How to Identify Fruit Trees by Leaves

Don't wait for your fruit tree to bear fruit to identify it. Instead, examine the characteristics of its leaves and compare your observations to a database about trees, such as a field guide for trees or a university's agriculture or horticulture website. After identifying your tree, you can care for it in a manner that is specific to its needs so you can reap a plentiful and succulent harvest.

Apples on tree, Worcester Permain, close-up
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Close up of fruit tree.
Fig leaf
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Fig leaf.

Observe the shape of the leaves. The leaves may be oval or oblong like an apple tree or lobed like a fig tree. They may also be long and narrow like mango or peach tree leaves.

Cherries on tree
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Cherry tree and leaves.

Notice if the margins around the leaves are smooth or have teeth or spines. The edges of fruit tree leaves are usually smooth like grapefruit tree leaves, or have fine teeth, like cherry tree leaves.

Red apple with leaf and slice.
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Apple leaf.

Examine the shine on the leaves. Leaves may be dull like apple tree leaves, or glossy or waxed, like orange tree leaves.

Close-up of an orange
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Tangerine leaf.

Note the leaf color, which can be dark green like tangerine tree leaves, bright green like nectarine tree leaves or light green like mulberry tree leaves. Some leaves are evergreen, like those in the citrus family.

Peach with lead on white background, close-up
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Peach leaf.

Observe any other identifying characteristics. For example, peach tree leaves curve inward and mango leaves are thick and leathery.

Blank red book on white.
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Compare leaves to field guide book.

Compare your observations to the leaf descriptions in a tree field guide book, such as the "National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees" or on a reputable website, such as Purdue University's "Senior Study Fruit and Nuts."

Melissa Lewis

Melissa Lewis is a former elementary classroom teacher and media specialist. She has also written for various online publications. Lewis holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.