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How to Identify Fruit Trees by Their Leaves

In the wild, many types of fruit trees grow throughout the United States. These include such species as the American plum, black cherry, crabapple and persimmon tree. While you may have the ability to ascertain the type of tree by its fruit, you can use the leaves to recognize the tree long before its fruit comes to fruition. Take into account the shapes, sizes and colors of these leaves to make your identification.

Learn the difference first between alternate and opposite leaves. Trees with alternate leaves have a leaf growing on the stem at a node and then another leaf at the next node and so on throughout the branch. Opposite leaves grows two on a node, with one on one side and the other leaf opposite that one on the other side of the twig.

Distinguish a persimmon tree by its alternate oblong-shaped leaves. Look for leaves that are from 4 to 6 inches long and 2 to 3 inches in diameter. Persimmon leaves have no “teeth” on their edges, or margins, with this area on the border of the leaf being smooth. The persimmon tree has dark green leaves that in the fall can turn orange or purple but more often just fade to a lighter green before coming off the tree.

Watch for the leaves of the black cherry tree to be among the first to develop in the springtime. These leaves are alternate on the twigs and are long and narrow, shaped like a spearhead. Notice the leaves, which can be as long as 6 inches, are usually only about 1 inch wide. Look for black cherry leaves to appear shiny on the tops and dark green, but a much lighter hue of green on the undersides. In the breeze, you can see these leaves flutter quite a bit.

Recognize the leaves of sweet crabapple trees by their shape. The alternate leaves are oval but have a distinctly pointed tip and a base that is broad at the point that the stem attaches. These leaves are 2 to 3 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide, with serrated teeth along the edges.

Identify an American plum by the tapering leaves with toothed edges. These leaves on a plum tree will be 3 to 4 inches long and be oblong, with the ends much thinner than the base or middle of the leaf. The edges will have easy-to-see toothed margins and the leaves in the upper part of the tree will grow on thick twigs.

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