Seedlings

This page has photos of seedlings for native or benign naturalized species to help recognize the "good" plants. See the invasives page for identification of species you may wish to remove. Click to enlarge the image.  Additional (or better!) photos are highly desirable.  Please send them to info@flnps.org with species and photographer clearly identified (and permission clarified if not your own image). 

seedlings
striped maple
Although these seedlings are chlorotic, they show the typical ovate (chordate?) first leaves, while subsequent leaves are lobed. Reddish stems.
Photo by
R Parker
doll's eyes
A. pachypoda or A. rubra; note first leaf is distinctive for genus ID, not much help for species.
Photo by
R Parker
red baneberry
A. pachypoda or A. rubra; note first leaf is distinctive for genus ID, but not much help for species.
Photo by
R Parker
nodding onion
All Allium species germinate with a thin grass-like look. Also see Erythronium, which are a bit larger cross-section.
Photo by
Rosemarie Parker
Allegheny serviceberry
Amelanchier species, not clear which one but several Finger Lakes native Amelanchiers start out looking like this.
Photo by
R Parker
Anaphalis margaritacea seedling
pearly everlasting
Densely hairy leaves, pale green, very small.
Photo by
R Parker
Anemone virginiana cotyledons plus insert of first leaves
Thimbleweed
Note first true leaf.
Photo by
R Parker
Angelica seedlings - highly lobed first leaves with red veins & stems
purple-stemmed angelica
Note the red stems and veins, plus the simple, elongated cotyledons. Seeds are also visible (sow on surface) - germinating just to the right of coin.
Photo by
R Parker
Antennaria parlinii seedlings already show white hairs.
plantain-leaved pussytoes
The seedlings are very tiny but already have white hairs on leaves. They do best in very well draining mix.
Photo by
R. Parker
Aquilegia canadensis seedling
wild columbine
The first true leaf is very distinctive. Cotyledons and early leaves may be reddish (as shown), but often are normal green.
Photo by
R. Parker
Arisaema triphyllum first year.
Jack-in-the-pulpit
Photo by
R. Parker
Aronia melanocarpa seedling.
black chokeberry
Note the pubescence and reddish stem.
Photo by
R. Parker
Wild Ginger
Inset shows more mature seedling with fuzzy leaves. Cotyledons are not fuzzy and are more pointed than true leaves.
Photo by
R Parker
Asclepias incarnata seedlings in flat
Swamp Milkweed
First leaves are narrow compared with A. tuberosa & A. syriaca. Note reddish coloration on stem and cotyledons.
Photo by
R. Parker
Betula alleghaniensis seedling
yellow birch
Hairs are visible on leaf top, shiny surface is real.
Photo by
R. Parker
black birch
Note pointed buds and spotted bark. Early seedlings look essentially like Betula alleghaniensis.
Photo by
R Parker
Caltha palustris seedlings
Marsh Marigold
Note the rounded tip and deep sinus on first true leaves. Subsequent leaves are rounder & flatter.
Photo by
R Parker
Harebells
Young plants, whether seedling or offshoot, lack the wider basal leaf seen in larger plants. All campanula cotyledons are very small.
Photo by
R Parker
grasslike Carex seedlings
bottlebrush sedge
Just after germinating.
Photo by
R. Parker
Carex lurida seedlings
sallow sedge
Horrible focus, but note that the seedlings have multiple leaves pretty quickly.
Photo by
R. Parker
seedling Carpinus
musclewood
First leaves already show distinctive shape and veining.
Photo by
R. Parker
Ceanothus americanus seedling
New Jersey tea
The first true leaf shows strong veining and irregular edge.
Photo by
R. Parker
hackberry
Note the notch in the cotyledons. This one was far from a mature tree, but underneath a good bird perch.
Photo by
R Parker
Cephalanthus occidentalis seedlings
buttonbush
Note how small they are and the coppery color.
Photo by
R. Parker
Chelone glabra first year.
White Turtlehead
The leaves don't look distinct at first.
Photo by
R. Parker
still small at one year
pasture thistle
Still small at nearly 1 year. A true biennial, it will grow significantly, flower, and self-sow in the 2nd year.
Photo by
R. Parker
Broad-Leaved Spring-Beauty
Red stems!
Photo by
R Parker
Collinsonia canadensis seedling
horse balm
Notice coarse veining and scalloped-serrated edges.
Photo by
R. Parker
Cornus florida seedling
flowering dogwood
Notice the whitish hairs showing at the base of the leaf.
Photo by
R. Parker
Cornus sericea seedling
red-osier dogwood
Cornus seedlings look very similar. Note red stem.
Photo by
R. Parker
Bulblet Fern
Not really a seedling, but the result of a fallen "bulblet". Very tiny but red stalk is distinctive.
Photo by
R Parker
Squirrel corn
Blurry, but the color is true.
Photo by
R Parker
Panicum clandestinum
The wide, hairy leaf with visible veins is easy to recognize.
Photo by
R Parker
Diervilla lonicera seedling
northern bush honeysuckle
Unfortunately, the seedlings are not very distinctive.
Photo by
R. Parker
Yellow Mandarin
Note reddish stem in side view on left. This plant is probably 3yr but still small.
Photo by
R Parker
evergreen wood fern
The teeny fringe in center is the first sign of the new asexual form (i.e. "normal fern"). It can take a year to reach this point, although the sexual forms will show up fairly quickly (note flattened green gametophytes below the moss).
Photo by
R Parker
Marginal Wood Fern
The teeny fringe in center is the first sign of the new asexual form (i.e. "normal fern"). It can take a year to reach this point, although the sexual forms (note flattened green gametophytes below the moss) will show up fairly quickly.
Photo by
R Parker
Echinocystis lobata seedling
wild cucumber
By the time the compound leaf is showing, you can see distinct "clasping" around the stem. Stems can be reddish.
Photo by
R. Parker
prairie wild rye
First sighting is a slender bronze-burgundy wisp. After a few inches the blue tinge of a mature plant MAY be visible.
Photo by
R Parker
riverbank wild rye
It's hard to ID grass seedlings. Look for red coloring near the crown.
Photo by
Krissy Boys
Virginia wild rye
Purplish initially, note green true leaf.
Photo by
R Parker
yellow trout-lily
Erythronium species all start like thin wires with the seed on top. Very similar to Alliums.
Photo by
Rosemarie Parker
Eupatorium sessilifolium seedling
upland thoroughwort
The arrow indicates the first sign of the red color that develops in many young plants. The opposite leaves have no petiole.
Photo by
R. Parker
Eurybia divaricata seedling
White Wood Aster
The first true leaves are already showing the heart shaped leaves and teeth.
Photo by
R. Parker
Eutrochium maculatum seedling
Spotted Joe-Pye Weed
The darker color of new leaves helps, along with very definite teeth.
Photo by
R. Parker
Gentiana andrewsii seedlings
Prairie Bottle Gentian
Gentian seedlings are extremely tiny and easily disrupted by too-strong water spray.
Photo by
R. Parker
stiff gentian
These are spring 2nd year. First year are really, really tiny! (Pearlite gives scale here.)
Photo by
R Parker
Porteranthus-trifoliatus (Gilenia trifolia) seedlings
bowman's root
Three-part leaves show up quickly. Note the recently germinated plants in the foreground.
Photo by
R. Parker
Helianthus decapetalus seedling
Ten-Rayed Sunflower
Narrow hairy leaves.
Photo by
R. Parker
Heliopsis helianthoides seedling
False Sunflower
Note serrated edges and reddish stems.
Photo by
R. Parker
Sharp-Lobed Hepatica
Hepatica can take 1-2 yr to germinate, so moss and weeds are common. Hepatica has bluish tinge, reddish stem. Violas show true leaves faster!
Photo by
R Parker
Hypericum ellipticum seedling
pale St. John’s wort
True leaves have that "Hypericum look."
Photo by
R. Parker
Orange Jewelweed,
Light green leaves on fat stalks. Both cotyledons and first real leaves shown.
Photo by
Jennifer Koslow, Eastern Kentucky University
Twinleaf
Smallest seedlings do not have typical leaf shape, but still distinctive. See top center and bottom right edge of main cluster.
Photo by
R Parker
Liatris aspera seedling
blazing star
Liatris have a very distinctive long narrow first leaf (see arrow for small one.) This photo is of Liatris aspera, NOT native to NY state.
Photo by
R. Parker
Magnolia acuminata seedling
cucumber magnolia
The first leaf does not really show the width and shine of mature leaves.
Photo by
R. Parker
Maianthemum racemosum seedling
False Solomon's Seal
The first leaf is "fatter" than mature leaves. It can take multiple years to germinate.
Photo by
R. Parker
Virginia Bluebells
First leaves are more pointed and more bluish (as are the cotyledons) than those of year old plants. Both are in this photo.
Photo by
R Parker
Wild Bergamot, Bee Balm
Cotyledons - Fuzzy and purplish tinge help with ID. Perlite gives a sense of the size - very small.
Photo by
R Parker
garden forget-me-not
Note the fuzzy leaves on this aggressive self-sowing naturalized plant. Compare to Rudbeckia sp.
Photo by
S Navie, Univ Queensland, AU
Oclemina accuminata seedling
whorled wood aster
The whorled arrangement is not seen in seedlings, but the rough serration is there. (Color = chlorotic, not true colof)
Photo by
R. Parker
Parthenium integrifolium seedlings
wild quinine
Note the changes in leaves as the seedling grows. First true leaves are different than subsequent.
Photo by
R. Parker
Pycnanthemum virginianum
Virginia mountain mint
Already showing the narrow pointed leaves of mature plants.
Photo by
R. Parker
rose shell azalea
Small seedlings, or stoloniferous offshoots like these are commonly seen where deer keep mature plants trimmed.
Photo by
R Parker
Sambuccus canadensis seedling
American elderberry
Reddish stems visible in upper left. A better photo would be appreciated!
Photo by
R. Parker
Bloodroot
This distinctive leaf is usually seen by the second spring after sowing. First year underground growth is shown in right corner.
Photo by
R Parker
Pitcher Plant
Seedlings in half sphagnum, half sand, with dime for scale. Note seeds still on some cotyledons, and the start of an actual pitcher in inset.
Photo by
Rosemarie Parker
Scrophularia lanceolata seedlings
lance-leaved figwort
Stem is not red; teeth and veining prominent.
Photo by
R. Parker
Scrophularia marilandica seedlings
Figwort
Note broad leaf base and pointed tip.
Photo by
R. Parker
Sisyrinchium montanum seedlings
mountain blue eyed grass
The iris family is very clearly seen by looking at the base of the leaves. Any Sisyrinchium will look the same at this stage.
Photo by
R. Parker
Solidago arguta seedlings
Sharp-Toothed Goldenrod
Looks very similar to S. flexicaulis at this stagae.
Photo by
R. Parker
Solidago bicolor seedlings
Silverrod
Not very distinctive, but typical Asteracaea.
Photo by
R. Parker
Solidago caesia older seedlings
Blue-Stemmed Goldenrod
A couple of inches tall, but showing mature features. Photo of younger seedlings would be appreciated.
Photo by
R. Parker
Solidago flexicaulis seedlings
Zig-Zag Goldenrod
The first true leaves already have long petioles and show the wide ovate shape of mature leaves.
Photo by
R. Parker
Solidago nemoralis seedlings
Old-Field Goldenrod
Looks like a goldenrod.
Photo by
R. Parker
Solidago ulmifolia seedlings
elm-leaved goldenrod
Wide leaves and heavily toothed leaves, but still not distinctive.
Photo by
R. Parker
Spiraea tomentosa seedlings
steeplebush
The leaves are distinctive for Spiraea, but hard to tell from S. alba at this size.
Photo by
R. Parker
wood poppy
Distinctive leaves even when young. A very prolific self-sower in moist woods. Non-native in NY.
Photo by
R Parker
Smooth Blue Aster
Thick, bluish leaves distinguish S. laeve even when young. The one on the left is likely 1-2 yrs.
Photo by
R Parker
Symphyotrichum lowrieanum seedlings
Lowrie's Aster
The heart shape is starting to show in the second true leaves.
Photo by
R. Parker
Symphyotrichum novae-angliae seedlings
New England aster
Most Symphyotrichum look the same as cotyledons, but after a few true leaves the fuzziness, rounded tips, and clasping stems can be seen.
Photo by
R Parker
Symphyotrichum undulatum seedlings
wavy leaved aster
The true leaves are wider than many asters, and a close look shows widening or even actual clasping leaf stems.
Photo by
R. Parker
Symphyotrichum urophyllum seedling
arrow-leaved aster
The first true leaves already have long petioles and are starting to show the arrow shape of mature basal leaves.
Photo by
R. Parker
White Trillium
First year growth is underground, then cotyledon (12 months), first true leaf (24 mo). Typical 3-lobed leaf after roughly 36 months.
Photo by
R Parker
Verbena hastata seedlings
Blue Vervain
First leaves are starting to show rough serration.
Photo by
R. Parker
Vernonia species seedlings
New York ironweed
Not terribly distinctive until several true leaves form.
Photo by
R. Parker
Golden Alexanders
Cotyledons are long and pointed, and first leaves are simple, not lobed as in the adult. The serration helps with ID.
Photo by
R Parker