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Compound Leaves

Leaves may also have more than one blade attached to a petiole. The separate, smaller blades are called “leaflets”, and there may just be just a few, or many, depending on the kind of plant. The leaflets are attached to a central stalk called the rachis. How the leaflets are arranged is an important plant identification characteristic. The two most common patterns mimic the venation patterns of simple leaves, and are called palmate-compound (as in Schefflera or Octopus tree, Figure 26, and in Water Chestnut Tree, Figure 27), or pinnate-compound (as in Golden Shower Tree, Figure 28, and in African Tulip Tree, Figure 29).

Come to the World Botanical Gardens and see examples of all of these and more with one of our fun and exciting garden tours!

Dr. Lanny Neel, Garden Director Emeritus, World Botanical Gardens

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