If you’ve collected a bunch of leaves on your leaf hunt, here are some fun ways to learn how to identify them:
Identify your leaves – The University of Florida has a printable Botany Handbook filled with information about leaves and plants that you may find useful. It also offers a bunch of plant illustrations here. Check your state’s Extension Office website for great resources as well!
This site may prove helpful when identifying leaves:
Make leaf identification cards
You will need:
Index cards or cardstock cut to the size you need, something to write with, leaves that have been pressed and acid-free glue
What to do:
Glue each leaf to the blank side of an index card or cardstock, and write down what tree it came from. If you want to write more info about the leaf/tree, do this on the back of the card before gluing the leaf on.
Make leaf print identification cards
You will need:
Index cards or cardstock cut to the size you need, something to write with, leaves: fresh or pressed, a paint brush and food dye, water color, or non-toxic paint, bowl of water to clean brushes and leaves, and a paper towel to blot brushes and dry the leaves, something to put paint in such as small caps or lids
What to do:
Put a little paint or dye in a lid or a cap, paint the raised side of the leaf with a paint brush, and press it onto the index card. Rinse your leaf off in water and dry it. Write the name of the leaf on the card when the paint dries.
Tip: Markers can be used to make prints too.
Play games with your identification cards
- If you make two identification cards for each of your leaves, you can play a match game with them. If you can see through the card, glue a piece of construction paper behind each one.
- Consider making one card with a leaf print and the other with the tree name.
- This game can be played with one or more players.
- Make 10 or more sets of cards. If you do not have that many leaves, make multiple leaf prints in different colors.
Go Fish Version
Make 15 or more pairs of leaf cards and play with them as you would the game, ‘Go Fish‘.
How well do you know your leaves?
Make 10 or more different cards for the following games.
Play a game of 20 questions with your leaf cards. One player chooses a card but doesn’t tell the other players what it is. Then the players take turns asking yes or no questions to try and guess what leaf it is. After 20 questions (or an agreed on amount), the card can be shown. The player who guesses correctly collects the card, chooses another card from the pile, and the game begins again.
Guess My Leaf
A player chooses a card and describes it to the other players without saying its name. Players take turns trying to guess what leaf is being described. If a player gets it right, they collect the card, and choose a card to start another round. If players need to be shown the card, decide who gets to describe the next card.
Tip: When describing the leaf, players should be allowed to add any information they know about it, and the tree it came from: Where it can be found, the type of leaf it is (if known), how tall the tree can grow, the type of seed it disperses, the technical name for it, etc.
When all the leaves have fallen off the tree, use your cards to identify what leaf would grow on that tree.
While the trees are budding, predict what the leaf will look like.
Note: To identify your leaves, you can use the following site to help you out, or ask someone who knows a lot about trees: A knowledgeable neighbor, friend or family member, a local nursery that s
ells trees, an arborist, a horticulturalist, your local Extension Office, etc..
This site has an interactive map of the United States to help you identify the tree you are looking for. Click on your region/state, and put in as much information as you can. Click on any of the tree names provided, and it will take you to a picture that offers some information about that tree.