The pattern appears to use a graphic style based on the German Leiber pattern examined by Army researchers at the end of World War II, and based on the woodland colors of Northern Europe. It consists of 4 colors printed in an interlocking pattern.
It was initially produced in a lime dominant colorway, consisting of large organic shapes in mid green and brown, black ‘branches’, and light green ‘leaf highlights’. Shortly thereafter a brown dominant scheme (with the light green replaced by light tan) was manufactured. The two patterns are also known as ‘Lowland’ and ‘Highland’ ERDL respectively. The brown ‘Highland’ version was adopted as standard issue by the United States Marine Corps (USMC) from 1968, and later introduced on a wide scale in Southeast Asia by the U.S. Army. A third variation, known as 'Delta' from an alleged use in the Mekong Delta area of South Vietnam was issued in the early 1970s, so that by the end of the Vietnam War American troops wearing camouflage combat dress had become the norm. 'Delta' ERDL is the same as 'Highland' pattern, but the black 'branches' appear thicker and less detailed. The ERDL pattern combat uniform was identical in cut to the Olive Drab (OD) jungle fatigues it was issued alongside with.
Following the withdrawal of the U.S. Army from the Southeast Asian Theater in 1973, camouflage clothing was no longer routinely issued in that arm though the 1st Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment wore the ERDL leaf pattern as an experiment in the early 1970's in Baumholder, Germany. The USMC continued wearing the transitional ‘Delta’ ERDL pattern becoming general issue in the mid 1970s. It was to be used to equip the Rapid Deployment Force (RDF) whilst on tropical missions. It was not until 1981 that the U.S. Quartermaster Dept. approved another camouflaged uniform with the fielding, from September (not officially introduced until 01 October, however), of the battle dress uniform (BDU) in M81 Woodland pattern, an enlarged and slightly altered version of ERDL Leaf.