How to Identify Plants: Leaves Part II

If you haven’t already, check out Part I to learn about leaf parts and arrangements.

Identifying plants- part II

Here we are going to discuss leaf margins and their shapes.

 

Margins

The margin of a leaf is the edge of the leaf. You’ll have to be close to a leaf to be able to see the margin. It’s one of the fine details that can differ leaves from one another.

Entire

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An entire margin is smooth throughout and toothless.

 

Serrate

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Serrated leaves have margins with teeth that point forward.

 

Double Serrate

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Double serrated leaves are like serrated leaves but the serrated margins have serrations themselves.

Dentate

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Dentate margins have symmetrical teeth.

 

Crenate

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Crenate margins have rounded teeth.

Sinuate

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Sinuate margins have wave-like indentations.

 

There are other margins types that get more specific but these are some of the main ones you should know.

Leaf Shapes

There are a lot of different types of leaf shapes. Here are some of the most common ones.

Orbicular

Orbicular leaves are almost completely round.

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Oblong

Oblong leaves are at least twice as long as it is wide.

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Deltoid

Deltoid leaves are triangular in shape.

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Lobed

Lobed leaves have deeply indented margins. Leaves can also be shallowly lobed, like maples and some oaks.

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Ovate

Ovate leaves are egg-shaped and usually have a wider base. The opposite is obovate. These leaves are wider near the tip and narrow at the base.

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Cordate

Cordate leaves are heart shaped. The opposite of a cordate is an Obcordate. An obcordate is a reverse heart shape where the point of the heart is connected to the petiole.

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Linear

Linear leaves are elongated and have parallel margins. They are often longer than they are wide.

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Oblique

An oblique leaf refers to the base of the leaf where it is uneven or crooked.

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In Part III we will talk evergreens and their leaves.


The Description of Leaves
-Profant, Dennis. Trees, Shrubs, and Vines of Southeastern Ohio and Appalachia. By Bill Perine. 4th ed. N.p.: n.p., 2007. 155. Print.