Simple Leaves vs. Compound Leaves

Key difference

The major difference between simple leaves and compound leaves is that  simple leaves have only one leaf blade having single incision which is not deep enough to divide the leaf blade while in case of compound leaves, leaf blades are divided into many leaflets due to the very deep incision.

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Simple Leaves vs. Compound Leaves

Plants are an important part of our environment. They are necessary for the survival of life on our planet. The key importance of plants is due to their oxygen production which is mandatory for life. So one should know deeply about plants. Leaves are the part of the plant which carries out photosynthesis and stores food and water. Each leaf has three parts, i.e., leaf blade, petiole, and stipule. Due to different external environmental stresses and selection pressures, leaves assume various shapes in order to adapt to the environment. Broadly, leaves can be classified into two major types, i.e., simple leaves and compound leaves. Both have many differences in them. Simple leaves are those types of leaves in which lamina or leaf blade is not divided, and the incision is not deep. While compound leaves are those types of leaves in which leaf blade or lamina is divided into many leaflets by deep incision. Simple leaves exist in acropetal succession arrangement while in case of compound leaves, leaflets do not exist in acropetal succession arrangement.

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Simple leaves have only one leaf blade or lamina while compound leaves have many tiny and separated leaf blades which are known as leaflets. Simple leaves have axillary buds. Axil is a specific point where petiole is attached with the stem. Simple leaves have buds at that point. In compound leaves, the individual leaflets do not have axils. The whole leaf has an axil and bud is present in the axil of the whole compound leaf. Simple leaves are not further divided into subtypes. Compound leaves have many different forms but broadly speaking, they are divided into two types, i.e.,
pinnately compound leaves and palmately compound leaves. The edges or margins of a simple type of
leaf can be parted, smooth, lobed or jagged. On the other hand, the margins of leaflets of a compound leaf may be of all these types, i.e., jagged, parted, smooth or lobed. Examples of simple leaves can be given as mangoes, guavas and numerous types of oaks. Examples of compound leaves can be given as Neem, rose, Baobab and desert cotton, etc.

Comparison Chart

Basis Simple leaves Compound leaves
Definition A simple leaf is a type of leaf which is not further
divided into leaflets. It has a single lamina. They do not have a deep
incision.
They are the type of leaves in which lamina is
divided into many leaflets by deep incision.
Arrangement Leaves are arranged in acropetal succession. Their leaflets or leaves are not arranged in
acropetal succession.
Edges or margins The edges or margins of leaves are parted, smooth,
jagged or lobed.
The margins of leaflets may be smooth, jagged,
parted, lobed or rolled.
Subtypes They are not further divided into subtypes They are of different forms but broadly speaking
they are divided into two types, i.e., pinnately
compound leaves and palmately compound leaves.
Leaf blade They contain single lamina or leaf blade. They have many tiny leaf blades which are separated.
They are termed as leaflets.
Presence of bud Each leaf has bud which is located at the meeting
point of stem and petiole. (Axil)
Each leaflet does not have bud. Buds are present for
the whole leaf at axilla.
Attachment A simple leaf is joined with a twig by petiole or
its stem.
They are attached with the middle vein and have their own stalks.
Examples Their examples can be given as guava, maple, sweet
gum, sycamore, mangoes and different
types of oaks.
Their examples can be given as neem, Baobab, dessert cotton and rose, etc.
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What are Simple Leaves?

Simple leaves are the types of leaves which have a single leaf blade or lamina. They are joined with twig by petiole or its stem. They do not have deep incisions that may divide them in leaflets. Axilla is the point where the stem is joined by a petiole. Simple leaves always have a bud at this point which is known as an axillary bud. Simple leaves are not further subdivided into types. The margins of their leaves may be rolled, smooth, jagged, lobed or parted. The leaves are arranged in a fashion of acropetal succession. Their examples can be given as sweet gum,
guavas, mangoes, sycamore and different types of oaks.

What are compound leaves?

Compound leaves are the types of leaves which are further divided into leaflets because of very deep incisions. The stem on which they are arranged is termed as rachis. It is, in fact, a modified
mid-vein. Broadly speaking, compound leaves are classified into two types, i.e., pinnately compound leaves and palmately compound leaves.

In the pinnately arranged leaves, the leaf is divided into many leaflets which may be even or odd in number. On the basis of pinnation, the pinnately compound leaves are further subdivided into three types, i.e., unipinnate, bipinnate and tripinnate. In the unipinnate type, leaflets are regularly arranged on rachis. In the bipinnate type, leaflets are arranged on a secondary axis or rachis while in the tripinnate type, a bipinnate type replaces every single leaflet. In palmately compound leaves, leaflets emerge from a single point on petiole. They are named so because, in these leaves, the arrangement of leaflets resembles with the fingers of the hand.

Key differences

  1. Simple leaves have single undivided lead blade while compound leaves have a leaf blade which is further divided into many leaflets by deep incisions.
  2. In simple leaves, leaf blades are arranged in acropetal succession while in compound leaves, leaflets or leaves themselves are not arranged in this fashion.
  3. In simple leaves, a bud is present at the point of axil. In the case of compound leaves, the bud is not present for an individual leaflet.
    Bud is present on the axil point of the leaf.
  4. A simple leaf is not further divided into type while compound leaves are subdivided according to the arrangement of leaflets.
  5. Examples of simple leaves are mangoes, sweet gums, oaks, and guavas while those of compound leaves are a rose,
    Baobab, desert cotton, and neem.

Conclusion

Simple leaves and compound leaves are two main types of leaves of plants. Biology students must know the differences between them to have a grip over their subject. Common persons also are aware of the types of leaves. In the above article, we learned the clear differences between simple leaves and compound leaves.

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