves all showing a deeply pigmented purple/mahogany/plum type of color. It is a persistant color, and is not turning green, yet.

It seems to be a vigorous grower.

Sooooo…do these non-green leaves have chlorophyl even though they are not colored green???

Short answer, yes. If they grow, they must have chlorophyll. All plants, even “red” algae, have one sort or another of chlorophyll. The color his anthocyanins most probably, the stuff that remains in autumn when the chlorophyll is degraded, and makes autumn leaves red.

If you’ve seen copper beeches, or purple plum down there ( I assume but don’t know just what might be available and climate-adapted), then you’ve seen things with really deep purple/mahogany growing OK. But we do notice that typically when grafted, the stock will outgrow the scion in a head to head competition. That happens a lot with cheap flowering crabapple poorly grafted on common apple seedlings, or with purple plum. It’s a little hard to say for sure it is the color making the difference, might be inherent vigor differences.

Hi Larry,

thank you for your response. I wonder if there is generally less chlorophyll concentration in the leaves of these plum colored ones when they are compared to the green ones.

George a lot of roses have dark purply red new foliage which turns green when it matures, I would n’t worry about it too much.

In the page link is a rose I bred awhile ago, its new foliage is quite dark when new but turns to mid green on maturity.



Hi Warren,

that looks beautiful!

I don’t think that the actual chlorophyll levels have been measured, but they’re probably not not much lower. In part it could be that the accumulation of chlorophyll is slower, in foliage that shows dark when young and greens with age. In part, the anthocyanins may gradually get bleached away by sunlight.

Plants adjust their chlorophyll levels and kinds to maximize photosynthesis and minimize sun damage. When you put a houseplant outside, with its broad, thin, low wax, high in chlorophyll reaction center, leaves, it sunburns dreadfully. The same plant a month later has tougher leaves that can take much more sun. I think you can find something about shade leaves in a wiki.

The red pigments are sunscreen. In model plant systems like Wisconsin Fast Plants (which see by google) exposure to UV light makes them produce much more of the red pigment. That’s true of lots of species. The purple plum or copper beech is just a mutation that affects the control of anthocyanin production. My purple-leafed plum has fruit that is a very deep purple, even into the flesh.

My impression is that with roses, you’ll find the deep red leaves more commonly associated with deep red or strongly pink flowers (e.d. Knock Out or Home Run), not white (e.g. F.K. Druschki) or yellow (e.g. Sunny K.O.). So maybe I’m an idiot for thinking like this, but I’m too old to change now. If you can think of a good counter-example, I’d like to know. I’m data-driven.

And yes that plant of Warren’s is really good looking. I’d like to produce the same on this side.


I would grow that one just for the foliage! What does the bloom look like?

Thanks Larry and Joan;

Joan this rose comming out of the winter prune produces this foliage, when producing new foliage during the growing season, it is red without the purply tones. This colour is only shown in very early spring. Another trait with this rose is its ability to change foliage shape during the warmer months, leaves which are seen in the previous pagelink are more rounded compared to leaves in the page link below where they are longer and narrower.

Joan here is what the bloom looks like, perfume is similar to that of Briar Roses.



I love the burgundy new growth. I always consider that a positive trait in my seedlings.

If you can think of a good counter-example, I’d like to know. I’m data-driven<<<<<<<<<<

OK I will try and remember to post the pic of its flower here.

It could certainly turn out to be a deeply pigmented pink or red or some such. It has Blue For You plus some unknown hulthemia in its parentage.

It is Eyes For You X OP


“If you can think of a good counter-example, I’d like to know.”

All white or yellow Banksiae have very red young foliage.

Hi Warren,

Gorgeous foliage!

I have noticed this effect mainly with spring and fall temperatures. I wonder if it aids in light energy absorption during cooler, lower light conditions?

Jim Sproul

Hi Jim;

I was thinking of that too, as the light gets brighter here in the summer it is still red but not that purple red.I must keep an eye on it during the autumn. The Unnamed seedling of mine I pollinated with Euphrates, the hip is still developing, the other something chewed it off. I am hoping for one seed which will germinate for me. The Eyes for You seems that the pollen is ok, have a few hips forming on three different cultivars at the moment.