Aspen, deciduous, hardwood TREE
in genus Populus
family. Trembling (quaking) aspen (P. tremuloides
) and largetooth aspen (P. grandidentata
) are native to Canada; the former, found from the TREELINE
to northern Mexico, is the most widely distributed tree in North America. Trembling aspen grows on most soils, doing best on well-drained, moist, sandy or gravelly loams. It is shade-intolerant and short-lived (about 60 years). A "pioneer" tree, it colonizes areas disturbed by logging or fire, propagating by root suckers rather than seeds. It also acts as "nurse tree" to softwood or hardwood forest taking over a site. On the Prairies, it may be the only tree.
Leaves are nearly circular, with a short tip; the flattened stalk makes them tremble in the wind. Twigs are slender, shiny and brownish grey, the bark smooth, waxy and pale green to chalky white in colour. Trees reach 12-18 m in height. Open grown specimens have a profusely branched, globular crown; forest trees have long, cylindrical trunks with short, rounded crowns.
Quaking aspen is the most widespread tree in North America. Shown with female flowers (left) and male flowers (right) (artwork by Claire Tremblay).
The terrain around Ramsey Lakes, Manitoba is typical of aspen parkland, depicting samphire along the rocky shore, fescue grassland and aspen woodland. The region is part of the largest remaining block of aspen parkland left in the world. Most of the original parkland has been converted to cropland (photo by Cleve Wershler, courtesy Cottonwood Consultants Ltd.).
Links to Other Sites
The Plant List
Search this online database for information about one million plant species from around the world. Also, click on "major plant groups" at the bottom of the page to browse descriptions of species of interest. Fungi and algae are excluded. From the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in the UK and the Missouri Botanical Garden in the US.
Flora of North America
The FNA website features information on the names, taxonomic relationships, continent-wide distributions, and morphological characteristics of all plants native and naturalized found in North America north of Mexico.