Quick ID: Tree Leaves

Looking for a tree? Most trees can be identified by their leaves. Look at the pictures below to find your leaf. Keep in mind, the pictures are not to scale; for instance, in the top row the picture of American Holly is the same size as the Flowering Dogwood, even though the dogwood leaf is usually larger than a holly leaf. Read the measurements under each picture to see the correct size of the leaf. Also look for other key ID facts, such as leaf shape, existence of teeth, petiole length, etc. Check the glossary links at the bottom of the page to find out meanings of key words.

To learn more about the tree the leaf belongs to, click the link under each picture.

American Elm

Ulmus americana

3 - 6 inches long, 1 - 3 inches wide

Double-toothed; thin; long point

Base not equal

Slippery Elm

Ulmus rubra No Link

4 - 7 inches long, 2 - 3 inches wide

Double-toothed; thick; long point

Rough surface; base not equal

Flowering Dogwood

Cornus florida

2 1/2 - 5 inches long, 1 1/2 - 2 1/2 inches wide

No teeth

American Holly

Ilex opaca

2 - 4 inches long, 3/4 - 1 1/2 inches wide

Prickly teeth, thick and leathery

American Beech

Fagus grandifolia

2 1/2 - 5 inches long, 1 - 3 inches wide

Teeth wide apart; sunken veins

Long point; very short petiole

American Hornbeam

Carpinus caroliniana

2 - 4 1/2 inches long, 1 - 2 1/2 inches wide

Double-toothed; long point

Arrowwood No Link

Viburnum dentatum

1 1/2 - 3 inches long

Round or heart-shaped; teeth

Paired

Blackhaw No Link

Viburnum prunifolium

1 1/2 - 3 inches long, 3/4 - 2 inches wide

Fine teeth; sunken veins

Paired

Royal Paulownia No Link

Paulownia tomentosa

6 - 16 inchs long, 4 - 8 inches wide

Broad leaf, pointy tip

Usually no lobes, sometimes with three teeth or three lobes

Long petiole (4 - 8 inches)

Eastern Redbud No Link

Cercis canadensis

2 1/2 - 4 1/2 inches long, 2 1/2 - 4 1/2 inches wide

Heart-shaped; short point

No teeth; long petiole

Yellow Poplar

Liriodendron tulipfera

3 - 6 inches long, 3 - 6 inches wide

Four pointy lobes, sometimes with two extra mini-lobes near base

Long petiole, no teeth

American Sycamore

Platanus occidentalis

4 - 8 inches long, 4 - 8 inches wide

Three to five pointy lobes, a few teeth

Red Maple

Acer rubrum

2 1/2 inches long, 2 1/2 inches wide

Three lobes, sometimes with two extra mini-lobes near base

Few wavy teeth, Long petiole (often red)

Silver Maple

Acer saccharinum

4 - 6 inches long, 4 - 6 inches wide

Five pointy lobes, middle lobe often branched

Double-toothed, long petiole

Black Willow

Salix nigra

3 - 5 inches long, 1/2 - 3/4 inches wide

Narrow, pointed, very fine teeth

Pointed tip of leaf often turns to one side

Willow Oak

Quercus phellos

2 - 4 1/2 inches long, 1/2 - 3/4 inch long

Narrow with tiny bristle tip, no teeth

Southern Red Oak

Quercus falcata

4 - 8 inches long, 2 - 6 inches wide

Long, skinny center lobe

1 - 3 shorter side lobes, often curved

Few teeth with bristles

 

Black Oak

Quercus velutina

4 - 9 inches long, 3 - 6 inches wide

7 - 9 lobes, long or short

Few teeth with bristles

Slightly thick; usually with brown hairs underneath

Pin Oak

Quercus palustris No Link

3 - 5 inches long, 2 - 4 inches wide

Five to seven lobes, few teeth with bristles

Deep sinuses, almost to mid-vein

White Oak

Quercus alba

4 - 9 inches long, 2 - 4 inches wide

Five to nine lobes (usually rounded)

 

Post Oak No Link

Quercus stellata

3 - 6 inches long, 2 - 4 inches wide

5 - 7 broad, rounded lobes

Usually 2 middle lobes largest

Slightly thick

Swamp White Oak No Link

Quercus bicolor

4 - 7 inches long, 2 - 4 1/2 inches wide

Broad at end of leaf, narrow at base

5 - 10 short lobes on each side

Wavy edges

Mockernut Hickory

Carya tomentosa

8 - 20 inches long, with 7 or 9 leaflets

Leaflets paired , except one at end; 2 - 8 inches long, pointed, with fine teeth, no stalks

Main stalk hairy

Pignut Hickory No Link

Carya glabra

6 - 10 inches long, with 5 leaflets

Leaflets 3 - 6 inches long, with fine teeth, no stalks

Larger leaflets at end of leaf

Main stalk has no hairs

White Ash No Link

Fraxinus americana

8 - 12 inches long with 7 leaflets (sometimes 5 or 9)

Leaflets paired, except one at end; 2 1/2 - 5 inches long, 1 1/4 - 2 1/2 inches wide; pointy with very fine teeth

Black Locust

Robinia pseudoacacia No Link

6 - 12 inches long with 7 -19 leaflets

Leaflets paired, except one on end; 1 - 1 3/4 inche long, 1/2 - 3/4 inch wide

Leaflets have tiny bristle tip, no teeth

Note: If you believe a leaf on this page has been inaccurately identified, please e-mail the web curator: Mark.Moran@fcps.edu

Leaf Terms:

Bristle - Hair-like spine at the tip of a point on some leaves.

Double-toothed - When a leaf with teeth on its edges has more smaller teeth on the sides of the larger teeth.

Leaflet - Smaller, "mini-leaf." Some leaves are made up of several leaflets. Together, the leaflets and the stem make up an entire leaf.

Lobe - A rounded or pointed section of a leaf. Many leaves have lobes. Sometimes the look like fingers on a hand. You can often tell what kind of tree it is by counting the lobes on a leaf and looking at their shape.

Midvein - The center vein on a leaf. It can be used as a reference point to help ID tree species.

Paired - Whe leaves or leaflets are in pairs on opposite sides of a stem.

Petiole - The stem of a leaf.

Sinus - The space between lobes on a leaf.

Teeth - On a leaf, teeth are the bumps or points along the leaf's edge.

For additional terms try the glossary link on the bottom of the page.

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