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Although may people would characterize hosta leaves as being "big and round", the reality is that they come in many different forms. The following characteristics may be used to differentiate various species and cultivars of hostas.

Leaf Colors - The base color of the leaves will cover 60% or more of the leaf surface.

Variegation - Hostas have leaf variegation on the margin and center of the leaf. They also have streaked variegation scattered throughout the leaf tissue.

Seasonal Color Changes - Certain hostas emerge from the ground in one color but, as the season progresses, change to a slightly different hue.

Leaf Base Shape - The base of the leaf where it joins the petiole can be one of several different shapes.

Leaf Layers - From the top to the bottom of the leaf surface, there are many layers of cells. Depending on the pigmentation of three of these layers, the leaf will either be of a solid color or variegated.

Petioles - The leaf stalk or petiole, may have different physical traits and may be of a different color from the leaf blade.

Red Color - In recent years, there has been a trend toward more hostas that display reddish to purplish color in the petioles and into the leaf blade.

Leaf Shapes - From nearly round to long and narrow, the shape of the leaf blade of hostas can vary significantly.

Leaf Surface - The top surface of the leaf blade may vary in texture and display a number of different traits.

Leaf Texture - This refers to the visual and tactile texture of the leaf blades of hostas.

Leaf Tips - Some hosta leaves come to a point while others are more rounded.

Leaf Veins - As a monocotyledon, hostas have parallel veins in their leaf blades. The number and depth of the veins may be identifying traits.

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