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Why Prep?

Leave it to Leon
(a page all about leaves)

April 9, 2023 the wind delivered this leaf to my doorstep, 
thus inspiring me to make this page.
Leave it to Leon to see a sign where there might have been
mere coincidence.  Or was it?  I don't see any trees in this area
that have those kind of leaves.

Table of Contents

Item Description
Introduction Just scroll down
Leaf definition & etymology Just scroll down
Leaf Symbolism All over the world various leaves had various meanings to the local peoples.
Leaf Superstitions Catch a falling leaf and have good health...
And other superstitions...
Leaf Figurative Language It should be no surprise that with the abundance of leaves in the world that there should be figurative language and idiomatic expressions using leaves.
Leaves in prophecy Yes.  Leaves are a part of prophecy.
Leaves in mythology Why are some leaves evergreen?
Why do some leaves fall in the Fall?
Why do some leaves change color in the Fall?
Leaf Fun Facts Biggest leaf in the world.
Smallest leaf in the world.
Most poisonous leaf in the world.
Leaves in art hopefully coming soon.



One might think it strange to dedicate a whole page just to leaves.  But, leaves are a fascinating subject, including how leaves have affected our language (the English Language, to be specific).  Let's start with the etymology and definition of the word "leaf".

Definition & Etymology

Definition of "leaf":  (1)  the part of a plant at the extremities of the branches, which is usually green (or greenish), and where the majority of photosynthesis takes place.  (2)  a piece of paper.  (3)  a thin sheet of metal.

Source:  Me, being a native speaker of the English language.

Etymology:  the word "leaf" probably originated from Old Norse lyf, which connotated medicinal herbs (usually in the form of a leaf).  Over time the world "leaf" developed the polysemy of both the part of the plant, as well as a piece of paper.  Later, the word "leaf" came to be used for a very thin sheet of metal.

*  There are cognates in many languages...

Proto-Germanic:  lauba
Saxon:  lof
Old Norse:  lauf
Dutch:  loof
High German:  loub
German:  laub
Gothic:  laufs
Old Irish:  luib
Albanian:  labe
Russian:  lub
Old Norse:  lyf
Old English:  lybb
Proto-Indo-European (PIE):  leub

Source:  Online Etymology Dictionary.

NOTE:  Difference between "page" and "leaf":  a page is one side of the sheet of paper, while a leaf is the whole sheet of paper (both sides).  Source.


Leaf Symbolism

Leaf Symbol of... Source
Olive leaf;
 Olive branch

Clipart from clipart-library.com

Peace and security This stems from (pun intended) the time when Noah was on his ark after 40 days and 40 nights, and he sent out a dove to see if there was any dry land nearby.  The dove came back with an olive leaf in its beak.  Therefore, both the dove and the olive leaf became symbols of peace on Earth.  (Genesis 8:11)
Fresh leaf Societal prosperity Hebrew symbolism.
Faded leaf Societal decay Hebrew symbolism.
Palm leaves / 
 Palm branch

Clipart from clipart-library.com

triumph Mesopotamian culture.

Bitterness -

Wormwood is a bitter herb.  It is used metaphorically to signify bitter emotions.

Source:  Wikipedia.
Oak leaf

Clipart from clipart-library.com

Strength; stability; nobility Source:  Symbols Project.
Maple Leaf

Canada The maple leaf was chosen as the symbol for Canada, because if its abundance and its great usefulness to the Canadian economy.
Laurel leaves
 (in a crown)

This clipart is adapted from some clipart which I found on clipart-library.com

Victory Originally a tradition in ancient Greece to award the winners with laurel crowns.

Roman Emperors later also wore laurel crowns to signify victory.

Source:  Merriam-Webster's Dictionary

Holly leaves

Clipart from clipart-library.com

- Christmas

- Nature's triumph over winter

- Protection from malevolent fairies

Source:  Trees for Life


Fig leaf Modesty Fig leaves were used to make the first clothing.
(according to the Bible).
Clover leaves

The trinity St. Patrick used the three clover leaves to represent the trinity; Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Four-leaf Clover

Good luck According to Irish tradition, to find a four-leaf clover is very good luck.

Spring = Birth & Youth
Summer = Adulthood; Prime of life
Autumn = One's elder years
Winter = Death
The leaves that change colors and fall to the ground in autumn are symbols of one's later years; also, symbolic of the harvest or enjoying the fruits of one's labors. Chinese culture.

Of the Peepal (or Bodhi) Tree

Roots of the tree = Brahma
Trunk of the tree = Vishnu
Leaves of a tree tree = Shiva

Since leaves of trees are associated with Lord Shiva, anything that is done with leaves is also done with prayer to Lord Shiva. Indian culture.

Source:  Earthday.org.


Leaf Superstitions

Superstition Source(s)
All Around the World:

Burn sage leaves to clear the area of negative energy.

Tiny Rituals.
Appalachian Superstition:

Catch a falling leaf on the fist day of Fall and you'll have good health all winter, (and according to some sources even for the next 364 days).

Anita Sanchez.


Greek Superstition???

Two ways of going about this superstition...
(1)  Write your worries on a bay leaf (laurel leaf) and burn it, watching your worries "float away" in the smoke to rid yourself of worry.
(2)  Write your affirmation on a bay leaf (laurel leaf) and burn it, sending out mental prayers / affirmations / vibes to attract what you want.

The website doesn't say where these superstitions come from, but I guessing Greece, because the laurel tree and laurel leaves were sacred to them.


Hawaiian Superstition:

If you have a hala pepe plant in your garden, the more leaves it has the more money you'll have.  That's why it is nicknamed "the money plant".

Hawai'i Magazine.
Irish Superstition:

Find a four-leaf clover and have good luck.

Anciently, it was thought to bring love.

And in some traditions to hold one in one's hand enables one to see fairies.

Common knowledge.



Figurative Language

Idiomatic Expression Type of Figure of Speech Meaning
Make like a tree and leave.

(not nice to say)

simile;  pun Simile - "like a tree"  (because trees have leaves).

Pun - because the verb to leave is similar to the plural of leaf.

Turn over a new leaf. metaphor "To turn over a new leaf" is to start a new habit, or a whole new life style.
Loose leaf notebook metaphor Leaf was the original word for paper and this is probably true because before paper was invented, people wrote on leaves.
Gold leaf metaphor Metallic leaf is called thusly because it is very thin and pliable, like a leaf.
To rest on one's laurels. metonymy Laurel leaves symbolized success and victory.  Thus, to "rest" on one's laurels is to be satisfied with one's success and do nothing to achieve further success.
Source:  Merriam-Webster's.


Leaves in Prophecy

Prophet Prophecy
The Sybil (from ancient Greece) I know of no prophecy concerning leaves, but the prophetess was said to write her prophecies on oak leaves.
Tea leaf reader (Tasseomancer) It is said that some can read the tea leaves left at the bottom of the tea cup when done drinking tea.
John "The Revelator"
 (who wrote the Apocalypse / Revelation)
He saw in vision that there will be a "new Earth".
And on this new Earth there will be no night.
And, there will be a crystal-clear river, with the Tree of Life on each side, and it will bear 12 different fruits, and the leaves thereof will be for healing.

Revelation 22:1-2

Ancient Indian Sages (using palm leaves) Legend has it that some ancient Indian sages wrote down everyone's life path / prophecy on palm leaves.  And these are stored in libraries around India.

Source:  MyPalmLeaf


Leaves in Mythology

Myth Origin / Title Myth in brief
Greek Mythology
Apollo and Daphne
and the Laurel Leaves
Apollo insulted Eros, calling him a boy, and telling him that a boy shouldn't have a weapon (such as Eros' bow).

I didn't know this, but apparently Eros has two kinds of arrows;  one type that make people fall in love, and another type that makes people fall out of love or have a distaste for love.

So, to get even with Apollo for his cruel words, he shot Apollo with the love arrow and shot Daphne with his distaste arrow.

Apollo immediately fell in love with Daphne, but Daphne didn't want anything to do with him.  She prayed for escape from Apollo's advances and she was turned into a laurel tree.

That's why laurel leaves were used at the Olympic games, because of her success to avoid Apollo's advances.


Celtic Mythology
The Holly and the Oak
The Holly tree ruled 6 months of the year (from winter solstice to summer solstice).  The Oak tree ruled 6 months of the year from summer solstice to winter solstice.

That's why the Holly leaves are used as decoration at winter time.

Mongolian Mythology
The origin of the Evergreen leaves
When there was a drought, the raven flew to get some of gods' water at the top of the highest mountain (which bestows eternal life) and bring it to the humans.  However, on the return journey, the raven got scared by an owl that tried to catch him and he opened his beak, spilling all the water on the trees below.  That's how some trees became evergreens, their leaves staying green all year long.


Algonquin Mythology
Why leaves turn red in the Fall.
Once there was a Great Bear (now known as Ursa Major) that lived on Earth terrorizing all the people.

Finally, the people had had enough.  Several tribes got together a huge hunting party to hunt down and kill the bear.  The bear ran, but eventually the one of the arrows actually injured the bear.

The bear then jumped into the sky.  And still "runs" across the sky.  In the Fall, the blood that spills out of the Bear's side turns the leaves red.

Source:  Farmer's Almanac.

Lakota Mythology
Why leaves fall in the Fall.
When the Earth was still young, all the plants and animals were enjoying the summer.  Then, the autumn came.  It started to get colder and colder.  The grass and shrubs began to get scared, because they couldn't handle the cold.  So, the Creator, made it so that the trees would drop their leaves to provide a warm blanket for the roots of the grass and shrubs.

In exchange for this magnanimous gift from the trees, the Creator allowed the trees a very beautiful array to display just before the dropping of the leaves.

Source:  First People.


Leaf Fun Facts

# Title Fact
1 The plant with the BIGGEST leaves Victoria Boliviana Giant Lily Pad is the largest undivided leaf in the world, measuring 3.2 meters across, and covering an area of 7.55 m2.

Source:  Guiness World Records.

2 The plant with the smallest leaves "The smallest leaf in the world is believed to belong to the species of moss called "Fissidens minutulus". These leaves are only 0.3 millimeters in length, which is about one-tenth the size of a grain of salt. They are so small that they are often difficult to see with the naked eye."

Source:  AI Bot on Quora.

3 The most poisonous leaf in the world I don't know.  But, the most poisonous plant in North America is Water Hemlock, with Poison Hemlock in a close second.

Now these photos that I've taken appear to be wild carrot, but the hemlock looks very similar so unless you know exactly how to identify the wild carrot and the hemlock, I would stay away!









Parents of



Winter Solstice


New Years

Chinese Lunar
New Year



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"Love is all there is;  Everything else is entropy." (Leon)

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