Seed Leaves and True Leaves: an ID

Cup and Saucer seed leaves and first set of ferny true leaves

Seed leaves are the first leaves to emerge and typically do not resemble the adult foliage. They are actually part of the seed, serving as an initial food source for the sprouted seed until it has matured enough to photosynthesize food on its own. Think of a germinating bean: the leaves resemble the shape of the bean, whereas the adult leaves are usually heart-shaped and much larger. There is no need to remove seed leaves, as the plant will shed them once they are no longer needed, though they may shrivel up and remain on the plant for a bit.

True leaves are produced by the seedling as it uses the energy reserves provided by the seed leaves. Once they have grown enough in size and quantity, these leaves absorb sunlight to perform photosynthesis, the productions of sugars, nourishing the plant. Gardeners recommend waiting to transplant your seedlings until they have 2 sets of true leaves to give them the best start.

Spanish Flag seed leaves and heart shaped true leaves


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