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Leaf Tattoo Designs, Ideas, and Meanings

Richard Hale is a tattoo enthusiast who studies and researches tattoo symbolism, meanings, and history.

The leaf is a popular motif in tattoo design.

The leaf is a popular motif in tattoo design.

Leaves as Life, Death, and Circle of Life Symbols

It is said that a single leaf is an ancient heraldic symbol that represents happiness. However, it can represent so much more than happiness. In fact, the leaf can represent a variety of aspects of one's life as it is a symbol of life. It can also represent death. In the spring, the leaves are born. In the summer, they continue to grow with shades of green. But then in the autumn, they transition to beautiful shades of orange, yellow, burgundy, and red. Eyecatching at first, the leaves then change to a brown color, only to fall to the ground in death.

It commonly represents the cycle of life, because although the leaf dies, life goes on. Although we die as well, life will go on. We all go through cycles in life. Many men and women feel that this design can represent their life and how we all go through different stages. But just as it stands for death, it can also represent rebirth, as they will once again grow back in the spring.

How many of us have our ups and downs, trials, and tribulations? At one point, we're riding high, clear roads ahead. Even so, we travel only to see obstacles in our way, stopping our forward motion. The leaf design can similarly be associated with the constant changes in our lives, reminding us that our journey comes with hard work.


Symbols can range from good to bad. Since each specific leaf has a meaning attached to it, the meanings can vary between specific types. However, overall, it can represent any of the meanings listed below.

  • Life
  • Death
  • Life's cycle
  • Change
  • Rebirth
  • New beginnings
  • Ending
  • Happiness
  • Struggles
  • Trial

Remember, in the end, it represents what you want it to.


Leaf tattoos can be designed in several different ways. It can portray the leaf with a variety of different elements and symbols.

  • It can be portrayed with anything associated with it, such as trees or branches.
  • Some have them as they are in the summer, while others like them in different colors of the autumn season.
  • The design may also contain the leaf falling or blowing in the wind, or attached to a tree or branch.
  • It can be just a single leaf or a group of leaves.
  • It can be designed in several different sizes. Due to this, they can nearly be placed anywhere on the body.
  • Someone that adores the autumn season may especially want to consider such a tattoo. The autumn season, when leaves are changing colors, has a magical feel. Autumn leaves are a symbol of beauty and change.
  • The design can be done in Celtic art or tribal art.
  • One of the most popular kinds is the maple leaf. The maple leaf is the national symbol of Canada. Anyone from Canada may want to consider this. This can be designed to look realistic or as the Canadian symbol. It can represent your pride and heritage for those of you that are from Canada or affiliated with the country.

Variations and Meanings

Specific leaves can hold their own symbolic meaning. Below, you can find the meanings of the oak leaf, olive leaf, and more.

  • Olive: peace, security, victory
  • Oak: strength, wisdom, faith, endurance
  • Lotus: purity, beauty
  • Aspen: respect, courage
  • Bay: healing, care
  • Ivy: friendship, trust
  • Nettle: sting of death
  • Dogwood: faith, hope, rebirth

There are several different ways that men and women make the leaf tattoo their own. Many incorporate symbols and elements that represent their own personality. For example, if you look at the designs in this article, you will notice that they portray a variety of different things. They are designed with butterflies, ladybugs, crosses, flowers, or even fairies.

Important Tips

  • Make sure that you take the time to view all the different designs in this article. Not only will this give you an idea of what is available, but you may also be able to pick up a few ideas and inspiration for your own tattoo.
  • Take the time to do your research. Make sure that you completely understand what your tattoo represents and stands for. You don't want to find out later that it symbolizes something different than what you first thought.

Don't rush to get inked! So many men and women rush to get one impulsively and usually regret this later on down the road. If you are not completely sure, wait it out. Remember, you will sport this for the rest of your life.

Thanks for your visit!

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© 2012 Richard Ricky Hale


Richard Ricky Hale (author) from West Virginia on September 13, 2012:











Thanks again you all for taking the time to read, comment, vote, share, ect. I am always grateful for your feedback. KJ, it wouldn't be you if you didn't:) Hyp, that means a lot and thanks so much. Frank, Bill, Gyspy, Mhatter, glad you liked it. Coming from you all, it means a lot. Teaches, good point. I enjoyed learning that about the dogwood and its religious association. Till, thanks so much. I am glad you enjoy the series, I am truly blessed. Ruby, I didn't mind it when I made money. Now, I do it for free:( Alocsin, many would coming from the West or Southwest. When I lived in AZ, I missed the colors of autumn. Thanks again you all. See you all soon.

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on September 03, 2012:

I never realized how colorful leaf tattoos could become. I naturally assumed they'd all be green. Voting this Up and Beautiful.

Brenda Barnes from America-Broken But Still Beautiful on September 01, 2012:

Every time you publish a new tattoo Hub I think it is the most beautiful. I do again. With Fall arriving soon this is timely and Fall is my favorite season. Thanks for making me anticipate it even more.

Mary Craig from New York on September 01, 2012:

I always know when I come to read one of your hubs I'll enjoy it AND I'll learn. I was surprised to learn about the LEAF TATTOO MEANINGS AND DESIGNS and as always the photos are beautiful.

Voted up, useful, and interesting.

Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on September 01, 2012:

Great tattoos!

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on August 31, 2012:

All very colorful. It will soon be time to rake leaves..YUCK ..Cheers

kjforce from Florida on August 31, 2012:

thelyricwriter...loved the usual you outdid answer me this..does this tattoo fall in autumn..only to have to be redone each spring? you knowI can't also know I have the highest regards for all your endeavors...have a great week-end

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on August 31, 2012:

You know the lyric writer I didn't think a single leaf could be symbolic.. but I guess I was wrong.. thanks for this creative gathering of tats.. I like this style because of its simplicity voted entertaining as always :)

Martin Kloess from San Francisco on August 30, 2012:

Interesting article, thank you.

Dianna Mendez on August 30, 2012:

When I saw the leaf title, I had to look in here. I love leaves. If I were to have one of these, I would choose the dogwood because of what it means. Lovely. All lovely!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on August 30, 2012:

Okay, I like those too; great job as usual. You seem to have converted me during this series.

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