Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides)

Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides)

The Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides); also known as Trembling Aspen, Golden Aspen, Mountain Aspen, Trembling Poplar, White Poplar and Popple Aspen; is a deciduous, dioecious angiosperm in the Willow Family (Salicaceae). The family name is from the Latin for "willow grove." The genus name is Latin for "poplar." The species name is from the Latin for "trembling or shivering." The wood of the Quaking Aspen is used for paper pulp and composite products like flake-board. It may also be used to make small wooden products like matches, tongue depressors, ice cream sticks and animal bedding. The wood does not splinter, which makes it ideal for items that children might use.

This tree can grow to 98 feet (30 meters) but is typically less than half that height. The trunk diameter can be as large as 1½ feet (½ meter). It has a columnar form with a rounded top.

The simple leaves are up to three inches (7.5 centimeters) long, ovate to nearly round, heart-shaped with a short sharp point and have finely serrated margins. The finely serrated margins help differentiate the Quaking Aspen from the Bigtooth Aspen. The leaves are green above, duller green below and turn golden-yellow in autumn. The slightest breeze will cause the leaves to flutter, whence the common name. The twigs are shiny brown, hairless and knobby.

Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides) Leaves Detail

The imperfect flowers are catkins up to 2½ inches (6 centimeters) long. The male flower is pink and the female flower is brown.  The fruit is a conical, green capsule about ¼ inch (6 millimeters) long. The capsules split in late spring releasing tiny seeds, 1/12 inch (2 millimeters) long, attached to long hairs that are blown about by the wind. There are 3,248,000 seeds to the pound (0.45 kilograms).

Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides) Leaves and Twigs

The bark of the Quaking Aspen is white, thin and smooth with gray highlights. Older trees will develop bark that is dark gray, furrowed and thicker.

Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides) Bark

The root system has a minimum depth of 32 inches (81 centimeters). This tree will often reproduce by underground shoots forming groves. Quaking Aspen groves make excellent fire breaks. The Quaking Aspen will also hybridize with the Bigtooth Aspen incorporating features of both trees.


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