Identify a Tree With 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.

01
of 28

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
02
of 28

Horse Chestnut/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
03
of 28

Maple Leaf

Silhouettes Maple Leaf
Stephen G. Saupe

Sugar Maple (Acer spp.)

  • Leaf opposite ranked
  • Leaf simple, lobed
  • Leaf 3 to 6 inches long
04
of 28

Basswood Leaf

Silhouettes Basswood Leaf
Stephen G. Saupe

Basswood or Linden (Tilia spp.)

  • Leaf alternate ranked
  • Leaf simple
  • Leaf 4 to 10 inches long
05
of 28

Ironwood Leaf

Silhouettes Ironwood Leaf
Stephen G. Saupe

Ironwood (Carpinus spp.)

  • Leaf alternate ranked
  • Leaf simple, toothed, pointed
  • Leaf 1 to 5 inches long
06
of 28

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
07
of 28

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
08
of 28

Catalpa Leaf

Silhouettes Catalpa Leaf
Stephen G. Saupe

Catalpa (Catalpa spp.)

  • Leaf whorled ranked
  • Leaf simple
  • Leaf 7 to 12 inches long
09
of 28

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
10
of 28

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
11
of 28

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
12
of 28

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
13
of 28

Birch Leaf

Silhouettes Birch Leaf
Stephen G. Saupe

Birch (Carpinus spp.)

  • Leaf alternate ranked
  • Leaf simple
  • Leaf 1 to 3 inches long
14
of 28

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
15
of 28

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
16
of 28

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
17
of 28

Redbud Leaf

Silhouettes Redbud Leaf
Steve Nix

Redbud (Cercis spp.)

  • Leaf alternate ranked
  • Leaf simple, heart-shaped
  • Leaf 2 to 5 inches long
18
of 28

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
19
of 28

Sycamore Leaf

Silhouettes Sycamore Leaf
Steve Nix

American Sycamore (Platanus spp.)

  • Leaf alternate ranked
  • Leaf simple, palmately lobed
  • Leaf 4 to 8 inches long
20
of 28

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
21
of 28

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
22
of 28

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
23
of 28

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
24
of 28

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
25
of 28

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
26
of 28

Sweetgum Leaf

Silhouettes Sweetgum Leaf
Steve Nix

Sweetgum

  • Leaf palmately lobed and alternate ranked
  • Leaf simple
  • Leaf 4 to 6 inches long
27
of 28

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
28
of 28

Redcedar Leaf

Silhouettes Redcedar Leaf
Steve Nix

Redcedar

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