Why do we need to measure leaf surface area?

Mobile platform for measurements in horticulture and floriculture

Why do we need to measure leaf surface area?

Sometimes there is a need to measure leaf surface area. However, before you go further with a search of tools for leaf area measurement and tips how to do it in the most effective manner, the best question to ask is “why?”. Why does leaf surface area play crucial role for plant scientists? There are a couple of key aspects to know.

Importance of leaves and their size

Leaves are a very integral and important part of plants. They serve as the food factory for the plants. Leaf surface area has a direct link with all photosynthetic light harvested which affects the overall plant growth and crop yield. The plant mainly depends on leaves for taking CO2 and water which is important for photosynthesis.

All the significant processes for photosynthesis are happening in leaves. In brief, the most important of them include capturing of light by chloroplasts in leaves and CO2, which depends on stomata in  leaves. The plant leaf area is also associated with the process, which is called evapotranspiration.

The internal plant tissues always have higher pressure. When water exceeds plant requirements it escapes in the form of vapours by plant stomata in leaves. Plants have a mechanism of regulating CO2 intake and water vapour escaping called transpiration. Hence, the leaf area helps to estimate the scope of transpiration process in a plant.

Leave area measurement helps farmers and crop scientists to know how plants are adapting to the environment.

The plants, which grow in drier areas, have smaller leaves. This phenomenon is caused because of the high temperature and active sunlight as well. While the plants, that grow in wet areas with low sunlight availability, have larger leaves. Simultaneously, this impacts on the processes of transpiration, evapotranspiration and photosynthesis.

Therefore leaf area is very vital to understand how plants adapt to different natural ecosystems. The plants with higher evapotranspiration usually need a high amount of water and fertiliser, as the water is only medium to take the food in the plant body.

Need to measure leaf is traditionally caused by the important role of leaves in plant
Since leaves serve as the food factory for the plants, leaf surface area is directly connected with all photosynthetic light harvested and affects the overall plant growth and crop yield

Need to measure leaf area as a core task

 The leaf area measurement is an important parameter for many related fields of research. However, in horticulture, floriculture and ecology knowledge about leaf area plays the most crucial role.

Firstly, need to measure leaf area exists for the research of environmental adaptations. As the leaf surface measurement is an excellent indicator of plant 

In ecology, the leaf area measurement is one of the factors to study the effects caused by deforestation and reforestation. Ecophysiologists use leaf area measurements when researching crops or natural ecosystems.

Crop stress can cause the change in leaf area. As a result, the stress caused by biological and physical factors is determined by leave area. Crop optimisation is another field of active application the knowledge about leaf area.

Finally, leaf area is a must-have information for agricultural practices which aim to improve growing conditions for plants. As a result, leaf area is one of the indicators, which are crucially important for agricultural scientists. For example, agronomists can establish the best agricultural practices based on this knowledge. Similarly, farmers can check if they are creating an ideal environment for their annual and perennial crops.

How to Measure Leaf Area

There are a couple of main methods how to measure surface leaf area for plant. The most popular of them are direct measurements, use of planimeter and leaf area meters.

Direct Measurements

Climate change and increasing temperature day by day making the leaf area studies more important. In the near future there will be more developments in this field.

The latest instruments for measuring the leaf area have allowed the growers to monitor their fruit orchards, cereal crops in the changing environment. Leaf area measuring instruments also had utmost importance in recognising the plant responses to the environment and also crop yield optimisation in the changing climate.

Leaf area by this method can be calculated by taking length and width of leaf by regression  equation given below:

                                                                        𝐴 = 𝑏 × 𝑙 × 𝑤

where l is the length, w is the width of the leaf at its widest point, b is the leaf shape coefficient that varies from species to species, and A is the leaf area.


This method is among the simplest one. But this method is destructive. The algorithm of this measurement is quite obvious: leaf is plucked. Then a researcher needs to measure dimensions of a leaf for area calculations.

Leaf Area Meters

This is one of the most innovative way. You can use either handheld or digital leaf area meters. Both provide good quality of measurements. However, they differs by price, time to process one measurement as well as functionality to save and share measurements.

You can see how do the digital leaf area meter works in the video below:

Leaf Area Measurement with a Smartphone

You can download Petiole Pro mobile application for leaf area measurement here.

2 Responses

  1. CharlesMuh says:

    Hello, what’s new?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *