Quaking Aspen

(Populus tremuloides)

The trembling tree
Also known as trembling aspen, it derives its name from the quaking of its leaves due to thelong and flattened petioles that connect its leaves to its branches. Even the slightest breeze will cause the leaves to flutter. This gives the overall appearance that it is quaking or trembling, hence the scientific name – tremuloides.

The only absolute requirement for quaking aspen is lots of sunlight. Consequently its range extends from New England through Canada, into Alaska, and south into California and Arizona, anywhere there is moist soil in openings or along edges of pine and spruce forests. This tree occurs in more states than any other tree.

Quaking aspens can be identified by their smooth, white bark marked by black scars where lower branches have been “self-pruned." Its leaves are somewhat heart-shaped, from 1 to 3 inches long, with finely saw-toothed margins and white undersides.  

Quaking aspens grow in large and dense colonies throughout North America, so its understory can only support shade-tolerant shrubs and plants. Its leaves serve as food for caterpillars of various moth and butterfly species.

The quaking aspen is an adaptive species and can endure lows of -78°F and highs of 110°F. It prefers moist soil, but can grow near intermittent springs in desert environments that receive less then 7 inches of annual precipitation.

It propagates itself primarily through root sprouts, and extensive colonies are common. Each colony is its own clone, where all trees have identical characteristics and share a single root structure. Pollination is inhibited by the fact that aspens are either male or female, and large stands are usually all clones of the same sex. Used mainly for pulp products such as books, newsprint and fine printing paper, aspen is especially good for panel products such as strand or wafer board. 


9755 SW Barnes Rd., Suite 210        
Portland, OR 97225        
Phone: 971-673-2944        
Fax: 971-673-2946

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