To identify oak trees using leaves, examine the leaf branching on the corresponding tree, determine if the leaf is simple or compound, and look for lobes on the leaf's edge. Also, check to see whether the lobes are pointed or rounded, observe the sinus depth, and look for leaves that are shaped oddly.
Begin identifying oak trees by determining which tree a leaf has fallen from. Check if the leaves grow in an alternate or opposing pattern on the leaf stem. Oak trees have alternate leaf branching. In oak trees, the leaves are simple, with each leaf stem having a single, big leaf.
Normally, the edge of an oak leaf is lobed with big indentations that make the leaf look curvy. If the lobes feel pointed under the fingers, the leaf belongs to the red or black oak. The lobes of a red oak are wider than that of the black oak. Rounded lobes indicates that the leaf belongs to white oak.
Live, silverleaf, canyon live, laurel and shingle oaks have leaves without lobes. In the absence of lobes, the leaves of some oak trees have rounded, serrated or pointed teeth along the edge. In such cases, the leaf is from chestnut, swamp white, chinkapin or swamp chestnut oaks.
If the leaf without lobes is oblong, it is from a shingle oak. Willow oak has a narrow and long leaf, and the leaf of myrtle oak is oval. If the leaf is shaped like a rounded kite, it is from water oak. The leaf of a blackjack oak has a wide tip and narrow bottom.
If the sinus is deep in the leaf, it is from the southern red and nuttall oak. Some leaf sinuses in white oak are deep, while others are near the midrib region of the leaf.