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Leaf Shapes

Below is a list of leaf shapes with their description. (The botanical, or Latin term is italicized in the parenthesis).
  • Acicular (acicularis): Slender and pointed, needle-like

  • Acuminate (acuminata): Tapering to a long point Acute: Pointed, having a short sharp apex angled less than 90

  • Aristate (aristata): Ending in a stiff, bristle-like point Asymmetrical: With the blade shape different on each side of the midrib

  • Basal: Arising from the root crown, bulb, rhizome or corm, etc., as opposed to cauline

  • Bipinnate (bipinnata): Each leaflet also pinnate

  • Caudate: Tailed at the apex

  • Cauline: Borne on the stem, as opposed to basal

  • Compound: Not simple; the leaf is broken up into separate leaflets, and the leaf blade is not continuous

  • Cordate (cordata): Heart-shaped, with the petiole or stem attached to the cleft

  • Cuneate (cuneata): Triangular, stem attaches to point

  • Deltoid (deltoidea) or deltate: Triangular, stem attaches to side

  • Digitate (digitata): Divided into finger-like lobes

  • Elliptic (elliptica): Oval, with a short or no point Entire: Having a smooth margin without notches or indentations

  • Falcate (falcata): Sickle-shaped

  • Fenestrate (fenestrata): "Windowed" with holes (e.g. Monstera deliciosa or Aponogeton fenestralis), or window-like patches of translucent tissue. (cf. Perforate)

  • Filiform (filiformis): Thread- or filament-shaped

  • Flabellate (flabellata): Semi-circular, or fan-like

  • Hastate (hastata), spear-shaped: Pointed, with barbs, shaped like a spear point, with flaring pointed lobes at the base

  • Laciniate: Very deeply lobed, the lobes being very drawn out, often making the leaf look somewhat like a branch or a pitchfork

  • Laminar: Flat (like most leaves)

  • Lance-shaped, lanceolate (lanceolata): Long, wider in the middle

  • Linear (linearis): Long and very narrow

  • Lobed (lobata): With several points

  • Lorate (loratus): Having the form of a thong or strap

  • Mucronate: Ending abruptly in a sharp point

  • Obcordate (obcordata): Heart-shaped, stem attaches to tapering point

  • Oblanceolate (oblanceolata): Top wider than bottom

  • Oblong (oblongus): Having an elongated form with slightly parallel sides

  • Obovate (obovata): Teardrop-shaped, stem attaches to tapering point

  • Obtuse (obtusus): Blunt, forming an angle > 90

  • Orbicular (orbicularis): Circular

  • Ovate (ovata): Oval, egg-shaped, with a tapering point

  • Palmate (palmata): Consisting of leaflets or lobes radiating from the base of the leaf.

  • Pandurate: fiddle-shaped

  • Pedate (pedata): Palmate, with cleft lobes

  • Pedatifid (pedatifida): Nearly pedately divided, but not as deeply

  • Peltate (peltata): Shield-shaped with stem attached underneath

  • Perfoliate (perfoliata): Stem through the leaves

  • Perforate (perforata): marked with patches of translucent tissue, as in Crassula perforata and Hypericum perforatum, or perforated with holes

  • Pinnate (pinnata): Two rows of leaflets

    • Odd-pinnate, imparipinnate: Pinnate with a terminal leaflet

    • Paripinnate, even-pinnate: Pinnate lacking a terminal leaflet

    • Pinnatifid and pinnatipartite: Leaves with pinnate lobes that are not discrete, remaining sufficiently connected to each other that they are not separate leaflets.

    • Bipinnate, twice-pinnate: The leaflets are themselves pinnately-compound

    • Tripinnate, thrice-pinnate: The leaflets are themselves bipinnate

    • Tetrapinnate: The leaflets are themselves tripinnate.

  • Pinnatisect (pinnatifida): Cut, but not to the midrib (it would be pinnate then)

  • Serenoa seedlings have pleated elliptic leaves, but mature plants have pleated palmate leaves.

  • Plicate (plicatus, plicata): folded into pleats, usually lengthwise, serving the function of stiffening a large leaf.

  • Pungent (spinose): Having hard, sharp points.

  • Reniform (reniformis): Kidney-shaped

  • Retuse: With a shallow notch in a broad apex

  • Rhomboid (rhomboidalis): Diamond-shaped

  • Round (rotundifolia): Circular

  • Sagittate (sagittata): Arrowhead-shaped

  • Simple: Leaf blade in one continuous section, not divided into leaflets (not compound)

  • Spear-shaped: see Hastate.

  • Spatulate, spathulate (spathulata): Spoon-shaped

  • Subulate (subulata): Awl-shaped with a tapering point

  • Subobtuse (subobtusa): Somewhat blunted, neither blunt nor sharp

  • Sword-shaped (ensiformis): Long, thin, pointed

  • Terete: Circular in cross-section; more or less cylindrical without grooves or ridges.

  • Semiterete: Rounded on one side, but flat on the other.

  • Trifoliate (trifoliata), trifoliolate (trifoliolata), or ternate (ternata): Divided into three leaflets

  • Tripinnate (tripinnata): Pinnately compound in which each leaflet is itself bipinnate

  • Truncate (truncata): With a squared-off end

  • Undulate (undulatus): Wave-like

  • Unifoliate (unifoliata): With a single leaf

 
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Revised: 05/11/16 Living Afield