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Vick, Albert F. W.
Populus tremuloides Michx.
Quaking aspen, Aspen
Synonym(s): Populus aurea, Populus cercidiphylla, Populus tremula ssp. tremuloides, Populus tremuloides var. aurea, Populus tremuloides var. cercidiphylla, Populus tremuloides var. intermedia, Populus tremuloides var. magnifica, Populus tremuloides var. rhomboidea, Populus tremuloides var. vancouveriana, Populus vancouveriana, Populus ×polygonifolia
USDA Symbol: POTR5
A 35-50 ft. deciduous tree, quaking aspen is pyramidal when young, usually developing a long trunk and narrow, rounded crown at maturity. Its small, nearly round, shiny leaves have a flattened petiole which allows them to quiver in the slightest breeze. Smooth, whitish-green bark becomes furrowed at the trunk’s base with age. Silvery catkins appear before leaves. Fall color is bright yellow.
The names refer to the leaves, which in the slightest breeze tremble on their flattened leafstalks. The soft smooth bark is sometimes marked by bear claws. A pioneer tree after fires and logging and on abandoned fields, it is short-lived and replaced by conifers. Sometimes planted as an ornamental. Principal uses of the wood include pulpwood, boxes, furniture parts, matches, excelsior, and particle-board. The twigs and foliage are browsed by deer, elk, and moose, also by sheep and goats. Beavers, rabbits, and other mammals eat the bark, foliage, and buds, and grouse and quail feed on the winter buds.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Tree Breeding System:
, Monoecious Leaf:
Green Autumn Foliage:
Brown Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Yellow , Green , Brown
Bloom Time: Apr , May
, WY Canada: AB
, YT Native Distribution:
Lab. to AK,
s. to n. VA,
& in mts. to CA
& n. Mex. Native Habitat:
Stream banks; moist, low areas; moist, upland woods; disturbed areas
Growing ConditionsWater Use:
High Light Requirement:
Sun , Part Shade , Shade Soil Moisture:
Dry , Moist , Wet CaCO3 Tolerance:
High Cold Tolerant:
Igneous, Limestone-based, Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Caliche type, Shallow, moist, rocky , sandy to fine clay soils. Conditions Comments:
Quaking aspen reproduces rapidly from seed and root suckers. It is short-lived and plagued by disease and insect problems, but is practically indifferent to soil conditions. In
any soil, weeding around the tree
can boost its growth surprisingly. Aspen can be grown in a clump by periodically removing the older, damaged stems, allowing new sprouts to fill in. Western material is often referred to as var. aurea.
BenefitUse Ornamental: Attractive, Fall conspicuous
Use Wildlife: Aspens are host to a wide array of birds, mammals, and butterflies. Seeds-granivorous birds, Browse
Attracts: Birds , Butterflies
Larval Host: Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Viceroy
PropagationPropagation Material: Root Division
Description: Easy to propagate from suckers or cuttings, though when available, fresh seeds germinate readily in high percentages. Fresh seed is viable only a few days. Seeds should not be covered and seedbed should be kept saturated the first month.
Seed Collection: Not Available
Seed Treatment: No treatment is necessary.
Commercially Avail: yes
Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)
is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
National Wetland Indicator Status
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1
(Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here
for map of regions.
From the National Organizations Directory
According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:
Native Seed Network
- Corvallis, OR
Record Last Modified: 2009-02-18
Research By: TWC Staff