This summer, we’ve been out and about in forests, fields, parks and gardens a lot, and enjoyed identifying trees! We noticed that the distinction between tree and shrub is quite impractical for identifying leaves on the go!, and therefore, I decided to extend my 25 Tree Leaves identification chart to 36 Tree and Shrub Leaves, to cover the most common large, woody plants! The infographics is now available at Posterlounge (Amazon / eBay), Redbubble and Søciety6.
Identification Chart for Leaves of Trees and Shrubs
With the help of this practical identification chart, field guide, display board, infographic or learning poster, the leaves or leaf shapes of native trees and shrubs such as apple (botanically Malus domestica), sycamore maple (Acer pseudoplatanus), birch (sand birch, weeping birch; Betula pendula), blackberry (Rubus sect. Rubus), beech (copper beech; Fagus sylvatica), sweet chestnut (chestnut; Castanea sativa), mountain ash (rowan; Sorbus aucuparia), alder (black alder; Alnus glutinosa), ash (Fraxinus excelsior), aspen (Populus tremula), field maple (Acer campestre), buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula), lilac (Syringa vulgaris), rosehip (Dog rose; Rosa canina), hornbeam (Carpinus betulus), (blood-red) dogwood (Cornus sanguinea), hazel (hazelnut; Corylus avellana), (black) elderberry (Sambucus nigra), cherry (sweet cherry, bird cherry; Prunus avium), cherry laurel (laurel cherry; Prunus laurocerasus), lime (small-leaved lime, large-leaved lime; Tilia platyphyllos), poplar (black poplar; Populus nigra), plane tree (Platanus × hispanica), robinia (false acacia; Robinia pseudoacacia), horse chestnut (Chestnut; Aesculus hippocastanum), Rhododendron (Rhododendron ponticum), Red Oak (Quercus rubra), Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa), Holly (Ilex aquifolium), Norway Maple (Maple; Acer platanoides), English oak (Quercus robur), sessile oak (Quercus petraea), elm (Ulmus campestris), walnut (Juglans regia), willow (Salix alba) and hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) in the forest, woods or woodlands, field, park or garden very easily identified, learned and remembered.
About my way of working
What I’m illustrating here is actually the identification charts I always wanted to have myself! I’m super excited about trees and shrubs, but at the same time, I’m so bad at remembering names and characteristics, so I need cheat sheets. And if I draw them myself – and look at them often afterwards –, I sometimes actually notice what’s what… :)
It’s surprisingly time-consuming to not just copy a pretty photo, but instead to first understand and then draw some sort of generalized cross-section, i.e. the blueprint of the species, so to speak, from countless pictures that all depict the personal characteristics of the respective unique object, but that is exactly what helps so much with identification, and that is why I – in general – very much prefer to identify flora and fauna with simple drawings than with photos.
After I had seen black-and-white silhouettes of leaves a long time ago (unfortunately, I don’t remember where?) and found them to be significantly more different (and also more suitable for autumn!) than illustrations of green, special leaf personalities, which somehow look all the same at first sight (often, they’re not even shown from the same top perspective!), I have decided to create my own identification charts in a similarly simplified and black-and-white way, so that all characteristics can be recognized at first sight, without the need for a complicated identification key.
Through various commissions, those charts became a series – first with leaf shapes, animal tracks and bird flight in Lily Lux Notizbuch, then with tree shapes, tree fruits, tree shoots, forest animals and water animals for “Waldstück” by Niedersächsische Landesforsten as well as the cooperation with Hidden Tracks for detailed animal tracks.
Besides the posters and products mentioned in this post, my identification charts can be licensed by request.
If you think that I’ve made errors in my details, feel free to kindly let me know, and please link evidence. Thank you!
Translation into four Languages
In addition to the German version, I have not only translated this field guide into English (as usual) and sorted it accordingly, but also into French and Dutch! I actually enjoyed the process, and if they sell well, I might add others :)
I can read and understand French and Dutch halfway and also speak a little, but unfortunately not (yet) write well. I usually do my research in German, English and Latin, but sometimes also in French and Dutch, because I like to see how different the search results are! So it seemed only logical to offer an infographic in these languages as well.
Dict.cc, Deepl.com (thanks to Anette for the recommendation!) and Wikipedia helped me with the translation of the tree species, and native speakers at Posterlounge then corrected it again (special thanks to Marie!). The French and Dutch translations of this text I did with Deepl and edited very little. I hereby apologise for any possible misspellings!
Posters and Products
This print goes with my series of Natural Science Identification Charts with flora and fauna, in German and English, which are also available from the Posterlounge (also via Amazon und eBay!) in plenty of sizes, from € 6,95 for 13×18. My Leaves of Trees and Shrubs are available there in German, English, French and Dutch now! ➔
In addition, this field guide is also available as postcard or art print, as well as printed products such as shirts, mugs, cushions, mats, towels, blankets, curtains, notebooks, tablets, wrapping paper, stickers, magnets, sleeves, cases, skins, bags and much more, at Redbubble [in German, English, French, Dutch] and Søciety6 [in Englisch]! ➔
Notes on Literature and Apps
Since I first started creating my identification charts, I have acquired a fairly extensive forest library, which I mainly use to coordinate characteristics. However, often items are misleadingly illustrated (e.g. chestnut leaf with only 4 fingers) or described (e.g. elm without the typical asymmetry of the leaf base) – and therefore it can be quite informative to always consult more than one book when in doubt! I most often look into the following books:
★ Gottfried Amann: “Bäume und Sträucher des Waldes: Taschenbildbuch”, Meisungen Neumann 1972
★ Margot Spohn, Marianne Golte-Bechtle, Roland Spohn: “Was blüht denn da?”, Kosmos 2015 (Thanks, Mattheo!).
Amann and Spohn include shrubs as well as trees, while the other books are mostly limited to trees:
★ Elizabeth Martin, Norma Birgin, Terry Callcut: “Bäume erkennen und bestimmen”, Naumann und Göbel 1998
★ Alan Mitchell: “A Field Guide to the Trees of Britain and Northern Europe”, Harper Collins 1974
★ Tony Russell: “Nature Guide: Trees: The World in Your Hands”, Doring Kindersley DK Nature Guide 2012
★ Steve Marsh: “Die 50 schönsten Bäume der Welt: Ein (…) Kunstwerk”, Dorling Kindersley 2019 (Thanks, Bruni!)
★ Otto Schmeil: “Pflanzenkunde: Biologisches Unterrichtswerk”, Manuscriptum 2009 after Quelle & Mayer 1973
Besides trees and shrubs in forests, woods, woodlands, fields, parks, gardens and arboretums (we have a great arboretum in Burgholz in Wuppertal and also an amazing tree collection on the Unigelände at Grifflenberg!), I also find Wikipedia and Baumkunde extremely helpful, especially for details sometimes missing in my books (e.g. size).
Apps like PlantNet or Flora Incognita are also great for verifying whether you have identified the trees and shrubs correctly! If you are out and about with others, it can be fun to look up (and bet!) who has guessed correctly :)
Many thanks to Matthias Klesse, Angelika Luckhaus and Reinhard Luckhaus for bringing all these exciting leaves, twigs and pictures from their excursions, as well as for looking, learning and guessing along with me! <3
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