About this tutorial
Hello! In today’s tutorial, we are going to take a look at a really easy way to help you identify trees by their leaves. You will soon be looking at the trees with a new found connection and confidence, knowing their names and faces. Are you ready? Just scroll down to browse, or click a link to get started.
Why to identify trees by their leaves
When you want to identify a tree, using its leaves is often the easiest and most obvious place to start. After all, a tree’s leaves are easy to find, easy to handle and right there in front of you! But, sometimes, looking trees up in a field guide can be overwhelming – with many identification guides requiring you to figure out a tree’s family to find it – or, making you flick through hundreds of pages of photographs to spot what you are looking for.
My simple guide to identifying trees leaves
Here at My Nature Nook, I believe that connecting to Nature should be easy. So, here is my really easy guide to identifying some of our most common trees by their leaves – in an at-a-glance, easy way.
Norway maple leaves are sharp at the tips compared to field maple and sycamore.
Field maple leaves are much rounder at the tips and smaller than Norway maple and sycamore.
Sycamore leaves are softer at the tips than sycamore, but sharper than field maple.
Horse chestnuts are the most common tree you are likely to find with characteristically hand-shaped leaves.
Holly trees have dark, shiny, very spiky leaves. Another spiky shrub (and a garden run away), is mahonia.
Lobed or wavy leaves
Oak trees have distinctively lobed leaves, often very gnarled, spreading branches – and a helpful clue – acorns!
Hawthorn trees are usually a dense tangle of lichen-covered, shrubs with thorny branches.
Multiple or feather-like leaves
Ash trees have thin leaflets, often more than 5 to a stem and clustered at the tips of the branches.
Elder leaves are rounder than ash and often darker and thicker. In addition, it is a more-shrub-like plant.
Rowan trees have skinny, leaflets with saw-like edges. They also often have white lichen spots on their bark.
Beech tree leaves are quintessentially ‘leaf’ shaped and leathery. They are often slightly wavy around the edges.
Hornbeam leaves might look like beech leaves, but they have deep valleys between their veins.
Wych elm leaves can be spotted by their asymmetrical leaf base and their pointy (sometimes 3 pointed) tip.
Aspen leaves are rounded (sometimes slightly pointed), very delicate-looking leaves with gently-waving edges.
Hazel leaves are larger than aspen with a marked tip. They are also narrow at the base, wider at the top.
Linden leaves look like upside down hearts, with a curved base, wide middle and widely pointed tip.
Well… there we go! A summary of how to identify some of our most common trees by their leaves. Hopefully, you should now be able to confidently look at a leaf and name its tree! (Just remember, there are many, many different trees – all with different leaves – and I have only covered a few of them here.)
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial? Let me know in the comments. Happy nature walking and see you soon!
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