Natural Resources, School of


Date of this Version



Published in American Journal of Botany 96(10): 1861–1868. 2009. doi:10.3732/ajb.0800395 Copyright 2009 Botanical Society of America. Used by permission.


The anthocyanin and chlorophyll contents in leaves provide valuable information about the physiological status of plants. Thus, there is a need for accurate, efficient, and practical methodologies to estimate these biochemical parameters of vegetation. In this study, we tested the performance and accuracy of several nondestructive, reflectance-based techniques for estimating anthocyanin and chlorophyll contents in leaves of four unrelated species, European hazel ( Corylus avellana ), Siberian dogwood ( Cornus alba = Swida alba ), Norway maple ( Acer platanoides ), and Virginia creeper ( Parthenocissus quinquefolia ), with widely variable pigment content and composition. An anthocyanin reflectance index, which uses reflectances in the green and red edge spectral bands, and a modified anthocyanin reflectance index, employing, in addition, the near-infrared (NIR) band, were able to accurately estimate leaf anthocyanin for all species taken together with no reparameterization of algorithms. Total chlorophyll content was accurately estimated by a red edge chlorophyll index that uses spectral bands in the red edge and the NIR. These approaches can be used to estimate anthocyanin and chlorophyll nondestructively and allow the development of simple handheld field instrumentation.