Aspen trees are one of the many wonders of nature. These are deciduous trees, medium in size, and with greenish-white, gray to white, or yellowish-green, smooth barks. The tree reaches a height of 20 to 80 feet under optimal conditions and can be 2 to 18 inches in diameter. The bark becomes fissured and rough with age. The chlorophyll in the barks is responsible for their green color.
These trees are also more commonly known as “quaking” aspen because their leaves tremble or quake in the lightest of breeze. The leaves are very light in weight, small, and flattened. The base is rounded and the end is pointed to form an apex. Along the margin of the leaves are pointed or rounded teeth and along the entire length is a flattened stem or petiole. The flattened petiole is responsible for their quaking even in the light breeze. Young sucker aspens are known to have much larger leaves than quaking aspen, sometimes as long as 7 to 8 inches.
Interesting facts about quaking aspen
- Aspen trees have very rapid growth and can survive harsh climates. It takes only a few seasons to fully grow the quaking aspen and this makes them very useful when the intention is to set up a wonderful garden quickly. The yellowish-green leaves give a beautiful autumn color.
- Quaking aspen plays the role of a “succession tree” in a natural forest. The tree disperses quite readily in burned-out or eroded areas and once the new trees grow into shady trees, they provide ideal cover for other seedlings in the forest. Pine, spruce, and fir can grow in the cover of quaking aspen. The trees die out over time as the forest grows in size.
- The Quaking aspen grove in Utah’s Fishlake National Forest is recognized as the largest living species with over 50,000 stems rising from a single root. Collectively, the entire organism is more than 100 acres large and weighs 6000 tons.
- Quaking aspen roots can sprout a number of stems and give rise to a number of quaking aspen “trees” that are all one organism in reality. The “Pando” in the Fremont River Ranger District, also recognized as the “trembling giant” is a single aspen organism as all the stems have been sprouted from a single giant root.
Growing quaking aspen trees
If you plan on growing a quaking aspen tree, the best option is to go for a nursery-frown quaking aspen seedling instead of taking one from the wild. Trees grown in nurseries in their initial years are hardier and require less care. The lack of need for cultivation also eliminates the chances of diseases that might result from the cultivation process. Once you have got your quaking aspen tree, the first thing you need to consider is where to plant it. Moist and well-drained soil is the optimal growing condition for quaking aspen. It is also preferable for the sild to be slightly acidic. Quaking aspen trees cannot survive dry or hot soil so plant them on northern or eastern slopes or sides of your home.