The Q&A Archives: Seed Leaves vs. True Leaves

Question: What does the term "true leaves" mean? Is there such a thing as "fake leaves?" Should I pinch off the first set of leaves on my seedlings?

Answer: The first set of leaves that appear when a seed germinates are called, strangely enough, 'seed leaves'. These serve to nourish the new sprout until it can photosynthesize its own food. A plant's seed leaves usually don't look much like the leaves that emerge later and are considered "true leaves." (Consider a bean plant: the first leaves resemble a bean seed split in half, while the true leaves are heart-shaped.)

There is no need to remove the seed leaves. Once they've done their job, they'll shrivel up on their own.

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