Virtual Museum of Canada
Jardin botanique de Montréal 
Centre for Forest Research

Reading the tree’s history

Leaf scars are just that: scars left when a leaf drops off. But before the leaf falls, the tree must be sure to block the unwanted opening with a cork plug. Otherwise, parasites would quickly make their way inside.

In the photo, on the right, you can see leaf stalks attached to a twig from this year. In the centre, you can easily make out three whitish leaf scars, where last year's leaf stalks were located. The dark U-shaped marks are the traces of sap-conducting vessels. On the left, a two-year-old leaf scar is fading into the bark on the branch.

Photo of a butternut's (Juglans cinerea) branch, on which were artificially-coloured in green three leaf stalks, in red three young leaf scars, and in blue one old leaf scar
Juglans cinerea
© Jardin botanique de Montréal (Lise Servant)