Way back in the "dark ages" when I was taking tree identification in college, I pressed hundreds of leaves for further study. Even today, you can't beat using a real, preserved leaf to assist you in tree identification. Wax paper pressing captures some color, highlights a leaf's structure(s) and provides you with a leaf in three dimensions. Collecting the leaf aids you in it's initial identification and gives you a template for future help.
Time Required: Ten minutes per leaf
- Find a leaf on a tree you either know or would like to identify. Collect the leaf or several leaves that most represent an average looking leaf of the tree species.
- Place the collected leaf between two layers of wax paper with plenty of room to trim and preserve the wax "seal".
- Cover the wax paper with a towel. The towel should not be a thick bath type but preferably a thin dish towel. Some people actually use paper towels.
- Turn the iron on medium dry heat and evenly iron over the towel which separates the iron from the wax paper. This heat actually seals the leaf between the wax paper sheets.
- Trim the wax paper specimen to fit a standard weight, three-ring sheet protector and insert it with a label. Keep your collection in a three-ring notebook binder.
- A great way to label your leaf specimen is to "copy and paste" tree information directly from an ID site on the Internet.
- Depending on the tree species, your green leaf will brown a bit. That is normal and should be considered when reviewing leaf color.
- The beauty of leaf collecting is, you don't have to know the tree's name. Take the leaf to a local forester for identification.
- Remember, you can also make a fine collection of fall leaf colors using this same method.
What You Need
- Wax paper
- Thin Towel
- Warmed Iron