have foliage that remains functional through more than
one growing season, whereas deciduous plants shed
all or nearly all their foliage each year. A typical leaf
consists of two principal parts: the expanded leaf
blade or lamina, and the slender leaf
stalk or petiole. Frequently there are scaly
or leaf-like outgrowths at the base of the petiole known
as stipules , which may be leaf-like, spines, or
glands. In dicots and some gymnosperms, the lamina is a
thin sheet of green tissue strengthened by the midrib
and lateral veins. There are three main types of
venation in leaves:
- In parallel - veined
leaves, the veins run parallel to each other.
This condition is characteristic of the
monocotyledoneae. Parallel veins may run lengthwise
on the leaf, as in Eucharis grandiflora (Amazon
lily), or they may be parallel, but directed outward
from the midrib to the margin (penniparallel).
- Pinnately - veined
leaves have a single primary vein or midrib,
from which smaller veins branch off, like the
divisions of a feather. Examples are Eriobotrya
japonica (loquat) and Camellia japonica (camellia).
- Palmately - veined
leaves have several principal veins radiating
from the base of the leaf blade, as in Acer
rubrum (red maple) and Carica papaya (papaya).
narrow, several times longer than wide, and essentially
of the same width throughout.
much longer than wide and tapering towards the apex from
a broader base.
much longer than wide, tapering towards the base instead
of the apex (the opposite of lanceolate).
nearly twice as long as broad, with the sides nearly or
parallel most of their length.
oblong, broadest in the middle with the two ends
egg-shaped, with the broadest part near the base.
opposite of ovate, with the narrower part near the base.
wedge-shaped, broad at the tip and tapering by nearly
straight lines to an acute angle at the base.
oblong but tapering to a narrow base; spoon-shaped.
arrow-shaped; lobes at base acute and pointing downward,
while the main body tapers upward to a point.
kidney-shaped; like cordate but rounder and broader than
a small pair of projections, or ears, usually at the
halberd-shaped; lobes at base pointed and narrow and
nearly at right angles to petiole.
prolonged into a narrowed or tapering point.
ending in an acute angle, but not a prolonged point.
blunt or rounded apex.
square end that looks cut off.
indented or notched.
inversely heart-shaped; an obovate leaf which is much
more deeply notched at the tip.
tipped with an elongated sharp or rigid point.
abruptly tipped with a small, short point; like a mere
projection of the midrib.
Entire - even
line, without teeth, notches, or lobes.
cut into sharp, saw-like teeth pointing forward.
toothed, teeth point outward instead of forward and are
teeth are short and rounded; also called scalloped.
margin of the leaf forms a wavy line, bending slightly
inward and outward in succession.
like undulate, margin is very wavy (sinuous).
cut into sharp, deep, and irregular teeth or incisions.
incisions do not extend deeper than halfway between the
margin and the center of the blade and are rounded.
incisions extend more than halfway between the margin
and the center of the blade, and are sharper.
Deeply Lobed -
incisions are even deeper, but not quite to the midrib
or base of the blade.
Simple - blade
is of one piece, as in Camellia japonica . It may
still be simple and be lobed or cleft, as in Hibiscus
rosa-sinensis (hibiscus), Quercus shumardii (Shumard
oak), and Acer rubrum (red maple).
blade is made up of a number of separate leaflets. The
two principal types of compound leaves are pinnate and
- Pinnate -
leaflets or pinnae are arranged on the sides of the
main leaf stalk. Examples are Nephrolepsis
exaltata 'Bostoniensis' (Boston sword fern), Roystonea
regia (Cuban royal palm), and Zamia floridana
- Odd Pinnate -
pinnate with an odd number of leaflets; has an
end leaflet. Examples are Schinus
terebinthifolius (Brazilian pepper), Wisteria
sinensis (wisteria), Tecomaria capensis (Cape
honeysuckle), and Koelreuteria elegans (golden-rain
- Even Pinnate -
pinnate with an even number of leaflets; no end
leaflet. Examples are Senna alata (candle
bush) and Tamarindus indica (tamarind).
- Bi-pinnate -
leaflets are twice pinnate (the primary pinnae
or leaflets are again divided into secondary
leaflets), such as in Albizzia julibrissin (mimosa),
Delonix regia (royal poinciana), Melia
azedarach (chinaberry), and Jacaranda spp.
- Palmate -
the leaflets are attached directly to the end of the
petiole and extend outward much like fingers in a
palm. Examples are Schefflera actinophylla (Australian
umbrella tree) and Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia
Leaf Arrangements on
one leaf at each node, as in Hibiscus rosa-sinensis (hibiscus),
Brunfelsia australis (yesterday-today-and-tomorrow),
and Citrus spp. (citrus).
two leaves at each node, always on opposite sides of the
stem. Examples are Catharanthus roseus (periwinkle),
Ixora coccinea (ixora), and Viburnum
odoratissimum (sweet viburnum).
more than two leaves at a node spaced around the stem,
as in Nerium oleander (oleander) and Macadamia
petiole (leaf stalk) is present, examples are Hibiscus
rosa-sinensis (hibiscus) and Quercus spp.
attached directly to the main stem or branch without a
petiole, as in Podocarpus macrophyllus (Japanese
yew) and Gloriosa superba 'Rothschildiana' (gloriosa
petiole attached to the lower surface of the leaf
instead of at the base or margin, as in Tropaeolum
majus (garden nasturtium).
leaf partially encircles the stem, as in Calendula
base of the leaf is wrapped around the stem like a grass
leaf, as in Zea mays (corn) and Zingiber spp.
leaf base extends downward to form a wing or ridge along
the stem, as in Psidium guajava (guava).
Winged petiole -
petiole has a leaf-like or membrane-like extension along
its length, as in Citrus x paradisi (grapefruit).
Winged rachis -
compound leaf stem with a membrane-like extension on
both sides of the rachis, as in Rhus copallinum (winged
stipules located on the sides of the petiole, as in Hibiscus
stipules which adhere to the sides of the petiole, as in
Trifolium spp. (clover) and Rosa spp.
green, leaf-like stipules which serve as foliage, as in Pisum
sativum (pea) and Delonix regia (royal
Other Leaf Types
Needle-shaped leaves -
such as those in Pinus spp. (pines).
Needle-like leaves -
margin of the leaf is so strongly rolled backward that
the leaf appears tubular, such as in Ceratiola
ericoides (Florida rosemary).
scale-like leaves - very reduced leaves, as in Platycladus
orientalis (arbor vitae), Taxodium ascendens (pond
cypress), and adult Juniperus silicicola (red
juicy, fleshy, soft, and thickened in texture.
rough to the touch; texture of sandpaper.
- surface is not hairy, rough, pubescent, or
covered with very short, weak, and soft hairs.
covered with gray or white soft hairs as in Leucophyllum
frutescens (Texas sage).
covered with matted, woolly hairs.
pubescent with coarse, stiff hairs.
rough with bristles, stiff hairs, or minute spines.
Handbook for Florida, Revised Edition, Kathleen
C. Ruppert, January 1999 -- This document is copyrighted
by the University of Florida, Institute of Food and
Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) for the people of the
State of Florida. UF/IFAS retains all rights under all
conventions, but permits free reproduction by all agents
and offices of the Cooperative Extension Service and the
people of the State of Florida. Permission is granted to
others to use these materials in part or in full for
educational purposes, provided that full credit is given
to the UF/IFAS, citing the publication, its source, and
date of publication.