Different types of leaves

Photo: leafsnap

It’s a TreeHugger’s dream come true. Leafsnap is a new free app that identifies trees.

Go for a walk, take a shot of a leaf and this little wonder will identify its tree and give all kinds of information about it.

Photo: leafsnap

The app is a result of a collaboration between Columbia University, the University of Maryland and the Smithsonian Institution. The computer scientists made use of mathematical techniques developed for face recognition and they applied these to species identification. The botanists at the Smithsonian collected the initial data sets of leaf species and the photography. Every leaf photograph that is uploaded is matched against a leaf-image library so that the best matches are ranked and noted for verification.

It is complicated because “within a single species, leaves can have quite diverse shapes, while leaves from different species are sometimes quite similar, so one of the main technical challenges in using leaves to identify plant species has been to find effective representations of their shape, which capture their most important characteristics.”

Photo: leafsnap

It’s not perfect…yet. The leaf identification process needs work. You have to take a picture of the leaf against a white background, which is a bit awkward when you are marching around. It is only good for the USA, although the Canadian Hemlock is noted. That tree could come in handy right now for some Canadians. And for this TreeHugger, the snapshot part wouldn’t work at all.

However, there is a nice visual dictionary of leaf types which can be matched to names and descriptions if one has the patience to scroll through it. There are photos and information about the tree’s flowers, fruit, seeds and bark–giving the user a very full understanding of the species.

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my full disclosure policy for details.

Have you ever picked up a leaf and wondered what type of tree it fell from?

There are hundreds of types of leaves in the United States alone, and most people don’t know their scientific or even common names.

You can use this list of leaf types to facilitate an outdoor scavenger hunt, a classroom presentation, or for your own personal learning.

Book Recommendation: The Book of Leaves: A Leaf-by-Leaf Guide to Six Hundred of the World’s Great Trees

Page Contents


Leaf Identification Guide

We’ve put together a presentation of 76 real images of leaves with their common names, scientific names, plant families, venation systems, and common uses.

Here’s what you’ll learn for each leaf:

Common Leaf Names

According to Plant Management in Florida Waters (UF|IFAS), a leaf’s common name is the name that local people use to identify it. The common name of a leaf can change depending on your location.

Scientific Leaf Names

The UF|IFAS says the scientific name of a leaf is the same worldwide. It is a Latin derived word and it’s used to standardize a leaf for scientific research.

Plant Family

Each tree belongs to a plant family. The Science Education Resource Center of Carleton College says that plants in the same family “have similar flowers, reproductive structures, other characteristics, and are evolutionarily related.”

Leaf Venation

Leaf venation “is the pattern of veins in the blade of a leaf. The veins consist of vascular tissues which are important for the transport of food and water.”

Common Uses

As a bonus, we share some of the common uses of each tree, like decoration, fuel, furniture, etc.

Different Types of Leaves with Names, Pictures, and Information

Here are are the first 20 different types of leaves with their names, pictures, and information. Don’t forget to bookmark the entire slideshow of all 76 leaves (there are too many to fit into one post!).

And if you need a more comprehensive collection of leaf types, make sure to check out The Book of Leaves: A Leaf-by-Leaf Guide to Six Hundred of the World’s Great Trees.

Silver Maple

  • Common Name: Silver Maple
  • Scientific Name: Acer saccharinum
  • Plant Family: Maple
  • Venation: Palmate
  • Uses: Furniture, pulp wood, fuel

Box Elder

  • Common Name: Box Elder
  • Scientific Name: Acer negundo
  • Plant Family: Maple
  • Venation: Pinnate
  • Uses: Pule and woodenware

Japanese Maple

  • Common Name: Japanese Maple
  • Scientific Name: Acer palmatum
  • Plant Family: Maple
  • Venation: Palmate
  • Uses: Ornamental

Sugar Maple

  • Common Name: Sugar Maple
  • Scientific Name: Acer saccharum
  • Plant Family: Maple
  • Venation: Palmate
  • Uses: Furniture, maple sugar

Planetree Maple

  • Common Name: Planetree Maple
  • Scientific Name: Acer pseudoplatanus
  • Plant Family: Maple
  • Venation: Palmate
  • Uses: Ornamental

Striped Maple

  • Common Name: Striped Maple
  • Scientific Name: Acer pensylvanicum
  • Plant Family: Maple
  • Venation: Palmate
  • Uses: Ornamental and food for animals

Red Maple

  • Common Name: Red Maple
  • Scientific Name: Acer rubrum
  • Plant Family: Maple
  • Venation: Palmate
  • Uses: Furniture and boxes

Crimson King Maple

  • Common Name: Crimson King Maple (Norway)
  • Scientific Name: Acer platamoides
  • Plant Family: Maple
  • Venation: Palmate
  • Uses: Ornamental and shade

Norway Maple

  • Common Name: Norway Maple
  • Scientific Name: Acer platanoides
  • Plant Family: Maple
  • Venation: Palmate
  • Uses: Shade

White Oak

  • Common Name: White Oak
  • Scientific Name: Quercus alba
  • Plant Family: Beech
  • Venation: Pinnate
  • Uses: Furniture

Northern Red Oak

  • Common Name: Northern Red Oak
  • Scientific Name: Quercus rubra
  • Plant Family: Beech
  • Venation: Pinnate
  • Uses: Construction and interior work

Pin Oak

  • Common Name: Pin Oak
  • Scientific Name: Quercus nuttallii
  • Plant Family: Beech
  • Venation: Pinnate
  • Uses: Nuts for animals

Black Oak

  • Common Name: Pin Oak
  • Scientific Name: Quercus velutina
  • Plant Family: Beech
  • Venation: Pinnate
  • Uses: Construction, furniture

Swamp White Oak

  • Common Name: Swamp White Oak
  • Scientific Name: Quercus bicolor
  • Plant Family: Beech
  • Venation: Pinnate
  • Uses: Lumber

American Chestnut

  • Common Name: American Chestnut
  • Scientific Name: Castanea dentata
  • Plant Family: Beech
  • Venation: Pinnate
  • Uses: Rough exterior work

American Beech

  • Common Name: American Beech
  • Scientific Name: Fagus grandifolia
  • Plant Family: Beech
  • Venation: Pinnate
  • Uses: Flooring and woodenware

River Birch

  • Common Name: River Birch
  • Scientific Name: Betula nigra
  • Plant Family: Birch
  • Venation: Pinnate
  • Uses: Furniture and woodenware

Paper Birch

  • Common Name: Paper Birch
  • Scientific Name: Betula papyrifera
  • Plant Family: Birch
  • Venation: Pinnate
  • Uses: Plywood, fuel, toothpicks, etc.

Gray Birch

  • Common Name: Gray Birch
  • Scientific Name: Betula populifolia
  • Plant Family: Birch
  • Venation: Pinnate
  • Uses: Spools and firewood

Blueleaf Birch

  • Common Name: Blueleaf Birch
  • Scientific Name: Betula caerulea-granadis
  • Plant Family: Birch
  • Venation: Pinnate
  • Uses: Ornamental

Types of Leaves with Examples

Those first 20 types of leaves with examples were located in the Western New York area. Perhaps the trees in your area are different. If so, use this post as an example and encouragement to go out and teach kids about trees. And have fun doing it!

We look forward to sharing many more fun activities for kids that you can use to keep kids active and engaged in nature, science and hands-on fun.

Book Recommendation: The Book of Leaves: A Leaf-by-Leaf Guide to Six Hundred of the World’s Great Trees

25 Different Types of Tree Species with Their Names and Uses

Trees are the most essential living component in our nature. Trees help to maintain a balance in the ecosystem. They make the environment look lush and green while supplying sufficient coolness to the surroundings. Unfortunately, the rate at which they are being cut down is rather alarming and sad. However, some of the giant trees are difficult to forget or not notice. Take a look at some of the different types of trees in India.

Types of Trees in India with Pictures and Names:

Here are the top 25 types of trees list that you may have most definitely noticed.

1. Banyan Tree:

Banyan trees are mostly seen in different regions of the country and are the national tree of India that grows in a special type of soil. The oldest Banyan tree is present in Kolkata. This huge type of tree has extensive branches in order to provide support to it, having height more than 21 m. Leaves are of 10-20 cm long. Leaves are used as plates in India. Wood is used for making furniture, door, etc. Leaf, seeds and bark are useful for various diseases and disorders.

2. Neem Tree:

The most common and popular tree of probably every household is the neem tree that has bright leaves and goes up to the height of 100 feet. A straight and rough trunk is seen in neem trees. Each part of the Neem trees is essential for different purposes. They are used to treat chicken pox and used in various medicines. Wood is also used in south India for furniture making. Neem can be used as fertilisers for different plants.

3. Peepal Tree:

It is a fast-growing tree having heart-shaped leaves with a large crown. It sheds its leaves in the month of March and April. Peepal tree is used for various purposes, as ear drop, heals wounds, root bark cleans ulcers, prevent gum diseases, urinary troubles, the fruit is useful for asthma and many more. The leaves are also used as decorative items.

4. Aloe Vera Tree:

Aloe Vera plant usually grows to a height of about 12 to 16 inches. It has thick and fleshy leaves with sharp edges but does not have a stem. Long leaves are mainly in triangular fashion inside which contains the aloe vera gel. It grows in sandy soil in a sunny location though need to be watered on a regular basis. Aloe Vera is useful to hair to remove dandruff and the itchy effect. Though they are essential in cosmetic products, they are equally important to the food industry.

5. Tulsi Plant:

Tulsi plant is considered as a holy and religious plant in India. Height reaches about 75 cm to 90 cm. The leaves are round oval shaped which contain essential oils. It has high medicinal value. It provides relief in fever, cold and cough, effective against insomnia, indigestion, etc.

6. Amla Plant:

Amlaki’ is the household name very commonly used for amla. This type of tree is a medium deciduous plant of height about 8-18 meters. Spreading branches and crooked trunk are the prominent features of this plant. Feathery and linear-oblong shaped leaves mostly smell like lemon. In extreme heat, it wraps and splits. Amla is highly rich in Vitamin C, thus used in common cold. This improves the immunity of our body and is useful for healthy hair. Other than that, amla is used in shampoo and many food items like jellies, pickle, etc.

7. Eucalyptus:

The leaves of this evergreen kind of tree are of 6-12 inches long and 1-2 inches broad when they are adult. Height is nearly about 300 feet or more. Prominent bark appears as it ages. Fruit comes in a capsule. One of the main use of this kind of tree is plywood for the manufacture of the paper and its poles are also used for the construction of houses. It also lowers the sugar level in blood and purifies it. It acts as an antiseptic and also provides a remedy for asthma patients.

8. Mahagony:

Mahogany is used as astringent for wound obtained from the bark. This is used as a remedy in diseases like anemia, fever, dysentery, others. Furniture, boat, casket, musical instruments are generally made from the wood of mahogany. Indian mahogany trees are found mostly all over India. They have symmetrically round crown growing up to 30-40 feet height.

9. Indian Rosewood:

The rosewood is a kind of tree alternate rows up to an altitude of about 25 m and has a diameter of about 3 m. This rosewood is a deciduous tree which grows straight. Flowers are of white and pink colours. The fruit is brown coloured and is of very dry and hard. Crown part is oval in shape. This tree works as fuelwood. It is used in furniture making, plywood, musical instruments, etc. It is a remedy for acne treatment and helps to balance oily and dry skins. The rosewood oil stimulates the growth of a new cell.

10. Tulip Tree:

Indian Tulip is found in lower dry to wet forest. The height of Indian tulip tree is usually more than 40 feet. The flowers are cup shapes and the leaves are of heart shaped. This evergreen tree is very fast growing. Main branches of the tulip tree grow in straight along with thick bark. As the tree gets older it thins out, though it was bushy while it was young. Flowers, fruits and the young leaves are edible. Timber is used for making paper, paddles and also used to make gums and oils. Leaves are also used for swollen joints.

11. Sal Tree:

Sal trees is a rare tree variety that is mainly found in the eastern regions of India like Bengal, Assam and others. It is a sub deciduous tree up to 30 m height. This Sal tree has a tough texture and leathery leaves. They never go completely leafless. Medicines as of astringent are received from the resin and also given during diseases like dysentery and diarrhoea. Also, used as an ointment for skin disease and foot cream. Powered seeds are basically used for dental issues. Tribal peoples use leaves for making bowls, baskets, platters, etc. The Sal butter extracted from the seeds is edible.

12. Cork Tree:

In India, the cork tree grows mainly in Central India. This tall deciduous tree can grow near about 25 meters. The flowers are white tubular and consist of fragrance. The characteristic feature of this is that the flower grows at night and by itself shed it in the early morning. The corky bark and strong trunk are used mainly for its medicinal value. It’s a remedy for lung and cough diseases.

13. Turmeric Tree:

The other commonly used name, colloquially used, is Haldi. It is also called Indian saffron and is widely cultivated in India. The stem of the turmeric plant is very short which is of 60-90 cm. Flowers are of yellow white and pink. It is highly antiseptic, thus, it is used for internal injuries, wound, pimples, etc. It acts as a remedy for cold and cough and also given in jaundice.

14. Teak Tree:

The teak trees are very tall having a height near about 30 meters and are evergreen. The larger leaves are of same the size of tobacco trees. The flowers are of white to bluish coloured and the fruit is of papery and light brown in colour. They normally have uneven texture by growing straight and have slight lustre. Teak is widely used in making furniture, boats, doors and windows of a house. Its bark is considered very useful for a headache, stomach problem, fevers and digestion.

15. Black Willow Tree:

Black willow is one of the species of the willow tree. Another name used for black willow is ‘swamp willow’. The bitterly tasted roots previously used as an alternatively for quinine. Salicylic acid which is similar to the compound aspirin is present. They are used for the treatment of cold and cough, fever and headache.

16. The Maple Tree:

Maple is a common type of shrub. There are as many as 125 species of maple trees which are present in nature. The main types of maple trees are sugar maple, red maple, silver maple, Japanese maple, Norway maple and paperbark maple. The trees are deciduous trees which mean they lose their leaves in each fall but some are there that do not shed the leaves. Canadian flag depicts a maple leaf on it. It is used as an art of bonsai and is extensively used as an ornamental tree due to its different vibrant colours.

17. The Oak Tree:

Oaktree falls under the group of flowering plants. There are different types of oak trees present in nature. It has simply spirally arranged leaves. Some leaves have lobate margins and others have serrated leaves or have smooth margins. The bark of the white oak tree is usually dried and used for medical purposes. Manuscript inks were previously made from oak galls for many centuries. The bark of cork oak is used as a bottle stopper. The wood of this tree is used as valuable timber.

18. Cucumber Tree:

Cucumber is popularly used as a food item world widely and known by several names. It is a deciduous tree whose leaves are oblong in shape and are down side on the underside. The leaves have fine and smooth margins. It is under the magnolia group but unlike the magnolia, in cucumber tree flowers are not showy. This tree basically refers to unripe fruit. They provide perfect shade but not preferable to plant this street tree. Often grow in deep moist soil with slightly acidic in nature.

19. Black Walnut:

The black walnuts are mostly used commercially. This type of tree is also a species of a deciduous tree. Trees are often cultivated for walnuts and fruits. On the other hand, these trees do have high medical importance. Improved quality of wood and nuts are in high demand to various parts of the world. Black walnut is sometimes undesirable since it used to harm grasses and plants. Leaves have many leaflets with the largest leaflets in the center and that have pointed long tip and round base. The fruit has a semi-fleshy husk which falls in October and November months. The ripening fruits are seen during the autumn season.

20. Cedar:

The above tree image shows a white cedar tree which is an evergreen tree. The cedar tree is mainly known as Cedarwood all over. This tree has a conical shape with a branched trunk and has flat leaves. This tree acts as a medicine in case of cold, flu and fevers. Leaves of cedar tree are used to make tea which is high in Vitamin C.

21. Beech Tree:

This picture shows an older beech tree with beech nuts. The nuts and leaves of beech trees are edible. It can also be used for firewood and act as a very good source. This tree is very large in size as it grows but the wood of this tree is not so strong enough. As a result, large beeches are found to be falling apart. New beech leaves come out from the buds in spring which can be eaten and tastes differently. These can be eaten raw but the cooked item has greater nutritional value.

22. Apple Tree:

Apple is widely grown and cultivated all over the world as a fruit. These types of trees grow as a deciduous tree. They mainly grow from the seeds but can also be grown using grafting process by planting the small grafted portions. Apple is highly rich in vitamins and minerals. The bark of the root of this tree is used for fevers. Apples are baked which can be eaten for a sore throat. Regularly eating an apple controls the body metabolism and helps in restful sleep. Apple cider has medicinal properties and is commonly available in markets acts as an antibiotic.

23. Hazel:

Hazel tree provides edible nuts and hence it’s a common tree of waysides. It is a shrub type which generally has multiple stems. The leaves of hazel are elongated in shape which looks like racket shaped with a rough texture. Fruits of this tree can be identified easily. It normally grows in a straight and unobstructed way. It also consists of a nice structure as the leaves grow and take a proper structure. Some of its uses are in making of camp gadgets, strong straight poles and tent pegs.

24. Common Ash:

This is almost the tallest tree among all trees. The uses of this tree are well known from the ancient periods. It is used to make bows in bow-arrow, simply excellent for firewood and also used for many various tools and its handles. Ash tree has a relatively higher diameter as compared to the other trees. It has seeds which are flattened in its outlook and form dense clusters. Each sub-branches of the tree usually consist of numerous opposite pair of leaflets which is the key feature of this tree.

25. Hawthorn:

Hawthorn is a tree which widely used in rural areas to make the fences. From the name, it can be understood that it has thorny and prickly character. The tree has characteristic red bright berries during the latter half of the summer months. Deeply lobed leaves are the distinct feature of this tree. This tree has several uses like it is used for firewood; thorns are used for fish-hook and fences prevention to livestock and also the leaves, flowers and berries are edible used for survival.

Isn’t it fascinating how there are different types of trees and how each one contributes to our use? Well, they not only provide material substances for use, but they are also homes to many exotic and common birds. They add colour to your environment and completes your beautiful ecosystem. They are the means of sustenance for the many tiny birds and other organisms. The different types of trees with pictures and names are only a minuscule of the different types of trees that exist in our ecosystem.

Related Items


Leaf, in botany, any usually flattened green outgrowth from the stem of a vascular plant. As the primary sites of photosynthesis, leaves manufacture food for plants, which in turn ultimately nourish and sustain all land animals. Botanically, leaves are an integral part of the stem system, and they are initiated in the apical bud (growing tip of a stem) along with the tissues of the stem itself. Certain organs that are superficially very different from the usual green leaf are formed in the same manner and are actually modified leaves; among these are the sharp spines of cacti, the needles of pines and other conifers, and the scales of an asparagus stalk or a lily bulb.

leaves; beechSunshine on the leaves of a beech tree (Fagus).© ivan kmit/Fotolia Read More on This Topic angiosperm: Leaves The basic angiosperm leaf is composed of a leaf base, two stipules, a petiole, and a blade (lamina). The leaf base is the slightly expanded… plant colorationAn explanation of how structures inside the leaf contribute to plant coloration.Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.See all videos for this article

Typically, a leaf consists of a broad expanded blade (the lamina), attached to the plant stem by a stalklike petiole. Leaves are, however, quite diverse in size, shape, and various other characteristics, including the nature of the blade margin and the type of venation (arrangement of veins). Veins, which support the lamina and transport materials to and from the leaf tissues, radiate through the lamina from the petiole. The types of venation are characteristic of different kinds of plants: for example, dicotyledons have netlike venation and usually free vein endings; monocotyledons have parallel venation and rarely free vein endings. The leaf may be simple—with a single blade—or compound—with separate leaflets; it may also be reduced to a spine or scale.

pain bushPain bush, or African poison ivy (Smodingium argutum). The species is poisonous because of the sap it emits.JMK plant disease: infection from waterLearn how rainwater droplets, splashing from leaf to leaf, infect plants with disease.© Massachusetts Institute of Technology (A Britannica Publishing Partner)See all videos for this article

The main function of a leaf is to produce food for the plant by photosynthesis. Chlorophyll, the substance that gives plants their characteristic green colour, absorbs light energy. The internal structure of the leaf is protected by the leaf epidermis, which is continuous with the stem epidermis. The central leaf, or mesophyll, consists of soft-walled, unspecialized cells of the type known as parenchyma. As much as one-fifth of the mesophyll is composed of chlorophyll-containing chloroplasts, which absorb sunlight and, in conjunction with certain enzymes, use the radiant energy in decomposing water into its elements, hydrogen and oxygen. The oxygen liberated from green leaves replaces the oxygen removed from the atmosphere by plant and animal respiration and by combustion. The hydrogen obtained from water is combined with carbon dioxide in the enzymatic processes of photosynthesis to form the sugars that are the basis of both plant and animal life. Oxygen is passed into the atmosphere through stomata—pores in the leaf surface.

Common leaf morphologies.Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. autumn: leaves change colourLearn why leaves of deciduous trees change colour in autumn.Contunico © ZDF Enterprises GmbH, MainzSee all videos for this article

Chlorophylls, green pigments, are usually present in much greater quantities than others. In autumn chlorophyll production slows as the days get shorter and cooler. As the remaining chlorophyll breaks down and fades, the colours of other pigments are revealed. These include carotene (yellow), xanthophyll (pale yellow), anthocyanin (red if the sap is slightly acidic, bluish if it is slightly alkaline, with intermediate shades between), and betacyanin (red). Tannins give oak leaves their dull brown colour.

Pigments other than chlorophyll give this maple leaf its autumn colours. © Corbis Get exclusive access to content from our 1768 First Edition with your subscription. Subscribe today Leaf structure and functionsLearn how the structure of leaves affects their functions in this video.Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.See all videos for this article

Leaves are essentially short-lived structures. Even when they persist for two or three years, as in coniferous and broad-leaved evergreens, they make little contribution to the plant after the first year. The fall of leaves, whether in the first autumn in deciduous trees or after several years in evergreens, results from the formation of a weak zone, the abscission layer, at the base of the petiole. Abscission layers may form when leaves are seriously damaged by insects, disease, or drought. Their normal formation in autumn appears to be, in part at least, due to the shortening of the day. Perhaps the shorter days accentuate the senile changes normal in older leaves. As a result, a zone of cells across the petiole becomes softened until the leaf falls. A healing layer then forms on the stem and closes the wound, leaving the leaf scar, a prominent feature in many winter twigs and an aid in identification.

We all know what leaves are, don’t we? However, when we are a student of biology, our knowledge has to be different from what others know. Do you agree? So, for you, Leaves are not the green parts of the plants that have chlorophyll in them. You are too old for that! In this chapter of plant morphology, we will look into greater depths of Leaves. We will look at their characteristics and types. However, before we proceed, let us first know what a leaf is!

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What is a Leaf?

The leaf is a green, flat, thin, expanded lateral appendage of the stem. This part is borne at a node and bears a bud in its axil. It is exogenous in origin and develops from the leaf primordium of shoot apex. The green colour of the leaf is due to the presence of the photosynthetic pigment – chlorophyll. This pigment helps the various plants to synthesise their organic food.

You must have heard of the term foliage. Foliage refers to the green photosynthetic leaves of a plant. They are borne on the stem in acropetal succession. Now, we move on to the section where we look at the various characteristics of leaves.

Browse more Topics under Morphology Of Flowering Plants

  • Flower
  • Inflorescence
  • Root
  • Stem
  • The Fruit
  • The Seed
  • Classification of Flowering Plant

Characteristics of a Leaf

  • The leaf is a lateral dissimilar appendage of the stem.
  • A leaf is always borne at the node of the stem.
  • Generally, there is always an axillary bud in the axil of a leaf.
  • It is exogenous in origin and develops from the swollen leaf primordium of the growing apex.
  • The growth of leaf is limited.
  • The leaves do not possess any apical bud or a regular growing point.
  • A leaf has three main parts – Leaf base, petiole and leaf lamina. In addition, it may possess two lateral outgrowths of the leaf base, called stipules.
  • The leaf lamina is traversed by prominent vascular strands, called veins.


It is the arrangement of veins and also the various veinlets in the leaves. Different plants show different types of venation. Usually, there are two types of venation:

  • Reticulate venation: In a reticulate venation, the veinlets are arranged in a random fashion to form a complex network of veinlets. Ex: Dicotyledonous plants like a rose plant.
  • Parallel venation: In this fashion, the veinlets are arranged parallel to each other. Ex: In monocotyledons like paddy.

Types of Leaves

You have possibly come across various plants with different shapes and sizes of leaves. They are categorized as follows:

  • Acicular type: They are needle-shaped.
  • Linear Type: They are long and relatively broader as compared to other leaves.
  • Lanceolate Type: They are lance-shaped.
  • Oblong Type: They are rectangular in their shape and structure.
  • Reniform type: They refer to the leaves with the shape of kidneys.
  • Cordate type: They are heart-shaped and have a deep notch at the base.
  • Orbicular type: They are more or less circular in their shape.
  • Saggitate type: They are shaped like arrow-heads.
  • Elliptical Type: They have shapes of ellipses.
  • Hastate type: The shape of these leaves is like saggitate. The two basal lobes are directed outwards.
  • Ovate Type: They are oval or egg-shaped in their structure.
  • Lyrate Type: They are in the shape of a lyre.
  • Spatulate Type: They have shapes resembling spatulas or spoons.
  • Centric Type: They are cylindrical and hollow.
  • Oblique Type: The lamina of this leaf has unequal halves.
  • Cuneate Type: They are wedge-shaped.

This is all about the characteristics and types of leaves. We will look at a few solved examples for a better understanding.

Solved Examples for You

Question: Explain how various leaf modifications help plants.

Solution: Though the main function of leaves is to carry out photosynthesis, in a lot of plants, the modification of roots performs various functions. Therefore, they become an important part of the plants. They include

  • Tendrils: These help the plant in climbing.
  • Spines: These act as an organ of defence. The common example includes cactus.

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Learn the main characteristics of plant leaves

4.1 Primary schools

4.2 Secondary schools

4.3 Universities

6.1 Primary schools

6.2 Secondary schools

6.3 Universities

1. About Teacher’s handbook
2. Biodiversity and identification
3. About identification tools
4. Identification tools in education
5. Resources
6. Teachers’ feedback

Different leaves

You can find appropriate key in our database and you can read here how to customize it.


Activity suitable for biology or natural sciences lesson about plant leaves.

Aims and Objectives

  • Learn to look at leaves carefully and develop a stronger perception
  • Classify leaves
  • Learn how to identify plants by their leaves

School level

Primary school and 5-6th grade.

Identification key

Customized KeyToNature key or any other key which includes the set of plants that you intend to identify with your students.

Expected time

1 hour

Materials and Equipment

  • Sets of different types of leaves
  • Access to computers for the web-based identification key and quiz

Further resources

  • Exact-Dryades-Quiz “The main characters of plant leaves”, produced by the department of life sciences at the University of Trieste
  • How to identify Trees and Shrubs – explanation of some words you will have to know if you would like to identify a tree or a shrub
  • Learning unit on identification FIM / FAU (Ilias Learning Unit): What you should know to use the Key to trees and shrubs?
  • Quiz on identification of trees FIM / FAU (Ilias Test): Do you know everything to identify trees?

Background information

Leaves are highly heterogeneous. Once students examine the leaves of plants they are going to find this out. Differences can be due to age of a plant, damage, environmental and other factors. If students have to classify leaves by themselves, they develop a stronger perception; they learn to look carefully and to perceive the differences – they “open their eyes”.

Preparation (Teacher set up)

  • You need to collect different types of leaves. You will probably find enough sources in the school garden or in the surroundings of the school.
  • Check how much you know on the characters of plant leaves by doing the quiz “The main character of plant leaves”. In you find that you have some knowledge gaps you can complete the learning unit on identification.
  • If you don’t have access to the internet, you must upload the identification key on computers.


  1. Students examine different leaves of a species and try to identify common characteristics they find out. They classify leaves by themselves.
  2. Students sample the features of a certain population and for instances build up a model of the leaf they found and afterwards compare with the leaves in the book.
  3. After this students identify a set of plants on the base of characteristics of the leaves.
  4. Students explain what they found out and complete this with the technical terms.
  5. At the end students can do the quiz on “The main characters of plant leaves” provided by the KeyToNature project. You can ask students to perform it at home (as homework) and let them report on their experiences and scores in the next class.

Landscape Plants

Department of Horticulture

This site was developed with partial financial support from the:

Oregon Master Gardener Association

and the

J. Frank Schmidt Family Charitable Foundation

The site contains images and information on over 1,800 landscape plants, mostly woody. Individual plants can be accessed via ether the Latin Names (e.g., Acer) or a Common Names (e.g., Maple). Both lists are in alphabetical order; for the Latin Names, from Abelia to Ziziphus and the Common Names from Abelia to Zelkova.

Information on each plant species commonly includes a botanical description, general care, winter hardiness (presented as USDA Zones), native range, and an explanation of the Latin epithet. In addition, some plants selected from a species and available in nurseries (i.e., cultivars) are also briefly described (e.g., Acer rubrum Red Sunset®).

Plant Identification: A search system is available for help in identifying unknown plants. The system relies on a data base that is divided into two major parts, Broadleaf and Conifer plants. The user views a list of observable characteristics of plants and selects those that are represented in the unknown plant. Each selected characteristic filters the total plant list; that is removes plants that do not match the selected characteristic. When all the appropriate characteristics have been selected, a list of plants having these characteristics remains. Links to images and information of each of these remaining plants are then used to further aid in identifying the unknown plant. Experience suggests that the user should enter a few plant characteristics then look at the plants listed. If the list is too long so it is not practical to use in plant identification then enter additional characteristics of the unknown plant. Repeat the process.

Select Department of Horticulture for more information on horticultural programs at Oregon State University.

Want information about Oregon State University? Click on Oregon State University, or write Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331-4501, USA. Phone Number: 1-541-737-1000

For comments, suggestions, or corrections concerning this site please contact Patrick Breen, CPN (Certified Plant Nerd) Department of Horticulture, Oregon State University at [email protected]

Here are the Different Kinds of Leaves You May Not be Aware Of

Plants and trees can be identified by the different kinds of leaves and their pattern of arrangement on the stem.


A leaf can be defined as a plant-organ above the ground. A typical leaf is laminar and thin and the main function of the leaves is photosynthesis. A leaf cell contains chloroplast that is exposed to light to initiate the process of photosynthesis.

Other important functions include storage of food and water. However, in some plants the functions of the leaves are modified for certain other purposes. A few of the leaf types are vegetables included in the human diet. Below is a simple classification of leaves based upon their shapes.

Different Types of Leaves


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Leaves are the power-stations for any plant or tree. This is where all the food material is converted into energy for the plant. This is where photosynthesis occurs. In essence, the shape, size and various other physical attributes of a leaf depends upon the kind of environment and climate a plant or tree grows in. This is the reason why trees growing in arid regions often have tough, sharp or spiky leaves to prevent the loss of moisture from their surface.

All leaves can be broadly classified as either simple leaves or compound leaves.

Simple leaf

A simple leaf has only a single leaf blade on its stalk. The stalk of a simple leaf is attached to the plant body. There is a scar left on the plant body when a stalk is removed from it.

Compound leaf

A compound leaf is actually a leaf stalk that has more than one leaf blade on it. The multiple leaf blades are known as leaflets. The leaflets together make a single leaf that is attached to a single stalk. Like a simple leaf, the stalk of a compound leaf is also attached to the plant body and it leaves a scar mark on the plant body when it is removed from the stem.

Apart from these two broad classifications, leaves can be classified into various categories based upon various other attributes. However, the most popular attribute for classification is shape. The following list enumerates the different kinds of leaves classified according to their shapes.

Broad and Flat Leaves

A broad and flat leaf is usually a seasonal leaf. A broad leaf is green during spring. By the end of summer, the color of broad leaves changes and the plants and trees drop them. Leaves of lotus and water-lily plants are good examples of flat and broad leaves.

Ovate Leaf

An ovate leaf is oval in shape. The middle of the leaf is the broadest. An example of an ovate leaf is flowering dogwood.

Needle and Scale Leaves

This kind of leaves are mostly found in ‘evergreen’ trees. The ‘evergreen’ trees hold these leaves throughout winter. The lengths of this needle-like leaves vary in lengths. The needles grow either singly or in bundles. Most of the needles are narrow and pointed. Scale leaves are often short and flat, and lie close to the plant stem.

Lanceolate Leaf

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The length of a lanceolate leaf is greater than its width. A leaf of this kind has the shape of a lance – broad at the base and narrow towards the apex. An example of this leaf type is green ash.

Oblong Leaf

An oblong leaf has parallel sides. The leaf has a rectangular shape with rounded corners. An example of this kind of leaf is willow.

Linear Leaves

These leaves are usually broad and long. However, they are longer than their width and they usually don’t have any points or sharp angles to their contours. Banana leaf is an excellent example of a linear kind of leaf.

Cordate Leaves

These leaves have a very pronounced heart-shaped contour with their base extending sharply inwards to form a prominent notch from where the stem extends. Betel leaf is a good example of a cordate-shaped leaf.

As you can see, classification by shape is one of the best and simplest ways to categorize leaves. You can identify the category of a tree by checking out their leaf type. For instance, if the leaves grow on the opposite sides of a twig, there is a possibility of the tree being a dogwood or a maple tree. Also, leaves that are narrower and grow closer to the stem and each other are designed to hold in moisture and are, as such, indicative of evergreen trees as these types of leaves do not wilt or shed even during the fall and winter months.

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Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Imagine yourself on a private island.

The wind is blowing in your hair, the white sand is tickling your toes, and your day’s agenda consists only of naps on the hammock and sipping fruity cocktails with palm trees swinging gently in the backdrop.

Since we can’t always be transported to a tropical island, why not bring paradise to you? Tropical leaves are the perfect way to transform your home into an island oasis and there are plenty of ways to do it! Ferns, rubber fig trees and areca palms make the perfect houseplants. You can also feature their leaves as framed wall prints, trendy wallpaper, or as fabric prints like on throw pillows or curtains.

It’s hard to choose just one type of tropical leaf, that’s why we created a visual guide to help you determine your favorite types. Different types of leaves can be used for various types of tropical decor. Split leaf philodendrons, also known as Monstera leaves, have large fan like leaves with oval-shaped holes along central stem of the leaf and are perfect for displaying as a wall print. For your next outdoor party, use large banana leaves (a common backyard plant!) to line your tabletop to create an impressive tablescape. Fan palms, with their wide leaf size and fun geometric pattern, are perfect for hanging up on a wall to create an instant backdrop that will bring any party to life.

In this visual we’ve featured the most common types of tropical leaves to decorate your home with including:

  • Split Leaf Philodendron
  • Banana Leaf
  • Areca Palm
  • Fancy-leafed caladium
  • Bird of Paradise Leaf
  • Fan Palm
  • Royal Fern
  • Chinese Evergreens
  • Dwarf Schefflera
  • Plumeria Leaf
  • Rubber Fig Tree Leaf
  • Japanese Aralia

No matter how you choose to feature these stunning tropical leaves in your home, there’s no doubt that you’ll be able to transform your living room into a mini island resort. For more tropical home decor ideas, our tropical and exotic flower arrangements will be sure to get those creative juices flowing. The next time you relax on your couch, you’ll be able to transport yourself back to that swinging hammock on the beach with the breeze blowing in your hair.

To add even more of an island flair to your decor, we created the fun wall print for all the plant ladies out there. If you’re as crazy about plants as we are, you’ll love the message we’ve featured in our free printable below. Style this 8 ½ x 11 print in a frame and you’ll instantly have a touch of the tropics ready to hang on your wall.


Classification of a leaf

According to the petiole

Petiolated (Stalked)

Sessile. (Unstalked)

Petiolated leaves are those that have a petiole. This can be different in length from one plant to another.

Sessile leaves do not possess a petiole. The blade expands itself directly from the stem.

According to the blade

Simple leaf

Compound leaf

Simple leaves show an undivided blade or, in case it has divisions, they do not reach the midrib.

Compound leaves have a fragmented blade,with divisions reaching the midrib. Sometimes each one of these fragments is similar to a single leaf. They are called leaflets.

According to the edge






Entire leaves have a smooth margin.

Sinuate leaves have little curves with smooth edges like waves.

Dentate leaves have little teeth at the margin.

Serrate leaves have little bent teeth like those of a saw.

Lobed leaves have divisions that do not arrive the center of half blade.

According to the shape of the blade








Elliptic leaves: remembering to a ellipse. 2 or 3 times longer than wide

Lanceolate leaves: spear-shaped. Gradually extending at the base and lessening to the apex.

Acicular leaves: needle-shaped. Several times longer than wide; ending sharply at the apex.

Ovate leaves: egg-shaped. Wider at the base than the apex.

Cordate leaves: heart-shaped. More extended at the base than the ovate type and with a notch

Hastate leaves: halberd-shaped. Remembering to that old fashioned weapon which was a combination between a spear and a battle-ax. Wider at the base but with lobes ending sharply.

linear leaves: strip-shaped. Several times longer than wide. Not pointed at the apex like in the acicular type.

According to the veins




Parallel-veined leaves: the veins run at the same distance to each other, like in canes.

Pinnate leaves: There is a main nerve, called midrib, from which the other nerves derive, remembering a plume.

Palmate leaves: The nerves diverge from the main point such as the fingers do in the palm of the hand.

According to the arrangement along the stem





alternate: springing one per node at different levels of the stem.

opposite: two per node, facing opposite sides of the stem.

whorled: Several leaves disposed at the same level around the stem.

rosulate forming a rosette, like a ring around the stem.

Do the following activities before the test:
Activity 9 Activity 10 Activity 11

Now you can do the test:

Examination on leaves for primary school children.

Observe the following plants and choose the suitable answer in each case:

How would you define the leaves of the heather according to the blade?




How would you define the poppy leaves according to the margin?




How would you define the mint leaves according to the nerves?




How would you define the daffodil leaves according their arrangement along the stem?




Go back to main page “The leaves”

To know more about “The leaves”

More information about plants cultivation.

Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

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