In order to identify a plant, you need to recognize
characteristics like size, form, leaf shape, flower color, or fragrance. Then,
you may link those characteristics to a name. Accurate identification means you
can figure out how the plant grows and the care it needs.
Since plants only carry flowers for part of the year, leaf
identification is often more useful. Read on for information on how to tell
plant leaves apart, including tips on identifying flowers by their leaves.
How to Identify Plant Leaves
There are some plants with such unique leaves that most
people can identify them. For example, the sugar
maple leaf (the central image on the Canadian flag) is quite well known.
Plant leaf identification is more difficult though when the foliage shape isn’t
as well known.
You may look at the plants growing in your garden and wonder how to tell plant leaves apart. It helps to know that a leaf has two parts, the leaf blade (the biggest part of the leaf) and the stalk (or petiole) that attaches the blade to the stem.
Each of these can help you figure out the plant.
How to Tell Plant Leaves Apart
The place to start for plant leaf identification is with the
shape of the leaf blade. Some are wide, (like oak
leaves) while others are narrow and resemble needles (like pine
needles) or scales (like cedars).
If your leaf is wide, look at other characteristics to start
identifying a plant by its leaves. Is there only one leaf attached to the stalk
or many? If there are many, are they palmate (with more than one leaf attached
at the end of a stalk like fingers on a palm) or pinnate (with leaves attached
along a single stalk).
Next, focus on leaf lobes. Leaves can be lobed or not lobed.
maple leaves have deeply cut lobes while round nasturtium
leaves do not have any lobes at all. Finally, look at the edges of the leaves.
Some leaf edges are smooth; these leaves are called “entire.” Other types of
leaves have notched or toothed edges.
Plant ID Tips
There are other plant ID tips that should be mentioned on
how to identify leaves. Take a look at the shape of the leaf when identifying
flowers by their leaves. The leaf shape can be round, oval or oblong, lance
shaped or elliptic.
The pattern of veins in the leaf can also help you figure
out the type of plant you are dealing with. Are the veins parallel? Do they
look more like a net? Are the veins prominent?
The thickness of a leaf is another way to help identify
plants. Is the leaf delicate or leathery? Another important clue might be the
leaf fragrance. When you crush or stroke the leaf, what does it smell like?
By taking the time to track down these characteristics of a
leaf, you will be well on your way to identifying the plant you are looking at.
The more information you have about a leaf, the higher the likelihood that you
will accurately identify it.
“Plant Leaf Identification: How To Tell Plant Leaves Apart” was first posted here