|I've seen different drawings of human cells. They
use different colors to show the different parts
of the cell. My question is, what is the actual
color of the inside of a cell?|
|Question Date: 2014-09-16|
As you’ve probably guessed, the colors in a
drawing of a cell are just to tell different parts
of the cell apart. In general, human cells are
transparent, which means light passes right
through them. Some exceptions are red blood cells
which are red because of iron content and
pigmented cells like in a freckle. A big part of
science is seeing things that you can’t see
normally with your eyes. The most well-known way
to do this is using a microscope which makes
really tiny things look huge. To see cells, a
common technique is to use a dye that will stain
certain parts of a cell so that you can see them.
But in reality, most cells don’t have any real
Another part to this question is what color is to
begin with. Humans perceive color when certain
types of light hit an object and are reflected
into their eyes. A rainbow for instance shows all
of the different colors we can see. However, for
some animals with good night vision such as owls,
their idea of color is different. Their eyes can
process light that our eyes aren’t adjusted for.
So in a sense, no object really has a color.
Humans perceive an object to be a certain color
which is a property of the human as well as the
It varies from cell to cell. For plants, we see
that they are green. Really, the cells themselves
are clear but the chlorophyll inside the
chloroplast is green, so we really just see the
color of the chloroplast. Similarly for blood, a
red blood cell is clear, but has red hemoglobin
inside it that makes certain parts look red. We
only see at high levels so it looks red to us.
Most cells are like this.
Most cells are basically clear. Cells with
pigments (like those in your skin and hair) have
color due to the pigments (melanin in this case,
which is brown). Chloroplasts in plant cells are
green (they are the reason why plants are green).
Cells are typically colorless and basically
transparent, although certain types of cells that
contain pigments would exhibit the colors of their
pigments. For instance, many plant cells from
leaves have the pigment chlorophyll, which looks
green. Many flowers, on the other hand, have a
variety of pigments which are generally called
carotenoids and can range in color from yellow to
orange to red. Another example is human hair,
which has varying amounts of a pigment called
melanin and results in a variety of colors from
light yellow to very dark brown.
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