ID: Serated-leafed seedling

ID: Serated-leafed seedling

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A seedling has popped up in one of my planters (acid soil; Toronto, Ontario).

What is it?

June 4, 2020:

June 20, 2020:

An extension of com.prehensible's comment -- your sapling could be a bur oak. It is older than the seedling pictured below, but retains a similar cotyledon. The range of this species includes Ontario.

bur oak seedling
Photo by Todd Dwyer, via Flickr
(please ignore the image artifact -- an effect of resizing)

Your photo appears to show the tree at a stage after the seedling shown above and before the more mature sapling shown here:

bur oak sapling
Photo by John T. Fowler, Alamy Stock Photo

With regard to the seedling being an oak, just gently excavate around the stem - the acorn will still be there to identify. You can do this without hurting the roots.

The hairy stem and leaf pattern remind me of elms. Wikipedia has an example of american elm seedlings which look quite similar to what you have to me:

The Jagged Edge: Serrated Foliage Round Up

We get a lot of people searching plant lust for serrated leaves, and I often wonder, are people seeing some jaw-dropping Melianthus out in the world, and searching for the name? I can see it, because that plant is always love at first sight.

Or are people searching for any of the dramatic saw-toothed foliage possibilities they can get their hands on? I hope that’s it at least some of the time, because it means I have kindred spirits out there. You can never have too many serrated leaves, in my opinion. Here are several that have been occupying my wish list.

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Function of the Leaf

As one of the most important constituents of plants, leaves have several essential functions:


The primary function of the leaf is the conversion of carbon dioxide, water, and UV light into sugar (e.g., glucose) via photosynthesis (shown below). The simple sugars formed via photosynthesis are later processed into various macromolecules (e.g., cellulose) required for the formation of the plant cell wall and other structures. Therefore, the leaf must be highly specialized to combine the carbon dioxide, water, and UV light for this process. Carbon dioxide is diffused from the atmosphere through specialized pores, termed stomata, in the outer layer of the leaf. Water is directed to the leaves via the plant’s vascular conducting system, termed the xylem. Leaves are orientated to ensure maximal exposure to sunlight, and are typically thin and flat in shape to allow sunlight to penetrate the leaf to reach the chloroplasts, which are specialized organelles that perform photosynthesis. Once sugar is formed from photosynthesis, the leaves function to transport it down the plant via specialized structures called the phloem, which run in parallel to the xylem. The sugar is typically transported to the roots and shoots of the plant, to support growth.


Transpiration refers to the movement of water through the plant, and subsequent evaporation via the leaves. When the stomata open to accommodate the diffusion of carbon dioxide into the plant for photosynthesis, water flows out. This process also serves to cool the plant via evaporation of the water from the leaf, as well as regulate the plant’s osmotic pressure.


Guttation refers to the excretion of xylem from the edges of leaves and other vascular plants due to increased levels of water in the soil at night, when the stomata are closed. The pressure caused at the roots results in the leakage of water from the xylem out of specialized water glands at the edges of leaves.


Leaves are a primary site of water and energy storage since they provide the site of photosynthesis. Succulents are particularly adept at water storage, as evidenced by the thick leaves. Due to the high levels of nutrients and water, many animal species ingest the leaves of plants as a source of food.


In general, the types of leaf can be divided into six major types, although there are also plants with highly specialized leaves:

Conifer Leaf

Conifer leaves are needle-shaped or in the form of scales. Conifer leaves are typically heavily waxed and highly adapted to colder climates, arranged to dispel snow and resist freezing temperatures. Some examples include Douglas firs and spruce trees. The images below illustrate this type of leaf.

Microphyll Leaf

Microphyll leaves are characterized by a single vein that is unbranched. Although this type of leaf is abundant in the fossil record, few plants exhibit this type of leaf today. Some examples include horsetails and clubmosses. The image below illustrates this type of leaf.

Megaphyll Leaf

Megaphyll leaves are characterized by multiple veins that can be highly branched. Megaphyll leaves are broad and flat, and generally comprise the foliage of most plant species. The image below illustrates this type of leaf.

Angiosperm Leaf

Angiosperm leaves are those found on flowering plants. These leaves are characterized by stipules, a lamina, and a petiole. The illustration below shows an example of an angiosperm leaves.


Fronds are large, divided leaves characteristic of ferns and palms. The blades can be singular or divided into branches. The image below presents an example of a frond.

Sheath Leaf

Sheath leaves are typical of grass species and monocots. Thus, the leaves are long and narrow, with a sheathing surrounding the stem at the base. Moreover, the vein structure is striated and each node contains only one leaf. The image below presents an example of a sheath leaf.

1. The primary function of a leaf is:
A. Water evaporation for cooling
B. Photosynthesis
C. Provide shade to the shoot and root structures of the plant
D. Transpiration

2. Which of the following statements is TRUE regarding guttation:
A. It typically occurs at night.
B. It occurs when the stomata are closed.
C. It results from increased water pressure in the soil.
D. All of the above

Plant Identification: A Practical Approach

Take on the challenge of plant identification and you might feel a little overwhelmed! Any given area can contain hundreds of different species. Plants, especially wildflowers, come in a high diversity of colors, shapes, sizes, textures and even smells.

To effectively identify plants in the field, a simple method based on easily observable and comparable characteristics is required. One such system is "Newcomb's Method" outlined in Newcomb's Wildflower Guide by Lawrence Newcomb. This straightforward approach to plant identification is used in many of Alderleaf's courses.

Newcomb's Method is easy to learn and is based on three easily observed plant parts. Despite being written for primarily the central and northeastern regions of North America, the majority of plants found in North America are included. This plant identification method trains your eye to recognize important plant characteristics. Using Newcomb's Wildflower Guide in conjunction with a local plant book (for cross-referencing) is one of the most effective systems for quickly identifying plants.

Breaking it Down

Identifying plants using Newcomb's Method involves looking at the flower type, the plant/branching type, and the leaf type. This system uses a series of questions to guide you towards species identification. The questions are as follows:

  • Is the flower regular (radially symmetrical - which means symmetrical in any way it can be divided across the center, like a sunflower) (most flowers fall into this category) or is the flower irregular (only symmetrical when divided one way, such as a mint or pea flower) or are the flower parts indistinguishable (too small to see)?
  • If regular, how many petals or similar parts does it have?

For the plant/branching type:

  • Is the plant a wildflower, or a woody shrub or vine?
  • If a wildflower, is it without leaves or if it has leaves, are they all at the base of the plant (basal) or are they arranged singly on the stem (alternate) or are they opposite one another in pairs or whorls (whorled means many leaves coming off in different directions from the same area of the stem, like cleavers)?
  • Are the leaves entire (smooth-edged), or are they toothed, or lobed (split into sections), or divided (separated into leaflets off the same stem)?

Each answer within these categories is assigned a number, which when combined will give you a 3 digit code. This code will bring you to a section of the locator key in Newcomb's Wildflower Guide, which will further guide you in your process of plant identification. The possible answers and associated numbers are as follows:

2. Flowers with 2 regular parts

3. Flowers with 3 regular parts

4. Flowers with 4 regular parts

5. Flowers with 5 regular parts

6. Flowers with 6 regular parts

7. Flowers with 7 or more regular parts

8. Flowers parts indistinguishable

For the plant/branching type:

1. Wildflowers with no apparent leaves

2. Wildflowers with basal leaves only

3. Wildflowers with alternate leaves

4. Wildflowers with opposite or whorled leaves

1. No apparent leaves at all

2. Leaves that are entire (smooth-edged)

3. Leaves that are toothed or lobed

4. Leaves that are divided

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Example of how to use this plant identification method:

Imagine for a moment you are looking at a dandelion (pictured above). Now imagine that this is your first time looking at this plant, you do not know what it is, and you hope to identify it using Newcomb's Method.

We start by looking at the flower. Is the flower regular, irregular, or are the flower parts indistinguishable? And if regular, how many petals or similar parts do we see?

We look at the flower and see that it is radially symmetrical (regular) and has more than 7 regular parts. Our first digit is then the number "7".

Moving forward, we ask is it a shrub or a vine? A shrub is a plant with a woody stem that is permanently above the ground, but at maturity is under about 10 feet high. While a vine is a plant with a long, trailing, climbing, or twining stems over two feet or more.

Our plant is not a woody shrub nor a vine, it is a wildflower.

Next we ask, since it is a wildflower, is it without leaves, or if it has leaves, are they all at the base of the plant, or are they arranged singly on the stem (called alternate), or are they arranged in pairs (opposite) or in circular clusters (whorled)?

The leaves of our plant are found only at the base of the plant (called basal) and not on the flowering stalk. So that gives us a number "2" for this category.

After that, we ask about the type of leaves it has. So are the leaves entire (being smooth, even edged with an unbroken margin)? Or are they toothed or lobed or divided?

We notice that the leaves are long, with jagged teeth along the margin of the leaf - a toothed leaf. This gives us a number "3" for the leaf type category.

So we end up with a code of "723", which takes us into that section of the locator key of Newcomb's Wildflower Guide where a couple more questions are asked/answered that send us to page 362. Now we take a look the species found on this page and we notice the dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is a perfect match. Bingo! We've made a quick, effective identification of this plant!

Additional Thoughts

When using Newcomb's Method, if you are not finding an exact match of your plant, take note of the closest species and the family to which those closest species belong to. Then try looking up those plant families in your local plant guide. This will typically resolve identifications for the small percentage of species not included in Newcomb's Wildflower Guide.

Through practice you will become faster and faster at identifying plants. You will grow your observation skills and begin to see the similarities between species in the same family. Eventually you will be able to identify the family to which an unidentified plant belongs to. This further improves your plant identification skills. Best of luck in your plant identification forays!

Further Resources

To learn more about Newcomb's wildflower identification method, we highly recommend picking up a copy of Newcomb's Wildflower Guide to Plant Identification.

For classes on identifying edible and medicinal plants, check out upcoming Courses at Alderleaf.

About the Author:ਏilip Tkaczyk is a periodic guest teacher at Alderleaf. He also wrote the field guide Tracks & Sign of Reptiles & Amphibians. Learn more aboutਏilip Tkaczyk.

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ID: Serated-leafed seedling - Biology

The Journal of Plant Biology, an official publication of the Korean Society of Plant Biologists, is an international journal devoted to basic researches in biochemistry, cellular biology, development, ecology, genetics, molecular biology, physiology, and systematics of plants.

The Journal publishes original articles, reviews and brief communications detailing significant research contributions to plant science.

Celebrating its 50th year of publication in 2007, the Journal of Plant Biology first appeared in 1958, and was published until 1994 under the title Korean Journal of Botany.

  • International in scope, broad in coverage
  • Details significant research contributions to plant science
  • Devoted to biotechnology, biochemistry and macromolecular structure, cellular and developmental biology, ecology, genetics and genomics, molecular biology, morphology, physiology and taxonomy of plants

Plant Species Biology

In the range of Magnolia stellata, a native rare subtree species, Magnolia kobus, an invasive planted/escaped tree species, can also be found. In order to examine possible natural hybridization between the two species, a reciprocal cross-pollination experiment was conducted. The results suggest that there are no reproductive barriers between the two species and planted/escaped M. kobus near the natural habitat of M. stellata presents a threat through hybridization.

Modular growth and functional heterophylly of the phreatophyte Ziziphus lotus: A trait�sed study


Through a trait-based approach, we identified the modular growth pattern and morpho-functionally distinct leaves (i.e., heterophylly) in the phreatophytic shrub Ziziphus lotus (Rhamnaceae), which promoted a functional differentiation between vegetative and reproductive structures. Both characteristics might contribute to prioritizing the investment of resources of this species, either for growth or reproduction, and could improve the efficiency in uptake and conservation of resources in drylands.

Combined effect of temperature and water stress on seed germination of four Leptocereus spp. (Cactaceae) from Cuban dry forests


Germination of Leptocereus spp. was only obtained at 25°C and germinability and seedling mass were drastically affected by the reduction from 0 MPa to −0.2 MPa. Seeds showed thermoinhibition at 35°C at all water potentials. Low seed recovery occurred at all combined treatments for three species.

Fire damage on seeds of Calliandra parviflora Benth. (Fabaceae), a facultative seeder in a Brazilian flooding savanna


Fire during fruiting or pre-dispersion decreases seed germination from 22 to 3%, but it does not hurt vegetative regeneration or resprout capacity of Calliandra parviflora, which is a facultative seeder. In addition to fire, the sexual C. parviflora reproduction is under another ecological filter, infestation by seed predators larvae. These ecological filters helps to decrease dissemination of C. parviflora, considering its apparent degree of rusticity. These traits enable its potential for post-fire restoration in floodable open grassy savannas, in the ecotone between Cerrado and Pantanal, where C. parviflora may sprout quickly after first post-fire rains.

Confirmation of clonal reproduction of Fagus crenata Blume from Sado Island, Niigata Prefecture


We aimed to confirm using nuclear microsatellite markers whether clonal growth occurs in the Japanese endemic species Fagus crenata by investigating the origin of multi-stemmed clumps found within a high-elevation dwarf beech forest on Sado Island, Niigata Prefecture. We found that all stems collected from three separate clumps belonged to the same clump-specific multi-locus genotypes forming clones up to 3–4 m in diameter. The species capacity for clonal growth is likely to underlie its ability to persist at high-elevation exposed sites at the limits of its ecological range.

The following is a list of the most cited articles based on citations published in the last three years, according to CrossRef.

Taxonomy, anatomy and evolution of physical dormancy in seeds

Effects of salinity and nitrate on production and germination of dimorphic seeds applied both through the mother plant and exogenously during germination in Suaeda salsa


1. Producing more brown seeds and heavy black or brown seeds appears to be an adaptation of Suaeda salsa to saline environments.

2. Producing more black seeds, which tend to remain dormant, should reduce competition for nitrogen and appears to be an adaptation to nitrogen-limited environments for Suaeda salsa.

3. Nitrate provided exogenously or by mother plants to black seeds may act as a signal molecule that enhances the germination of black Suaeda salsa seeds.

The role of the seed coat in adaptation of dimorphic seeds of the euhalophyte Suaeda salsa to salinity


1. A black seed coat may be more protective than a brown seed coat, probably by shielding the embryo from ion toxicity, because of its higher content of waxes.

2. Black seeds can better maintain seed viability than brown seeds for extended periods of times during exposure to hypersaline conditions. This trait of dimorphic seeds can help S. salsa to build up its population in variable saline environments.

ID: Serated-leafed seedling - Biology

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Mycology and Nematology Genetic Diversity and Biology Laboratory: Beltsville, MD

Cedar-apple rust on Eastern red cedar (juniper) is commonly seen in the spring in North America. This fungus also infects apple trees and can cause significant damage if not controlled. You can find links to information resources on plant-associated fungi here, including a link to the U.S. National Fungus Collections Fungal Databases website.

Plant-parasitic Ditylenchus destructor female containing an egg, isolated from iris bulbs. Specimens were sent from France to the APHIS inspection port at Oakland, CA, and intercepted and sent to the USDA Beltsville Nematology Laboratory in October 2003. The nematode is viewed with differential interference microscopy.

Rose downy mildew causes significant losses for growers nearly every year and is most prevalent under warm and very humid conditions. A comprehensive review of this disease can be found here. You can find links to information resources on other plant-associated fungi here, including a link to the U.S. National Fungus Collections Fungal Databases website.

The common and damaging root knot nematode, Meloidogyne incognita, on okra with female and juvenile in root, aerial plant symptoms, second stage juvenile viewed with differential interference microscopy, from a Beltsville, MD USDA ARS BARC field plot.

Peanut smut is a serious disease of peanuts, currently only known in South America. Field losses can be as high as 50% under certain conditions. You can find links to information resources on plant-associated fungi here, including a link to the U.S. National Fungus Collections Fungal Databases website.

Fungal-feeding and possibly plant parasitic nematode, Aphelenchoides bicaudatus from greenhouse strawberries at USDA-ARS BARC viewed under a polarizing microscope.

ID: Serated-leafed seedling - Biology

Thousands of nonnative plants have been introduced into Florida, many of great benefit to us. However, some have become established in expanding populations within native plant communities where they threaten natural processes. The authors identify 117 nonnative plant species that occur in natural areas and provide an extensive literature review of each species. This field guide, designed to assist natural area managers in recognizing nonnative and invasive plant species on lands that they manage will also be of use to naturalists, horticulturists, landscapers, and gardeners. Complimented by over 300 photographs, the descriptions provide plant identification characteristics, plus details on their ecological significance, distribution, and life history.

The second edition of Identification and Biology of Nonnative Plants in Florida's Natural Areas combines information from the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council (FLEPPC) List of Invasive Species and the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Invasive Plants Working Group's Assessment of Nonnative Plants in Florida's Natural Areas. 210 pp.

This is a user-friendly, practical field guide for the classification and identification of soils in central and southern Florida.
Read More.

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Grass Identification Tips

Because the leaves and flowers of grasses can often look similar to one another, being able to identify the unique anatomical features that can be used to differentiate between the various grass genera and species is important. 

A spike or bristle extending off grass seeds found in some grass species

Area at base of leaf that wraps around the stem of grass plant

Membrane or fringe of hairs near the area where the leaf sheath & blade meet (called the collar)

Extension at base of leaf blade present in some grass species adjacent to collar between blade and sheath

Type of flower where flower clusters are attached to stem by branchlets connected to branches coming off the stem

Type of flower where flower clusters are attached to stem by branches connected to the stem

Watch the video: Double serrated leaves cannabis (February 2023).