Basics of Tree ID

LEAF Shape

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The shape of the leaf is very important in helping identify a particular tree. We can describe the overall shape (outline) and the shape of the leaf tips and bases. You will see these common leaf shapes described in leaf keys.

Black willow has long and slender "lanceolate" leaves.

Water oak leaves are "spatulate", with slender bases and very broad tips.

Redbud leaves are heart-shaped or "cordate".

Silver maple (and most other maples) are round in outline or "orbicular".

Zelkova leaves are ovate (egg-shaped) and broadest near the base.

Spicebush leaves are elliptical. An ellipse is symmetrical.

The leaflets of buckeye leaves are obovate (egg-shaped and broadest near the tip).

Chinese chestnut leaves are oblong. They have an elongated oval shape.

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