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Kids and kids at heart can enjoy making and sharing a digital leaf press

Here’s a leaf you may find on your adventure. This beautiful collection of leaves on the branch of a blackjack oak (Quercus marilandica) shows how the red coloration is revealed as the sugars of the green chlorophyll is absorbed into the tree as it prepares for the cold of winter.

Photo courtesy: Larry Stritch

Posted by: Tiffany Holloway, Office of Communication, U.S. Forest Service

This time of year brings back fond childhood memories. Fall’s increasing chill and leaf-covered ground take me back to elementary school, where nature and the changing seasons served as learning material. A favorite lesson I learned was how to create a book of pressed leaves.
Under our teacher’s guidance, my classmates and I would bundle up in our coats and mittens, and race out to collect different types of leaves. Back in the classroom, we began the fun process of preserving some of the beauty from that fall season.
Now, working at the U.S. Forest Service, I have an even greater appreciation for the value and beauty of leaves and trees. I’d like to encourage children, and adults with a youthful love of nature, to take advantage of today’s technology and make a digital leaf press of their own. Things you will need: permission from your parent/guardian, a notepad and pencil, camera, book or website about trees, and a digital photo album site, such as Flickr, Tumblr, or Instagram.

  • Go outside with your camera, notepad and pencil.

  • Find a tree and take a photo of it.

  • Now, take a photo of a leaf.

  • Write down a description of the tree so that you can look up what type of tree it is later. Also jot down a brief description
    of your location, such as the national forest you’re visiting or neighborhood you’re in.

  • Once you have at least eight photos, use your book or website to identify the leaves. Some of the common leaves you might find are oak, hickory, aspen, yellow-poplar, dogwood, beech, sourwood and black tupelo.

  • Upload the photos with names and locations to your digital photo album.


Upload the photos with names and locations to your digital photo album. With fall color at its best, finding an abundance of pretty leaves for your digital leaf press will be easy. Visiting your national forests can be an enjoyable activity for one and all. Once you’ve created your new 2016 digital leaf press, the final and most important step is to share it with your friends and families so they can learn and enjoy great memories from fall 2016 too! Have fun!

With fall color at its best, finding an abundance of pretty leaves for your digital leaf press will be easy. Visiting your national forests can be an enjoyable activity for one and all. This photo comes from the Ottawa National Forest

Photo courtesy: Susan Trull