Garden Tree Leaf Identification

Identifying leaves of garden trees is not only an interesting hobby, but can help with landscape design ideas. Leaves provide excellent clues to the identity of a garden tree. Each leaf is has distinct qualities among species. Identifying leaves is easy with the right knowledge and resources.

Leaf Identification

Select a leaf and note the stem. Identify the node, the point where one or more leaves connect to the stem. Stem between the nodes is called the internode. The main portion of the leaf is called the blade, while the supporting stock is called the petiole.

Leaf Categories

Two types of leaves exist: simple and compound. Simple leaves have a single blade attached to the stem. Compound leaves have three or four leaflets (secondary leaves) joined at the stem.

Leaf Arrangement

Leaves may be paired on the same node, one on each side of the twig, or whorled, more than one leaf on the same node. With alternate arranged leaves, one leaf is attached to an individual node. Leaves spiral around the twig.

Pinpoint Leaf Details

Look for finely detailed clues within the leaf structure. Differences in the size and shape of a leaf can offer clues to leaf type.


Because leaf identification has many factors, a leaf identification book focusing on garden trees is a must-have for identifying garden plants. Resources on the Internet are also available to help with identification. Several site offer interactive identification based on simple questions and observations.

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About the Author

RS Wagner began writing professionally in 1997 as a frequent contributor to the "Sun Herald's" column, "What's Cookin'." She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in graphic design from William Carey University.