A structurally complete leaf of an angiosperm consists of a petiole (leaf stalk), a lamina (leaf blade), stipules (small structures located to either side of the base of the petiole) and a sheath. Not every species produces leaves with all of these structural components. The proximal stalk or petiole is called a stipe in ferns. The lamina is the expanded, flat component of the leaf which contains the chloroplasts. The sheath is a structure, typically at the base that fully or partially clasps the stem above the node, where the latter is attached. Leaf sheathes typically occur in Poaceae (grasses) and Apiaceae (umbellifers). Between the sheath and the lamina, there may be a pseudopetiole, a petiole like structure. Pseudopetioles occur in some monocotyledons including bananas, palms and bamboos. Stipules may be conspicuous (e.g. beans and roses), soon falling or otherwise not obvious as in Moraceae or absent altogether as in the Magnoliaceae. A petiole may be absent (apetiolate), or the blade may not be laminar (flattened). The tremendous variety shown in leaf structure (anatomy) from species to species is presented in detail below under morphology. The petiole mechanically links the leaf to the plant and provides the route for transfer of water and sugars to and from the leaf. The lamina is typically the location of the majority of photosynthesis. The upper (adaxial) angle between a leaf and a stem is known as the axil of the leaf. It is often the location of a bud. Structures located there are called "axillary".
The epidermis is the outer layer of cells covering the leaf. It is covered with a waxy cuticle which is impermeable to liquid water and water vapor and forms the boundary separating the plant's inner cells from the external world. The cuticle is in some cases thinner on the lower epidermis than on the upper epidermis, and is generally thicker on leaves from dry climates as compared with those from wet climates. The epidermis serves several functions: protection against water loss by way of transpiration, regulation of gas exchange and secretion of metabolic compounds. Most leaves show dorsoventral anatomy: The upper (adaxial) and lower (abaxial) surfaces have somewhat different construction and may serve different functions. 2b1af7f3a8