The Beauty of Tree Leaves

As a nature lover, you may find it challenging to identify different tree species. While dichotomous keys and field guides can be overwhelming, tree identification apps are not always as accurate as they claim to be. But fear not, we’re here to simplify the process for you!

Introducing our gallery of tree leaf photos, designed to be user-friendly and intuitive. No more dense language or confusing criteria. Whether you want to browse or follow a method, we’ve got you covered.

How to Use This Gallery: How We’ve Grouped the Tree Leaf Photos

If you prefer to browse the photos and find the leaf that matches yours, go ahead. But if you want a more systematic approach, take a moment to understand how we’ve organized the gallery.

We’ve made it easy for beginners by grouping the photos based on different leaf characteristics. From needle-like and scale-like leaves to triangular-shaped ones, we’ve categorized them all. We even have groups for leaves with serrated edges and exceptionally large leaves.

Simply glance at the leaf you want to identify, find the category that describes it best, and explore the gallery. Click on the photo to visit a dedicated page for that species. It’s that simple!

Further reading:  Thus Spoke The Plant: Exploring the Language of Nature

One Quick Caveat: You Must Know Where the Leaf “Starts”

Before you dive into the gallery, there’s one thing you should know about compound leaves. The “leaves” you see are actually “leaflets” that make up the proper leaf. This distinction is crucial for accurate identification. To determine where the leaf begins, follow these steps:

  1. Examine the leaf you’re unsure about.
  2. Trace it back to the base.
  3. Look for a bud near the base.
  4. If you find a bud, congratulations! You’ve found the leaf.
  5. If not, continue until you locate the bud. The bud marks the beginning of the leaf.

For conifers, this method doesn’t apply, but they’re easy to recognize, as you’ll see in category #1.

Tree Leaf Photos: Common Eastern U.S. Trees

Now, let’s explore our gallery! Don’t worry too much about choosing the perfect category. We’ve made the groupings inclusive and picked photos that resemble the shape you’re focusing on.

In our gallery, you’ll find eight categories, each featuring different leaf characteristics:

#1 Scaly or Needle-Like Leaves

Scaly or Needle-Like Leaves

#2 Compound Leaves

Compound Leaves

#3 No Teeth, Spines, or Lobes

No Teeth, Spines, or Lobes

#4 Toothed or Spikey Margin

Toothed or Spikey Margin

#5 Lobed Leaves

Lobed Leaves

#6 Triangular or Heart-Shaped Leaves

Triangular or Heart-Shaped Leaves

#7 Different Leaf Shapes on the Same Tree

Different Leaf Shapes on the Same Tree

#8 Exceptionally Large Leaves

Exceptionally Large Leaves

#9 Oddly Shaped Leaves

Oddly Shaped Leaves

Remember, while leaves alone may not provide a positive species identification, they can give you a good idea of the tree type. So go ahead, start exploring, and enjoy the wonders of nature!


To continue your nature-loving journey, visit the Ames Farm Center.