A article says this "Some ornamental plants have leaves that aren't green. Rather, they have purple, red, yellow or variegated leaves. Ever wonder how these plants photosynthesize, since they don't have a green color? "There is no secret here," said Sven Svenson, research horticulturist with Oregon State University. Plant leaves have three primary classes of pigments: chlorophyll, carotinoids and anthocyanins, explained Svenson. Chlorophyll absorbs the red and blue light from the sunlight that contacts the leaf. Carotinoids absorb the blue-green and blue light from the sunlight that contacts the leaf. A third class of pigments found in leaves is the anthocyanins. Purple leaves usually have high anthocyanin concentrations relative to chlorophyll. "If you look at the leaves of a "purple" plant that is growing in the shade, you will see the leaves look muddy-purple or even green," said Svenson. "So, plants with leaf color other than green perform photosynthesis just like green-leafed plants (if they did not, they would not live). The chlorophyll needed for photosynthesis is masked among the colorful pigmentation."