Woodland Trust

Nature's CalendarNature Detectives

Bluebells are just starting to flower

Oak first leaf. Pete HolmesFirst leaf

First leaf fully open, and recognisably the shape, if not the full size of the adult leaf

  • For compound leaves like ash the leaf must be erect but the pinnate leaflets don’t yet need to be
  • For larch first leaf is the start of needle forming. At the base the needles are still joined in the bud cover but the tops of the needles have separated.
  • Use mature trees (30 years old or more), as young trees show different responses
  • Even trees of the same species, close to each other can behave very differently
  • If in doubt, wait until first leaf happens on 3 trees of the same species

First bud or first leaf - why is it important?