You can most reliably identify a tree by the shape, colour and size of its leaves. Get hold of a leaf, examine it closely and note the shape of the leaf, its size and colour and whether it is toothed or smooth edged. Note the veins visible on the underside – how many are there on each side of the main rib and are they straight or curved. Is the leaf lobed or split into leaflets. Many conifers have leaves in the form of needles – are they clustered or in rows and how long are they? Most Broadleaf trees have leaves from spring to autumn. Most Conifers are Evergreens and have leaves all the year. If you can take a photo of the upper side and lower side of the leaf, download it to your computer and compare it with other leaves in this guide when you get home. When you take the photograph always include a hand or finger alongside it to indicate the size of the leaf.
Tree identification by leaf shape – The first step is to decide whether the tree is a Broadleaf tree or a Conifer. Two examples of each type are shown here.
Broadleaf trees generally have wide leaves which are quite different from the narrow needles or scale-like leaves of the Conifers. Click on the Broadleaf button to get access to a key with over 100 species divided into 18 shapes with links to 15 more pages
Conifers generally have needle-like leaves in clusters or rows and scale-like leaves in fern-like arrangements. Click on the Conifer button to get access to a key with over 50 species divided into 14 shapes with links to 3 more pages