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Shrub Identification by Leaf

Shrub Identification by Leaf
Read this article on shrub identification of leaf, and get the different types of leaf anatomy for various shrubs. Take a look, and enrich your knowledge.
Saptakee Sengupta
Avid gardeners have an indepth knowledge about the flowering bushes, shrubs, and trees. They can easily differentiate between the species by observing the anatomy. A bookish knowledge on plant physiology is not the sole way to understand the different types of plant species. You can also master the art through experience in gardening, and by developing a keen interest towards the different categories of trees, shrubs, and bushes. Thus, you can select varieties for the landscape in your house, and ornament your garden with beautiful plants.

The theory of classification of the plant kingdom has divided shrubs and trees separately. Shrubs, being much shorter than trees, are also known as bushes. Their height ranges from 15-20 ft, having multiple stems with bushy appearance. The height depends on growing conditions, and those lower than 5 meters are also known as subshrubs. They develop dense, leafy foliage clipped as topiary, and their branches and stems tend to grow very close to each other. Different types of shrubs can be classified on the basis of the leaves, stems, fruits, barks, and branches. A few respond well when pruned regularly. The foliage density ranges from mild to dense.
Shrub leaf identification
This is simple if you are acquainted with the basic anatomy of leaves. The factors that help are:
  • Shape
  • Texture and color
  • Bases and tops
  • Margins
  • Arrangement of the leaves
Leaves are of different shapes. They can be narrow and long, while others can be palmate-shaped, or like an open hand. Japanese maple has palmate-shaped leaves, while willow trees have long, narrow ones. The different shapes for the apex of leaves are:
  • acuminate
  • acute
  • emarginate
  • bristle
  • obtuse
  • mucronate
  • truncate
However, before understanding the anatomy of leaves you should have a sound knowledge about the different types of shrubs and bushes. Leaf margins are classified as:
  • crenate
  • dentate
  • entire
  • serrulate
  • lobed
  • undulated
  • spined
  • serrate
  • doubly serrate
Identification is also carried out by the shape of the leaf base. Leaf bases can be:
  • obtuse
  • cordate
  • rounded
  • cuneate
  • unequal
  • truncate
You also have to observe the attachment point of the stem with the base to figure out the actual shape of the leaf base. The edges of the leaves could be smooth or bumpy. Understanding the arrangement of the leaves is also an important aspect for identifying shrubs. The common types of leaf arrangements are:
  • alternate
  • opposite
  • spiral
  • whorled
Most importantly, you must possess the ability to distinguish the types on the basis of leaf shape. Shapes vary from lanceolate to obcordate, oblanceolate, tulip, ovate, and obovate. Leaf type is also one of the anatomical features that help in identification of shrubs, and they are of the following types:
  • Needled
  • palmate
  • pinnate
  • scaled
  • double pinnate
  • simple
The table below shall teach you how to recognize the most common types of shrubs that people usually plant in their garden.
Common Types of Shrubs and Their Identification
*You can click on the image to enlarge and preview them better.
Pine leaf
Pine leaf
Examples of Shrubs: Scots Pine, European Larch
Anatomy of Leaves: Long, thin, paired, clusters
ash leaf
Ash leaf
Examples of Shrubs: Dog Rose, Elder, Rowen, Ash
Anatomy of Leaves: Separate leaflets, compound leaves
hawthorn leaf
Hawthorn leaf
Examples of Shrubs: Sycamore, Field Maple, Hawthorn, London Plane, Guelder Rose, Ivy
Anatomy of Leaves: Hand-shaped, lobed
poplar leaf
Poplar leaf
Examples of Shrubs: Lombardy, Poplar, Silver Birch
Anatomy of Leaves: Triangular, oval
alder leaf
Alder leaf
Examples of Shrubs: Alder
Anatomy of Leaves: Oval, blunt tip
holly leaf
Holly leaf
Examples of Shrubs: Holly
Anatomy of Leaves: Rigid spines, oval
Green Yew Twig With Red Yew Berries
Yew leaf
Examples of Shrubs: Yew
Anatomy of Leaves: Flat, long, spread out
aspen leaf
Aspen leaf
Examples of Shrubs: Hazel, Goat Willow, Aspen, Wayfaring Tree
Anatomy of Leaves: Rounded, oval
Common-Lime leaf
Common-Lime leaf
Examples of Shrubs: Common Lime
Anatomy of Leaves: Heart-shaped, oval
dogwood leaf
Dogwood leaf
Examples of Shrubs: Buckthorn, Dogwood
Anatomy of Leaves: Oval, curved veins
horse chestnut leaf
Horse Chestnut leaf
Examples of Shrubs: Horse Chestnut
Anatomy of Leaves: Compound, hand-shaped
oak leaf
Oak leaf
Examples of Shrubs: Oak
Anatomy of Leaves: Lobed edges, blunt, oval
almond leaf
Almond leaf
Examples of Shrubs: Crack Willow, Almond, Wild Cherry
Anatomy of Leaves: Long, oval
These were some simple guidelines for shrub identification by their leaves. Observe the plants in a nursery, or search for images from the Internet, before planting them in your garden.