Difference between Variegated Leaf and Etiolated Leaf

What Is a Variegated Leaf?

Appearance of zones of different colours in plant parts, such as leaves, stems and fruits, is referred to as variegation. Therefore, leaves with different colours, such as green, pink, purple and yellow, are referred to as variegated leaves. There are different causes of variegation.

  • Pathological: First being pathological reasons where the plant is infected with viruses. The leaf gets patterned as a result of infection. Sometimes, due to nutritional deficiency, the leaves become colourless and appear variegated.
  • Pigmentary: The green pigment, chlorophyll, is responsible for the green colour in leaves. Sometimes, the green pigment is masked by other colourful pigments causing zones of different colours in the leaves.
  • Propagation: Plant propagation is the method of crossing two different plant species vegetatively. This method preserves tissues from both plants and causes variegation.

What Is an Etiolated Leaf?

The process of growing flowering plants in the partial or complete absence of light is referred to as etiolation. Etiolation causes weak, long stems and leaves that are smaller with pale yellow colour. An etiolated leaf has weak cells, long foliage and internodes. Due to long internodes, there are very few leaves in a stem.

The absence of light makes the chlorophyll inactive, and hence pale yellowish colour appears on the leaves. Etiolated plants have a higher probability of reaching the light.

Variegated Leaf vs Etiolated Leaf

Variegated Leaf

Etiolated Leaf


Appearance of differently coloured zones on a leaf is referred to as a variegated leaf.

Appearance of pale yellowish colour on leaves is referred to as an etiolated leaf.

Colours Seen

Green and other different colours.

Plate yellowish to white colour.


Pigmentary, pathological and propagation reasons.

Absence of light.

Presence of Sunlight

Even the presence of sunlight doesn’t turn the colour of leaves to green.

When they are exposed to sunlight, the leaves rapidly turn green.


Pilea cadierei and Trifolium pratense

Hyacinthoides hispanica

Explore BYJU’S Biology to learn more.

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Frequently Asked Questions


What is the difference between a regular leaf and a variegated leaf?

A variegated leaf has both green and non-green parts, whereas a regular leaf has only green parts.


Why are variegated leaves at a disadvantage?

Variegated leaves have a very less green area compared to regular leaves. As a result, the variegated leaves have a limited ability to photosynthesise.


What is the advantage of variegated leaves?

A variegated leaf has the advantage of camouflage, mimicking the insects and defence from enemies.


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