THE GREEN THUMB ALMANAC 

Your Online Gardening Information Center

Plant Library

What's in a name? Leaf Characteristics

Posted on February 11, 2018 at 10:55 AM

It is not uncommon, in the botanical world, to identify a plant from a leaf sample. The shape, texture or color of a leaf can give you a clue as to what it's botanical name might be. Also, if you know the botanical name of a plant, you can often get an idea of what it might look like. For instance, Helianthus salicifolius, is also known as Willow-leaved Sunflower. Salicifolius means 'with willow-like leaves.' The following is a partial list of descriptive species names of plants as they relate to foliage.


acutifolius = with sharply pointed leaves

alternifolius = with alternate leaves

angustifolius = narrow-leaved

brevifolius = with short leaves

capillifolius = with hair-like leaves

cardiophyllus = with heart-shaped leaves

chrysophyllus = with golden leaves

cordifolius = with heart-shaped leaves

dactylifolius = with finger-like leaves

dentatus = toothed

digitatus = hand-shaped; with fingers

dissectus = deeply divided

diversifolius = leaves of differing shapes

filicifolius = with fern-like leaves

filifolius = thread-leaved

glaucophyllus = with glaucous leaves

grandifolius = with large leaves

integrifolius = with undivided leaves

latifolius = broad-leaved

longifolius = long-leaved

macrophyllus = with large leaves

microphyllus = with small leaves

millefolius, millefoliatus = with a thousand leaves

oblongifolius = with oblong leaves

oppositifolius = opposite-leaved

ovalifolius = with oval leaves

palmatus = palmate

polifolius = grey-leaved

planifolius = with flat leaves

rhombifolius = with diamond-shaped leaves

rotundifolius = with round leaves

rubrifolius = with red leaves

sagittifolius = with arrow-shaped leaves

serratifolius = with serrated leaves

stenohyllus = with narrow leaves

tenifolius = with thin leaves

Information adapted from: "Plant Names Explained, Botanical Terms and their Meaning," Gorden, Sue, Editor, Horticulture Publications, Boston, Massachusetts 2005

Categories: About Plant Names