Potty Gardening Club: Leaves

29/04/202009:0923/04/2020 09:42Leave a Comment

Hello again Potty Gardeners and welcome to our second week of the Potty Gardening Club. This week we are looking at leaves.

Leaves provide food for many animals, including lots of different kinds of insects, as we discovered last week. But plants are not as defenseless as you may think. In fact, leaves are amazing things in several different ways. 

Leaves are an important part of a plant. It’s where part of making food for the plant happens, by using sunlight to turn carbon dioxide into sugars the plant needs for energy. This is called photosynthesis.

All plant leaves do the same job, but plant leaves can look completely different from one another.  Leaves on the shaded side of a plant could be a different colour, or be smaller, than those on the sunny side of the plant .

Some leaves look and feel waxy. These are tough leaves able to stand both the heat of summer and the cold of winter. The waxiness also makes them tough and nasty to eat to anything that may try.  Some leaves defend themselves by being hairy or prickly. Others sting or are poisonous.

Some leaves such as lettuce and cabbage are good to eat and attractive to animals, such as insects looking for a meal 

With trees, there are two different groups: broad leaves and narrow leaves. Broad leaves are the kinds you’d find on deciduous trees. That means they lose the leaves in Autumn.  They are wide leaves showing veins or lines on the back. Coniferous trees have narrow leaves, sometimes like needles, such as those on pine trees. These are much thinner and have fewer veins. 

Here are some pictures of different leaves I can find in my garden.

I found waxy leaves, hairy leaves and leaves on a Coniferous tree. Can you tell which is which?                               

Why don’t you have a go and see what types of leaves you can find? They can be leaves growing on a plant in your house or a leaf in your garden,  but they must be growing on the plant or tree. Identify it if you can – you can try using a mobile app such as ‘Seek’ if you’re struggling.

You can use this sheet to help identify some common leaves – you can also have a go at colouring it in! You could also draw your own if your leaf is not shown.

Please take care when handling any plants, especially if you have any allergies and look out for thorns and sharp twigs. Wear gardening gloves if you have them and always wash your hands after handling any leaves.

Happy Hunting!

You can see everything in our Potty Gardening Club series here.

Written by Rob Gagliano, Casual Learning Development Leader and Natural Science Collections Volunteer

Written by museumvolunteers - Modified by Glenn Roadley (Curator, Natural Sciences)

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