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Anatomy of a Tree Leaf

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Using Botanical Markers to Identify a Tree Leaf
Leaf Anatomy

Leaf Anatomy

Steve Nix
Leaves are food factories for the tree. Powered by sunlight, the green substance in leaves, called chlorophyll, uses carbon dioxide and water to produce life-sustaining carbohydrates. The entire process is called photosynthesis. Leaves are also responsible for respiration and transpiration.

A tree's leaf is also one major botanical marker that helps in keying out and identifying any species of tree that has a leaf. Most trees can be identified by the leaf alone - they are unique! Tree Leaves come in many shapes and sizes, many with similar structures but most with subtle differences. Even slight differences can determine an exact tree species identification.

True leaves are blade-like and have a connection to the twig called a stalk or petiole. The edges of all leaves are called margins and can be smooth or toothed but can also be entire (without lobes) or with a lobe and a sinus.

A Tree leaf can be symmetric or asymmetric off the midrib or midvein. A leaf can have a single midrib or several radiating off the stalk. A leaf will have veins radiating off these midrib(s).

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