As with hemp, the cotyledonal leaves, which yellow, dry and fall onto the ground after fulfilling their task of providing nutrition for the early stages of life of the seedling, are followed by the real leaves that in the case of kenaf have a marked polymorphism, both for whole leaf and septate leaf varieties.

The most important element in distinguishing kenaf from hemp at this stage of development is, as we will see in more detail further on, the characteristic that the basal leaves of any variety of kenaf, both whole and septate leaves, are always whole.
Whereas, in the case of hemp, all the real leaves, right from the base of the stalk, are always compound leaves.