Types of Pigment in Plants with examples: Complete Details

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Welcome, dear aspirants! As you venture on your journey to conquer competitive exams such as SSC, UPSC, Railway, and all other state PSCs, we bring you a comprehensive guide on a fascinating topic – Types of Pigment in Plants.

This topic, a crucial part of General Science, is not just about memorizing facts. It’s about understanding the vibrant world of plants and how they use pigments to survive and thrive. Imagine a world without the green of leaves or the myriad colours of flowers. Dull, isn’t it? Now, that’s the power of pigments!

This post uncovers the different types of pigments found in plants, complete with examples to make your learning journey easier and more enjoyable. Remember, every detail counts when it comes to competitive exams. So, don’t just skim through. Dive deep, explore, and let the colours of knowledge brighten your path to success. To answer all the questions asked in exams about pigments, read the full article. Let’s get started!

What are Pigments?

Pigments are like nature’s tiny colour chemists, giving the world around us its vibrant hues. They’re found in everything from the dazzling colours of flowers and feathers to the paints we use to create masterpieces.

Here’s the science behind the magic:

  • Light Selectivity: Pigments have a special power – they absorb specific wavelengths of light and reflect others. The reflected light is what we perceive as colour.
  • Insoluble Stars: Unlike dyes, which dissolve completely, pigments are like tiny, insoluble colour particles suspended in a liquid.

Pigments play a vital role in various fields:

  • Art Supplies: Paints, inks, and coloured pencils use pigments to create the colours we love.
  • Cosmetics: Pigments add pops of colour to make-up, allowing us to express ourselves.
  • Nature’s Palette: The vibrant colours of plants and animals often come from pigments!

The next time you admire a beautiful painting, remember the tiny pigments behind the magic!

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What makes pigments so special

Colourful Creations

  • Pigments come in a vast array of colours, from bright primary colours like red, yellow, and blue to more complex shades like magenta, sienna, and viridian.

Light Interaction

  • They work their magic by selectively absorbing specific wavelengths of light while reflecting others. This interaction with light is what gives them their specific colour. For example, a red pigment absorbs primarily green and blue light, reflecting the red wavelengths and making it appear red to our eyes.

Diverse Applications

  • Pigments are everywhere! They add colour to our paints, giving life to art and decorative projects. They colour our clothes, making our fashion choices brighter. They even enhance our appearance in cosmetics, providing vibrant eyeshadows and blush.

Natural and Synthetic

  • Some pigments are found naturally, like the colourful carotenes in carrots or the chlorophyll that makes leaves green. Others are synthesized in labs, offering unique shades and properties not found in nature.

Types of Pigment

Pigments are the essential ingredients that bring colour to our world. They are tiny insoluble particles that selectively absorb and reflect light, creating the hues we see in paints, dyes, inks, cosmetics, and even in the vibrant colours of nature. There are many different types of pigments, each with its unique properties and applications.

Here’s a breakdown of the main types of pigments:

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Inorganic Pigments

  • Inorganic pigments, often referred to as synthetic pigments, are created from coal tars and various petrochemical sources.
  • Occasionally, they can also be produced through a simpler chemical process known as oxidation.
  • Pigments are chemicals that can display colourful hues by interacting with visible light wavelengths.
  • These substances are present in plants, flowers, algae, certain photosynthetic bacteria, and even the skin of animals.
  • These pigments not only contribute to vibrant colours but also can absorb specific wavelengths of light.

Common examples include

  • Titanium dioxide (white)
  • Iron oxide (yellow, red, black)
  • Chromium oxide green
  • Cadmium pigments (yellow, orange, red)
  • Ultramarine blue

Organic Pigments

  • Made from carbon-based compounds, these pigments offer a wider range of vibrant colours and are often lighter and more transparent than inorganic pigments.
  • However, they are more prone to fading or discolouration when exposed to light.

Common examples include

  • Phthalocyanine blue and green
  • Quinacridone pigments (magenta, violet)
  • Azo pigments (yellow, orange, red)
  • Hanza yellow

Special Effect Pigments

  • These pigments create unique visual effects beyond just colour, such as metallic sheen, pearlescence, or iridescence.
  • They are often used in decorative applications and special coatings.

Common examples include

  • Mica pigments
  • Metal flake pigments
  • Interference pigments

Biological Pigments

  • Found in nature, these pigments are responsible for the colours of plants, animals, and microorganisms.
  • They play essential roles in photosynthesis, cell signalling, and other biological processes.

Common examples include

  • Chlorophyll (green)
  • Carotenoids (yellow, orange, red)
  • Anthocyanins (red, blue, purple)
  • Melanin (brown, black)
  • The choice of pigment depends on a variety of factors, such as the desired colour, application, lightfastness, cost, and safety. With so many types of pigments available, the possibilities for creating colourful and vibrant effects are endless!
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Types of Pigment in Plants

Plants use a variety of pigments to produce their vibrant colours. These pigments not only contribute to their beauty but also play important roles in their survival and reproduction.

Here are some of the most common types of pigments found in plants:


  • Chlorophyll stands out as a key pigment present in the plant cells of all green plants.
  • It’s responsible for the vibrant green colour seen in leaves and the soft parts of stems.
  • The role of chlorophyll is crucial, particularly in the biological process of photosynthesis.
  • There are various types of chlorophyll pigments, categorized based on their structure, functions, and other characteristics. These types include:
  1. Chlorophyll a: Found in algae, cyanobacteria, and all higher plants.
  2. Chlorophyll b: Present exclusively in green algae and higher plants.
  3. Chlorophyll c: Identified in certain photosynthetic Chromista and some marine algae.
  4. Chlorophyll d: Exclusive to red algae.
  5. Chlorophyll e: Found solely in algae.
  • Chlorophyll a and b are recognized as the primary photosynthetic pigments. They play a central role in harnessing sunlight for plant energy.


  • These pigments contribute to the vibrant yellow, orange, and red hues seen in numerous fruits and vegetables.
  • Beyond adding colour, they serve as crucial antioxidants, safeguarding plants from potential harm caused by sunlight and free radicals.
  • Carotenoids, specifically, are the pigments responsible for orange, red, and yellow shades.
  • These compounds don’t dissolve in water and are linked to the membranes of cell bodies.
  • Acting as antioxidants, they play a role in enhancing human eyesight.
Types of Pigment in Plants
Types of Pigment in Plants (Photo: Byjus.com)


  • Anthocyanins are a specific kind of flavonoid pigments that naturally exist in all parts of higher plants.
  • These pigments play a vital role in giving colour to the stems, leaves, roots, fruits, and flowers.
  • Depending on the pH level, these pigments can exhibit various hues such as red, blue, purple, and other dark shades.


  • Betalains are a group of red and yellow pigments derived from tyrosine. They are commonly found in plants belonging to the Caryophyllales order. Interestingly, betalains replace anthocyanin pigments in these plants.
  • These pigments are predominantly found in flower petals, but they also add colour to fruits, leaves, stems, and roots in plants that contain them.
  • Examples of betalain-containing plants include beets. Additionally, betalains are not limited to plants and can also be found in certain types of fungi.


  • Flavonoids are a group of yellow pigments commonly present in lemons, grapefruit, oranges, and certain red and yellow flowers.
  • These pigments are mostly found in the plastids and cytoplasm of plant cells. Flavonoids possess antioxidant properties, playing a role in reducing cholesterol levels.

Some other uses of flavonoids include

  • Extracting and employing them as natural dyes.
  • Using specific pigments like lycopene and astaxanthin as dietary supplements in various food products.


In addition to these common pigments, there are many other less common pigments found in plants. These pigments contribute to the wide variety of colours that we see in the plant world.

The specific pigments that a plant produces are determined by its genetics and environmental factors. For example, some plants produce more anthocyanins in response to sunlight, while others produce more carotenoids in response to stress.

The study of plant pigments is a fascinating field of science. It can help us understand how plants function, interact with their environment, and produce the delicious fruits and vegetables that we enjoy.

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As a professional blogger and passionate educator, I am driven by a deep-seated desire to share knowledge and empower others. With years of experience in the field, I am committed to providing valuable insights and guidance to aspiring learners. My passion lies in helping individuals discover their potential and achieve their goals. I am also a firm believer in the power of motivation and strive to inspire others to pursue their dreams with unwavering determination.

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