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Identify trees from the leaves

At AgroCorrn we have proposed, on countless occasions, the realization of outdoor activities, either alone, as a couple or as a family. Walks in the woods, picnics when the good weather arrives and excursions to places that we did not know are inexpensive, healthy and ecological ways to spend leisure time, as well as very entertaining, pleasant and educational.

In one of these excursions to the forest you can go further and play with your family and friends to identify the trees only by examining their leaves. It is a very fun activity that will make you learn a lot about the trees of your region in a very short time. Next, we explain how to identify trees from the leaves .

  1. General tree culture
  2. Exit to explore trees and their leaves
  3. Examining tree leaves to identify them
  4. Examples of some trees and their leaves
  5. Apps to identify trees by leaves
  6. Webs to identify a tree by the type of leaf

General tree culture

To do this, we will first of all identify the trees that are present in the region or forest in which we are going to explore. It is necessary to do it beforehand, since in a single country there can be up to 700 different species of them and not delimiting the circle would be like looking for a needle in a haystack. For example, in Spain there are approximately 7,000 million trees. Surely the list of treescommon ones makes the fun task easier for you. Although the most predominant tree in the Spanish territory is the oak, followed by some species of pine and others such as oak or beech, it will depend a lot on the region in which you live or are going to visit. Thus, in areas closer to the sea more exotic plants will abound, such as palm trees and in other provinces further south with different climates and terrain characteristics, such as the Canary archipelago, it is more common to find the Canary Island Pine, the juniper or cedar.

Before leaving for the park or forest, we will learn the basics of the most predominant trees in our region. The shape they present, their size, the shape of their trunk or leaves or the characteristics of the tree itself. Prepare a Power Point presentation to watch as a family or watch, in company, one of the many instructional videos on it that you will find.

Exit to explore trees and their leaves

Once we have a basic idea of ​​what the closest trees are like and can easily distinguish an oak from a eucalyptus, it is time to put on comfortable boots and go escape into nature. Each member of the team can carry a basket or similar where they will keep the sheets they find, trying to find the most original ones and those that no one has picked up until then.

Examining tree leaves to identify them

Once you sit down to eat in the forest, or at home, gather all the leaves to start the entertaining game of guessing which is which. When examining a leaf to identify a tree, consider its shape, size, color and the morphology of the vein (the “bones” of the leaves):

The morphology of a leaf can be of many different forms and it is difficult to grasp them at first, if you are a beginner. For example, we can find it wide and flat, narrow, lobed or webbed. The shape of the leaf will also allow us to classify them into two large groups: perennial or deciduous.

  • The evergreens can have sheet (the most common) flat, acicular (needle – like point), linear (or elongated estilosa) or escualiforme, ie scaly.
  • The deciduous ones have leaves in a palmate shape, with tips (the typical autumn leaf that we use for Halloween decoration), oval (wider than linear ones), heart-shaped (the lower part reminds of a heart), rounded (like an apple), compound leaves and many other varieties.

Surely, once its shape is identified, we are forging an idea of ​​what type of tree it can be, recovering the lessons learned previously. In a second, more exhaustive examination, we will explore if they have fruits, what their edges and ribs are like to give us more clues.

Some leaves are easier to identify than others, so if on the first trip to the forest we cannot know which one belongs to which tree, we should not be discouraged. That we do not do it is the most normal thing. It will help a lot to create a mural at home where you can paste the leaves identified with the name of the tree below and thus build a graph that will be expanded after each excursion and that will end up making us experts in the flora of our region.

Examples of some trees and their leaves

It would be impossible to describe all of them, but many of the trees that we know have leaves that are very easy to classify. For example, the fir, that tree associated with Christmas, has needle-shaped leaves that we will identify shortly. Likewise, there are different trees whose leaves we can quickly identify if we know them correctly:

  • The holm oak , the predominant tree in the Iberian Peninsula par excellence (in fact 1 out of every 5 trees in our country is an oak) has leaves that present an easily identifiable morphology.
  • The chestnut , which gives us delicious fruits perfect for roasting in autumn, has a green or yellow compound leaf (as the season progresses) and you will identify it, among other things, its edges look like small fangs.
  • Surely you have heard of the ash tree, a very abundant tree in the province of Castilla y León, with a thin and tall trunk. Its leaves are elongated, compound and are born opposite each other.
  • The oaks , strong tree that lives many years, hence the popular saying, have broad, gnarled leaves with uneven edges.
  • The elms are trees grandísimos broad crown, its leaves are also made, but born alternate, simple, serrated present and asymmetrical at the base. In addition, they end in a very pronounced point.

Apps to identify trees by leaves

New technologies, once again, give us a faster possibility to identify trees and know exactly if we have succeeded in our divine intent or not. We recommend the Leafsnap application , one of the most revolutionary on the market in this area, which will tell you in a second what type of tree a leaf belongs to after having photographed it with your mobile. Its main problem is that, being developed in the United States, it includes mainly American species in its database, so it is possible that some native tree remains unidentified.

To do this, that of the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) developed a similar application based on wild trees from the Iberian Peninsula (and islands) called Arbolapp . It includes 118 tree species and is freely available from common application markets. The drawings and data that accompany it will allow you to learn a lot and very quickly about the trees in your region.

Other similar ones are Leaf and Flower , which allows you to learn from descriptions of the structure and shape, explore the differences or list characteristics of the tree’s flowers, or others such as Plant Tracker . If, in addition to the leaves, you also want to identify the flowers, we recommend you try the Like That Garden app , which identifies flowers through photography and Flower Garden, which presents us with a most relaxing experience.

Discover in this other EcologíaVrerde article more about the different Applications to recognize trees and plants .

Webs to identify a tree by the type of leaf

Internet web pages also provide us with numerous options. Although the best quality that we have found are in English, there are also many in Spanish that allow you to identify the tree by filtering certain characteristics, such as Trees of the World . To do this, all you have to do is select the data that fits the sheet in front of you. If it is simple, compound, the shape it presents or the characteristics of its edges. When you reach the end of the search, you will get, not only the botanical name of the species itself, but also the peculiarities of that tree, which you will surely be very interested in knowing about.

We guarantee that, after one or two months developing this game as a family, your knowledge about the trees in your region, how they live, what fruits they bear and various curiosities, will have greatly expanded. Learning to know the flora of your region will also help the little ones to love and respect natural species, as well as to watch over them when they become adults, something that will serve as a valuable lesson for the future.

If you want to read more articles similar to Identifying trees from their leaves , we recommend that you enter our Biodiversity category .

Maria Anderson

Hello, I am a blogger specialized in environmental, health and scientific dissemination issues in general. The best way to define myself as a blogger is by reading my texts, so I encourage you to do so. Above all, if you are interested in staying up to date and reflecting on these issues, both on a practical and informative level.

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