How to identify trees by their leaves

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how to identify trees by their leaves

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.

Star-shaped leaves

Norway maple

Norway maple

Norway maple leaves are sharp at the tips compared to field maple and sycamore.

field maple

Field maple

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.

Hand-like leaves

horse chestnut leaf

Horse chestnut

Horse chestnuts are the most common tree you are likely to find with characteristically hand-shaped leaves.

Spiky leaves



Holly trees have dark, shiny, very spiky leaves. Another spiky shrub (and a garden run away), is mahonia.

Lobed or wavy leaves

oak leaf


Oak trees have distinctively lobed leaves, often very gnarled, spreading branches – and a helpful clue – acorns!

hawthorn leaf


Hawthorn trees are usually a dense tangle of lichen-covered, shrubs with thorny branches.

Multiple or feather-like leaves

identifying ash leaves


Ash trees have thin leaflets, often more than 5 to a stem and clustered at the tips of the branches.

identifying elder


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.

Leaf-shaped leaves

beech leaves


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.

identifying wych elm

Wych elm

Wych elm leaves can be spotted by their asymmetrical leaf base and their pointy (sometimes 3 pointed) tip.

Round leaves

identifying aspen leaves


Aspen leaves are  rounded (sometimes slightly pointed), very  delicate-looking leaves with gently-waving edges.

hazel leaf


Hazel leaves are larger than aspen with a marked tip. They are also narrow at the base, wider at the top.

linden leaves


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!

P.S. Don’t forget to subscribe below x


My Nature Nook

My Nature Nook

Hello! Welcome to My Nature Nook. I am so happy to meet you. My name is Leila and I am a Nature Awareness Coach for busy girls seeking calm and connection through Nature.

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1 thought on “How to identify trees by their leaves”

  1. Pingback: How to preserve autumn leaves in four easy ways. – My Nature Nook

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My Nature Nook


I’m Leila. A Nature Awareness coach and mentor based between Ireland and Wales. I help busy girls nurture and nourish deep Nature Connections to re-charge their batteries and enhance their well-being by enjoying the beauty of Nature.

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