Difference Between Simple and Compound Leaves

The difference primarily between simple and compound leaves is that in simple leaves there is a single leaf blade and depression that do not split the leaf blade, whereas, in compound leaves, the depression is deep such that it splits the leaf blades into leaflets. Due to differences in the shape and arrangement in leaves, they can be categorized into simple and compound leaves.

Simple Leaves

  • Some common plants exhibiting simple leaves are Hibiscus, Maples, Oregano, pear plants, Sycamore and many more
  • In simple leaves, the leaf is joint to a stem via petiole with no subdivisions. The true leaf is attached directly to the tree-bud

Compound Leaves

  • Some plants depicting compound leaves are Neem, Rose, Baobab and many more. Here apart from the main leaf, it has several leaflets attached to the stem via the petiole depicting the complete division of the leaf blade or the lamina along with the midvein. Stems which show such arrangement are known as rachis, that is the modified mid-vein
  • Classified into – Pinnately Compound leaves and Palmately Compound leaves.
  • Pinnately Compound leaves – leaflets emerge from both sides of the midrib and are further classified into three pinnate arrangements – unipinnate, bipinnate and tripinnate
  • Unipinnate arrangement – regular arrangement of leaflets through the midrib
  • Bipinnate arrangement – shows the presence of secondary rachis in addition to the regular rachis
  • Tripinnate arrangement – the substitution of the primary rachis in the bipinnate arrangement with bipinnate leaflets
  • Palmately Compound Leaf – leaflets emerge from only one point such as a palm. Furthermore, this arrangement can be classified into – unifoliate, bifoliate, trifoliate, and quadrifoliate.

Difference Between Simple and Compound Leaves

The table below depicts some important differences between Simple Leaves and Compound Leaves

Simple Leaves Compound Leaves
What it means
Leaves in which the leaf blade is undifferentiated into lobes Leaves which show proper differentiation of lamina or leaf blade into leaflets
Leaf arrangement
Acropetal succession Acropetal succession type of arrangement of leaflets is not observed
Single blades Small leaflets having separate leaf blades
Axillary buds
Axil buds are observed Buds are observed in the leaf axil. However, every leaflet does not possess axil
Present at the base of the leaf Present at the base of the leaf, absent in other additional structures
No division Lamina split into more than two leaflets that arise either at the petiole tip or on the side of a rachis
Observed in
Guava, trees of black cherry, black gum trees Neem, Rose, Buckeye, Shame plant

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are compound leaves?

When the lamina of a leaf is divided into multiple leaflets, it is called compound leaves. The incision of the lamina reaches till midrib and divides into multiple leaflets. Some plants depicting compound leaves are Neem, Rose, Baobab and many more.

What are the different types of compound leaves?

The two major types of compound leaves are pinnately compound leaves and palmately compound leaves. The pinnately compound leaves can be further divided into unipinnate, bipinnate and tripinnate. Likewise, palmately can be classified into unifoliate, bifoliate, trifoliate, and quadrifoliate.

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  1. was really helpful.

  2. Muhammad Hanif Haqmal


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