Different Tree Leaf Shapes

Written by taylor divico
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Different Tree Leaf Shapes
Leaf shapes are determined by the form of the blade. (Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Learning the various shapes of leaves can make the difference between identifying trees within your natural environment and making aimless observations of trees. Simple leaves exhibit an undivided blade versus compound leaves that have divided blades. Leaf functions include photosynthesis, respiration and transpiration, with the shape of the leaf supporting such processes for the tree. If you find yourself wandering through a wooded area or botanical garden, impress others with your knowledge of leaf forms to differentiate the surrounding nature.

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Elliptical

Elliptical leaves, found on cherry trees, are shaped ovular like a football and are rounded at both the apex and base.

Lanceolate

Lanceolate are long and narrow linear leaves found on willow trees. Black willow tree leaves are pointed at the apex versus willow oak tree leaves that are rounded at the apex.

Cordate

Cordate leaves are shaped like a heart with an indented and round, symmetrical base and pointed apex. Eastern redbuds and royal paulownias and lindens grow cordate leaves.

Deltoid

Deltoid leaves are triangular in shape and found on aspens and cottonwoods. Deltoid leaves appear three-sides with a truncated base and abruptly pointed apex.

Hastate

Hastate tree leaves, as found on the American Sycamore and red maple trees, resemble a spear with a middle lobe that extends longer than the two connected side lobes. Sycamore leaves have a rounded apex, while maple leaves have an abruptly pointed apex.

Ovate

Ovate leaves are shaped like an egg, with a wide base that narrows toward the apex. Trees with ovate leaves include birches, beeches, elms, dogwoods, poplars and hollies.

Obovate

Obovate-shaped leaves look the opposite of ovate leaves, with a wider apex that tapers into a narrow base. Such leaves are found on Ohio buckeyes, arrowwoods and blackhaws.

Acircular

Acircular, or linear, leaves are needled-shaped and found on deciduous trees such as spruces, firs and pines.

Fan-shaped

Fan-shaped leaves are tapered at the base and flare outward at the apex, as in Ginko tree leaves.

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