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Leaf Patterns

The term "leaf pattern" with respect to camouflage design generally refers to the US ERDL camouflage pattern worn during the Vietnam War, and the many derivatives that have been produced since. In 1948, the US Army Engineer Research and Development Laboratory (ERDL) designed a general purpose jungle camouflage consisting of mid-brown & grass green organic shapes with black "branches" on a lime green background. This pattern is generally referred to as the ERDL pattern, but has earned the nickname "leaf pattern" among GIs and collectors over the years. ERDL camouflage tropical uniforms began seeing service with reconnaissance and Special Forces personnel deployed to Vietnam in 1967, and later with the USMC and Commonwealth special forces units. The original ERDL pattern is predominantly green and is often considered a "lowlands" pattern, referring to its suitability for application as camouflage in the lush, lowland regions of Southest Asia. A predominantly brown version is often considered a "highlands" pattern, referring to its suitability for application as camouflage in the rocky, mountainous regions of Southeast Asia. The US m81 woodland camouflage pattern is a direct descendant of the original ERDL "leaf" design, being nothing more than a recoloring of the original drawings after enlarging them 60%. Leaf patterns are characterised by having narrow, irregular, branchlike shapes in two or more colors over a solid background, as opposed to the later woodland camouflage patterns which tend to have thicker overlapping shapes and larger areas of solid color.

  • The original m1948 ERDL (leaf) pattern is seen below (left), with the 1967 "highlands" version next to it (right).

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  • A later version of the ERDL pattern using a different colorway, was produced between 1979 and 1981.


  • South Vietnamese "leaf" pattern, issued to paratroops and ARVN Rangers during the war.


  • The Czech vz85 and vz90 "leaf" patterns are obviously influenced by the original ERDL design, although they use a different set of drawings.

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  • This pattern issued in Guatemala is also influenced by the ERDL design, and consdered a "leaf" pattern.


  • This Iraqi pattern of the Popular Army and Republican Guards is also derived from the ERDL design, as is the later version (below, right)

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  • This Jordanian "leaf" design from the 1970s is closely related to the Iraqi pattern above.


  • Another modified derivative still in the "leaf" family of pattern is this design worn by Kazakhstan.


  • Pakistan has produced a number of patterns having a loose relationship with the original ERDL camouflage design.

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  • The pattern below, worn by the Panamanian Defense Forces, was directly copied from the 2nd generation ERDL design.


  • Navy SEALs and UDT Teams in South Korea have worn this derivative of the ERDL design.


  • El Salvador has been another frequent user of "leaf" pattern derivatives, such as the two seen below.

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  • The Republic of China (Taiwan) Army has worn an ERDL style camouflage for many years.

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  • Thailand was one of the first nations to copy the US m1948 ERDL camouflage design, and has worn derivatives of the pattern into the present era.

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  • During the 1980s, Turkey also issued some "leaf" pattern derivatives.

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