How Do You Identify Leaves?

How Do You Identify Leaves?

Identify leaves, and the trees or bushes from which they belong, by using your observational skills. You need to look at the foliage, decide if the leaves are simple or compound, identify the leaf margin and determine the leaf arrangement.

  1. Look at the foliage

    Look at the foliage of the tree. There are three types of foliage: needles, scale-like leaves and leaves. Needle foliage denotes a conifer. Scale-like leaves belong to cedars and junipers. Leaves come from deciduous trees.

  2. Decide if the leaf is simple or compound

    If the foliage is a leaf, you need to decide if it's a simple or compound leaf. A simple leaf has a single, simple shape. A compound leaf has leaflets that join a central point or the stalk of the leaf.

  3. Identify the leaf margin

    Look at the leaf margin, which is either entire, toothed or lobed. An entire leaf margin has a smooth edge. Toothed margins are pointed. Lobed margins have curved and rounded edges.

  4. Determine the leaf arrangement

    Look at how the leaves are arranged on the shoots or twigs of the tree. Leaf arrangement is either alternate, opposite or whorled. Alternate leaf arrangements have a single leaf attached at a junction on the twig. Opposite leaf arrangements have two leaves attached at a junction. Whorled leaf arrangements have at least three leaves attached at a junction.