Nature Trees & Leaves Photo Guide Simple Lobed Leaves

  Simple Lobed Leaves

Single leaves with lobes that look somewhat like a hand with fingers.

Red Maple
Black Oak
White Oak


Sycamore family.
Platanus occidentalis

Common name:
American Planetree

Sycamores really like moisture! You know there's water where you see sycamores. Often you can tell where a river or creek flows without seeing the water if you see a line of light-green, whitish-trunked sycamores. The bark peels off the trunks, leaving them almost white. 

Sycamores grow to 60-100'. Their trunks can become larger, but they are usually 2-4' in diameter.

Sycamore leaves have three larger lobes and often, as in this one, two smaller ones. 

The leaves are usually 4-8" long and wide, but they may be larger. 

 Red Maple

Maple Family. Acer rubrum
Common names:
Swamp Maple, Scarlet Maple

There are several kinds of Maples, but their leaves usually share a family resemblance. Red Maples like lots of moisture.  They can grow to 90" in some places, but they are usually smaller around here.

Notice that this leaf has 3 lobes (fingers) with points. It is about 3 or 4 inches long and wide, and its red stalk is about 4 inches long. The red stalk helps identify this leaf as a Red Maple.


Laurel family.
Sassafras albidum

Sassafras trees can grow to 60 feet, but you usually see them much smaller as understory trees and shrubs. 

You'll know them because they have simple lobed leaves, usually with three lobes. The leaves can look like mittens.

As you can see from this branch, sassafras leaves can also be oval-shaped without lobes, or have just two lobes. 

If you have any doubt about whether it is sassafras, pick a leaf and crush it.  You'll smell root beer!

 Black Oak

Beech family. Quercus velutina

This leaf is about 6" long and has about 9 shallow lobes (short fingers) depending how you count them. Black Oak leaves are usualy 3" to 6" long, and have from 7 to 9 lobes. The stalk that attaches to the twig is short, an inch or less.

Notice that the leaf ends in short  sharp points.

Black Oaks get their name from their dark trunks. You'll see long grooves running up the bark. They can grow to 100 feet. 

Black Oak acorns
 White Oak

Beech family.Quercus alba

These leaves are about 3" to 6" long, but White Oak leaves can be 9" long. Notice that the lobes are rounded, and it looks like there are from 5 or 6 to 8 or 9 lobes, depending on which leaf and how you count them. The leaf is narrower toward the base where it attaches to the twig. It has hardly any stalk.


The trunk is gray, much lighter than the Black Oak's. and has a shaggy look. White Oaks can grow to 100 feet.


Sources: National Audubon Society Field Guide to Trees, Eastern Region,by Elbert L. Little, 2000, Alfred A. Knopf, New York. Flora of Missouri,by Julian A.Steyermark, Iowa State University Press, Ames, Iowa, 1981. Photos and text by Peter Callaway.

This is the Web site of the Bryant Watershed Education Project, based in West Plains, Missouri. Our site is a toolkit for exploring the Bryant Creek, North Fork, Eleven Point and Upper Spring watersheds in the southern Missouri Ozarks.
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