A good visual representation of a leaf can go a long way toward helping you identify a tree
. Here are three visual aids designed to help you name a tree using three different sets of information - leaf illustrations, leaf imprints and leaf silhouettes.
Charles Sprague Sargent
Botanist Charles Sprague Sargent was a Harvard University botany graduate, American Civil War veteran and went on to found Harvard's Arnold Arboretum. Sargent was also a talented illustrator of tree's and their parts. Here is a collection of his illustrations of some the most common trees found in the United States.
Steve Nix photo, Licensed to About.com
I have created a photo collection of sixty-six slate tile tree leaf imprints that record the major southern Appalachian tree and forest shrub species near Cheaha Mountain, Alabama in the southern Appalachians. These imbedded leaf and fruit imprints pressed into damp clay of plants make up the most common and abundant trees and woody plants located in forests in the upper Southeast. These excellent impressions can be used as an easy reference and study guide.
Steve Nix Photo, Licensed to About.com
I was inspired by a biology professor's collection of silhouetted leaf diagrams that are designed to help his students study leaf form. I've developed a similar method to create leaf silhouettes using a scanner and digital camera software that offers special effects. I will be adding to this growing collection (presently 35 common species of trees) of North American tree leaf silhouettes as I collect more leaves.