Shrub leaf identification

Written by cecile leblanc
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  • Introduction

    Shrub leaf identification

    In order to correctly identify a shrub you have to carefully look at the leaves. Shrub leaves come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colours and arrangements.

    Shrub Leaves (shrub-euonymus image by Jeffrey Zalesny from

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    Leaf Shapes

    Leaves come in a wide variety of shapes. Some are long and narrow--linear leaflike a willow leaf. Others are shaped like an open hand--palmate shape--like Japanese maple leaves.

    Willow's linear leaves (green foliage image by Florin Capilnean from

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    Leaf Color and Texture

    Colour and texture can change between varieties and/or species. For example, holly plants are known for their glossy, smooth solid green leaves. Some holly plant varieties, however, have variegated leaves with white and green or yellow and green leaves.

    Variegated holly leaves (holly image by david Hughes from

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    Leaf Tops and Bases

    Sometimes the top (apex) or base of the leaf is very distinct. Look at the shape of the leaf at the top and how the leaf attaches to the stem at the base.

    Leaf with heart-shaped (cordate) base (leaf image by Lucian Muset from

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    Leaf Margins

    The edges of the leaf can be smooth or have rounded bumps, huge lobes or toothed edges. Currants have lobed leaves with toothed edges.

    Currant leaves with berries (red currand outdoor image by Yuri Davidov from

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    Leaf Arrangement

    Leaves can be directly opposite other leaves or alternate other leaves on stems or produce a whorl, or circle, of leaves around the stem. Stag's horn sumac has opposite leaves.

    Sumac leaves (Sumac image by Valeriy82 from

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