Leaf Shapes


This page is from the Northern Ontario Plant Database website.

The width of each basic leaf shapes can be described as narrowly- or widely-, depending on the degree of modification from the standard shapes. Plants with leaves that have more than one shape are called heterophyllous.

Linear - long and narrow, with essentially parallel margins.

Lanceolat  - widest below the middle of the blade and 3 to 6 times as long as wide.

Ovate - widest below the middle of the blade and about 1.5 to 2 as long as wide.

Elliptic - widest at the middle of the blade, with curved margins and pointed apex and base.

Oblong - rectangular, with nearly parallel margins, about 2 times as long as wide.

Oval - widest at the middle of the blade, with curved margins and rounded apex and base.




Rhombi - diamond-shaped, widest at the middle and with straight margins.

Deltoid - triangular, shaped roughly like an equilateral triangle.

Oblanceolate - reverse lanceolate, widest above the middle of the blade.

Spatulate - spoon-shaped, basically oblanceolate, but with a narrow (attenuate) base.

Obovate - reverse ovate, widest above the middle of the blade.

Orbicular - circular, with rounded sides.


Scale-like - reduced in size, flat and sharp-pointed or blunt.

Subulate - awl-shaped, narrow and pointed, rounded in cross section.

Acicular - needle-like, very narrow and pointed, rounded in cross section.

Runcinate - oblanceolate with lacerate margins.

Fan-shaped - a leaf with the blade spreading out in a semi-circle.

Peltate - a leaf with the petiole attached near the centre of the undersurface of the blade.


Cordate - heart-shaped, with a pointed apex and 2 rounded basal lobes.

Obcordate - reverse heart-shaped, with a narrow base and 2 rounded apical lobes.

Reniform - kidney-shaped, with a broad rounded apex and 2 rounded basal lobes.


Sagittate - a leaf with pointed basal lobes directed downwards or inwards.

Hastate - a leaf with pointed basal lobes divergent or directed outwards.

Auriculate - a leaf with small rounded (ear-like) lobes at the base.

Lyrate - lyre-shaped, basically oblanceolate, with 2 or > pairs of smaller lower lobes.

Panduriform - fiddle-shaped, basically oblanceolate, with 2 small lower lobes.


© Tom Lebsack 2018