Identify a Tree with Leaf Silhouettes

01
of 29
Tree Leaf Silhouettes

Autumn landscape with colorful trees in forest
Gabriela Tulian / Getty Images

In his publication Deciduous Trees & Shrubs of Central Minnesota, Stephen G. Saupe, Ph.D., biology professor, has offered silhouettes of some of the common species in Minnesota as well as throughout North America. These diagrams were designed to help his students study leaf form.

Here are some leaf silhouettes inspired by Dr. Saupe's collection. One caution: these images are not to scale, so refer to the leaf size description.

More Leaf Illustrations

02
of 29
Green Ash Leaf Silhouette

Silhouettes Green Ash Leaf
Silhouettes Green Ash Leaf. Stephen G. Saupe

Ash (Fraxinus spp.)

  • Leaf opposite ranked.
  • Leaf pinnately compound.
  • Leaf 8 to 12 inches long.

Quickly Identify Green Ash

03
of 29
Horse Chestnut/Buckeye Leaf Silhouette

Silhouettes Buckeye Leaf
Silhouettes Buckeye Leaf. Stephen G. Saupe

Horse Chestnut/Buckeye (Aesculus spp.)

  • Leaf opposite ranked.
  • Leaf palmately compound.
  • Leaf 4 to 7 inches long.

04
of 29
Maple Leaf Silhouette

Silhouettes Maple Leaf
Silhouettes Maple Leaf. Stephen G. Saupe

Sugar Maple (Acer spp.)

  • Leaf opposite ranked.
  • Leaf simple, lobed.
  • Leaf 3 to 6 inches long.

05
of 29
Basswood Leaf Silhouette

Silhouettes Basswood Leaf
Silhouettes Basswood Leaf. Stephen G. Saupe

Basswood or Linden (Tilia spp.)

  • Leaf alternate ranked.
  • Leaf simple.
  • Leaf 4 to 10 inches long.

06
of 29
Ironwood Leaf Silhouette

Silhouettes Ironwood Leaf
Silhouettes Ironwood Leaf. Stephen G. Saupe

Ironwood (Carpinus spp.)

  • Leaf alternate ranked.
  • Leaf simple, toothed, pointed.
  • Leaf 1 to 5 inches long.

07
of 29
Hackberry Leaf Silhouette

Silhouettes Hackberry Leaf
Silhouettes Hackberry Leaf. Stephen G. Saupe

Hackberry (Celtis spp.)

  • Leaf alternate ranked.
  • Leaf simple, toothed, 3-veined at base.
  • Leaf 2 to 5 inches long.

08
of 29
Cottonwood Leaf Silhouette

Silhouettes Cottonwood Leaf
Silhouettes Cottonwood Leaf. Stephen G. Saupe

Cottonwood (Carpinus spp.)

  • Leaf alternate ranked.
  • Leaf simple, pinnately veined, flat based.
  • Leaf 3 to 5 inches long.

09
of 29
Catalpa Leaf Silhouette

Silhouettes Catalpa Leaf
Silhouettes Catalpa Leaf. Stephen G. Saupe

Catalpa (Catalpa spp.)

  • Leaf whorled ranked.
  • Leaf simple.
  • Leaf 7 to 12 inches long.

10
of 29
Honey Locust Leaf Silhouette

Silhouettes Honey Locust Leaf
Silhouettes Honey Locust Leaf. Stephen G. Saupe

Honey Locust (Gleditsia spp.)

  • Leaf alternate ranked.
  • Leaf compound to doubly compound.
  • Leaf 4 to 8 inches long.

11
of 29
Red Oak Leaf Silhouette

Silhouettes Red Oak Leaf
Silhouettes Red Oak Leaf. Stephen G. Saupe

Red Oak (Quercus spp.)

  • Leaf alternate ranked.
  • Leaf simple, bristle-tipped lobes.
  • Leaf 5 to 9 inches long.

12
of 29
Prickly Ash Leaf Silhouette

Silhouettes Prickly Ash Leaf
Silhouettes Prickly Ash Leaf. Stephen G. Saupe

Prickly Ash (Xanthoxylum spp.)

  • Leaf alternate ranked.
  • Leaf once compound.
  • Leaf 3 to 10 inches long.

13
of 29
Quaking Aspen Leaf Silhouette

Silhouettes Quaking Aspen Leaf
Silhouettes Quaking Aspen Leaf. Stephen G. Saupe

Quaking Aspen (Populus spp.)

  • Leaf alternate ranked.
  • Leaf simple, heart-shaped to nearly round.
  • Leaf 1 to 3 inches long.

14
of 29
Birch Leaf Silhouette

Silhouettes Birch Leaf
Silhouettes Birch Leaf. Stephen G. Saupe

Birch (Carpinus spp.)

  • Leaf alternate ranked.
  • Leaf simple.
  • Leaf 1 to 3 inches long.

15
of 29
White Oak Leaf Silhouette

Silhouettes White Oak Leaf
Silhouettes White Oak Leaf. Stephen G. Saupe

White Oak (Quercus spp.)

  • Leaf alternate ranked.
  • Leaf simple, finger-like lobes.
  • Leaf 2 to 9 inches long.

16
of 29
American Elm Leaf Silhouette

Silhouettes American Elm Leaf
Silhouettes American Elm Leaf. Stephen G. Saupe

American Elm (Ulmus spp.)

  • Leaf alternate ranked.
  • Leaf simple, doubly serrated, base inequilateral.
  • Leaf 3 to 6 inches long.

17
of 29
Dogwood Leaf Silhouette

Silhouettes Dogwood Leaf
Silhouettes Dogwood Leaf. Steve Nix

Flowering Dogwood (Cornus spp.)

  • Leaf opposite ranked.
  • Leaf simple, entire or slightly wavy margin, arc-veined.
  • Leaf 2 to 4 inches long.

18
of 29
Redbud Leaf Silhouette

Silhouettes Redbud Leaf
Silhouettes Redbud Leaf. Steve Nix

Redbud (Cercis spp.)

  • Leaf alternate ranked.
  • Leaf simple, heart-shaped.
  • Leaf 2 to 5 inches long.

19
of 29
Sawtooth Oak Leaf Silhouette

Silhouettes Sawtooth Oak Leaf
Silhouettes Sawtooth Oak Leaf. Steve Nix

Sawtooth Oak (Quercus spp.)

  • Leaf alternate ranked.
  • Leaf simple, toothed.
  • Leaf 3 to 7 inches long.

20
of 29
Sycamore Leaf Silhouette

Silhouettes Sycamore Leaf
Silhouettes Sycamore Leaf. Steve Nix

American Sycamore (Platanus spp.)

  • Leaf alternate ranked.
  • Leaf simple, palmately lobed.
  • Leaf 4 to 8 inches long.

21
of 29
Yellow Poplar Leaf Silhouette

Silhouettes Yellow Poplar Leaf
Silhouettes Yellow Poplar Leaf. Steve Nix

Yellow Poplar (Liriodendron spp.)

  • Leaf alternate ranked.
  • Leaf simple, two-lobed tip, two side lobes.
  • Leaf 3 to 8 inches long.

22
of 29
Willow Oak Leaf Silhouette

Silhouettes Willow Oak Leaf
Silhouettes Willow Oak Leaf. Steve Nix

Willow Oak (Quercus spp.)

  • Leaf alternate ranked.
  • Leaf simple, willow-like, narrow.
  • Leaf 2 to 5.5 inches long.

23
of 29
Water Oak Leaf Silhouette

Silhouettes Water Oak Leaf
Silhouettes Water Oak Leaf. Steve Nix

Water Oak (Quercus spp.)

  • Leaf alternate ranked.
  • Leaf simple, extremely variable in shape.
  • Leaf 2 to 5 inches long.

24
of 29
Southern Magnolia Leaf Silhouette

Silhouettes Southern Magnolia Leaf
Silhouettes Southern Magnolia Leaf. Steve Nix

Southern Magnolia (Magnolia spp.)

  • Leaf alternate ranked.
  • Leaf simple, evergreen, plastic-like, fuzzy underneath.
  • Leaf 5 to 10 inches long.

25
of 29
Chinese Tallow Tree Leaf Silhouette

Silhouettes Chinese Tallow Tree Leaf
Silhouettes Chinese Tallow Tree Leaf. Steve Nix

Chinese Tallow Tree (Sapium spp.)

  • Leaf alternate ranked.
  • Leaf simple.
  • Leaf 1 to 2 inches long plus petiole length.

26
of 29
Persimmon Leaf Silhouette

Silhouettes Persimmon Leaf
Silhouettes Persimmon Leaf. Steve Nix

Basswood or Linden (Tilia spp.)

  • Leaf alternate ranked.
  • Leaf simple, margin serrate, venation pinnate
  • Leaf 2 to 8 inches long.

27
of 29
Sweetgum Leaf Silhouette

Silhouettes Sweetgum Leaf
Silhouettes Sweetgum Leaf. Steve Nix

Sweetgum

  • Leaf palmately lobed and alternate ranked.
  • Leaf simple.
  • Leaf 4 to 6 inches long.

28
of 29
Sassafras Leaves Silhouette

Silhouettes Sassafras Leaves
Silhouettes Sassafras Leaves. Steve Nix

Sasssafras

  • Leaf alternate ranked.
  • Leaf simple, unlobed, one lobe and two-lobed (tri-shaped).
  • Leaf 3 to 6 inches long.

29
of 29
Redcedar Leaf Silhouette

Silhouettes Redcedar Leaf
Silhouettes Redcedar Leaf. Steve Nix

Redcedar

  • Leaf scale-like and evergreen.
  • Leaf often paired on stem.
  • Leaf to one-quarter inches long.