Quaking Aspen

Populus tremuloides

Quaking Aspen: Full Tree - Click for larger image
  • Family: Salicaceae

  • Medium-sized tree

  • Narrow, rounded crown

  • Reaches height between 12-21m (40-70’)

All photos by Jason Biggerstaff

Leaves
Twigs & Fruiting Structures
Bark
Distribution and Uses

Leaves

  • Rounded, thin, short-pointed with fine saw-teeth; 3-7½cm (1¼-3”) in length

  • Leaves tremble in breeze, hence given name (click here close-up of leaf)

  • Flattened, thin leafstalks

  • Shiny green from above; dull green below
Quaking Aspen: Leaves - Click for larger image
Quaking Aspen: Fruit - Click for larger image

Twigs & Fruiting Structures

  • Shiny dark brown, thin, hairless twigs

  • Shiny, slightly sticky end buds

  • Long, brownish catkins as flowers

  • Narrow, light green capsules as fruits; split into two parts when mature in late spring; many small cotton-like seeds; frequent root-sprout reproduction (click here for image of fruit)

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Bark

  • Smooth, thin, chalky-white to yellow-green; dark grey and thick on large trunks

Distribution & Uses

  • Prefers various different soils, particularly sand and gravel

  • Most widely distributed tree in North America; inhabits Alaska to Newfoundland, south to Virginia, Rocky Mountains, and Southwestern United States

  • Planted for ornamentation; wood used for boxes, furniture parts, and matches

  • Twigs and leaves eaten by moose, elk, deer, sheep, and goats; bark, leaves, buds eaten by small mammals like beavers and rabbits
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Quaking Aspen: Bark - Click for larger image