Leaf Identification Chart [Infographic]
Use this helpful, printable infographic to learn how to identify leaves - and avoid poisonous plants!
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Do you enjoy watching the changing colors of the leaves when autumn arrives? Or taking nature walks in the spring and summer? Now you’ll know exactly what types of plants you’re looking at with our handy Leaf Identification Chart!
Whether you are planning a camping trip, going on a hike, or simply enjoying the great outdoors from the comfort of your own backyard, this guide will help you identify the plants you are likely to come across. If you've never been able to tell your oaks from your maples, then our guide for identifying leaves is exactly what you need!
Plus, scroll down to learn how to avoid poisonous plants, and what to do if you come across them.
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Leaf Indentification Chart
Click below to download our free printable Leaf Identification Chart! Not sure how to print your PDF? We've included a few quick instructions.
- Click the green button below that says "Download and Print This Chart".
- Find and open the PDF.
Pro tip: You may see the download appear at the bottom of your browser window, and you can open it from there. Or check wherever your downloads are set to save to (the Downloads folder is often a default location).
- Click the "Print File" button, choose the printer, choose how many copies you want, make any additional adjustments needed for personal preference, and click the "Print" button.
Leaf Identification 101
Why is leaf identification important?
Leaf identification allows us to study the plants that inhabit our local environments and identify the uses and values of these plants. Because leaves are an easily observable part of the plant (similar to plants that flower or bear fruit), they give us quick access to a plant's health, climate, and other qualities.
People enjoy leaf identification for a number of reasons, such as its usefulness in foraging and gardening, and it can be used as a tool for educators teaching about conservation and environmentalism. Learning about leaves is also helpful for hikers and those who enjoy the outdoors as a way to avoid poisonous plants.
Not sure what trees and plants thrive in your climate? Find out your hardiness zone with our handy article! What are Hardiness Zones?
How to Identify Leaves
There are several things to consider when trying to identify leaves. We've broken it down into a few simple steps to make leaf indentification easier.
- Examine the shape of the leaf. Is it single (one leaf) or compound (made up of many smaller leaves)? Is it lobed (with peaks and valleys, like the shape of a hand) or unlobed? Are the edges smooth or toothed?
- Investigate the texture of the leaf. Is it broad and flat? Thin and scaly? These factors will help you identify what type of leaf you are looking at.
- Study the arrangements of the leaves on its stem. According to Bonnie L. Grant from Gardening Know How, "Some leaves grow opposite, some alternate, some in rosette forms and others in whorls...The arrangement gives part of the clue as to the species."
- Identify other important factors. You can also identify leaves by color and venation (the veins of the leaf). Some leaves, such as those with needle-like leaves such as conifers, have very distinct appearances.
Want to do your part to help the environment? Learn the ins and outs of how to compost at home with this article! How to Compost at Home
How to Identify Poisonous Plants
You can protect yourself against poisonous plants by being aware of what they look like. (Good thing you have this helpful leaf identification chart to guide you!)
Most people who come into contact with poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac will develop an itchy red rash that can last for several weeks. Avoid direct contact with the leaves, stem, roots, or berries of these plants (even if a plant is dead).
If your shoes, clothing, pets, or tools come into contact with these poisonous plants, avoid touching them in the contaminated areas and wash them as soon as possible. If a contaminated object isn’t cleaned, you can still develop a rash from touching it years later!
If you have been in direct contact with a poisonous plant, wash the affected area as soon as possible. This can lessen the severity of the rash. Then try this poison ivy home remedy!
If you'd like further reading as you journey into nature, you can find helpful leaf identification charts and tutorials at the following sites.
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