Herb leaf identification

Written by gabrielle morgan
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Herb leaf identification
Proper herb leaf identification is essential for safety and correct herb use. (John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

The best method of herb identification is examining the leaves. Identifying herbs by their leaves is beneficial for choosing wild herbs, as well as those in the home garden, or those for purchase in a grocery store.

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Most herbs have a unique scent and leaf shape, making it easy to identify them. For herbs that have similar leaves, rub a leaf between the thumb and forefinger to identify the herb by smell. Tasting the herb is another method of identification.


Tasting herbs in the wild may be dangerous, particularly in the case of misidentification. Never eat a wild plant unless you can positively identify it as an herb. Additionally, wild herbs, especially those near roads and trails, may contain chemicals used to control their growth.


Purchase a book on herb identification or growing herbs, or a fresh produce guide to familiarise yourself with different herb varieties. Growing herbs at home is another way to become familiar with the different qualities of herbs. Local university extensions and garden nurseries are also available for plant identification.

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