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Populus
Populus
tremuloides is a deciduous tree native to cooler areas of North America, one of several species referred to by the common name aspen. It is commonly called quaking aspen,[1][2][3] trembling aspen,[1][2] American aspen,[2] Quakies,[1] mountain or golden aspen,[4] trembling poplar,[4] white poplar,[4] popple,[4] as well as others.[4] The trees have tall trunks, up to 25 meters (82 feet) tall, with smooth pale bark, scarred with black. The glossy green leaves, dull beneath, become golden to yellow, rarely red, in autumn. The species often propagates through its roots to form large clonal groves originating from a shared root system. These roots are not rhizomes, as new growth develops from adventitious buds on the parent root system (the ortet). Populus
Populus
tremuloides is the most widely distributed tree in North America, being found from Canada
Canada
to central Mexico.[3][5] It is the defining species of the aspen parkland biome in the Prairie Provinces of Canada
Canada
and extreme northwest Minnesota. The Quaking Aspen
Aspen
is the state tree of Utah.

Contents

1 Name 2 Description 3 Distribution 4 Ecology

4.1 Dieback

5 Uses 6 References 7 External links

Name[edit] The quaking or trembling of the leaves that is referred to in the common names is due to the flexible flattened petioles. The specific epithet, tremuloides, evokes this trembling behavior and can be literally translated as "like (Populus) tremula", the European trembling aspen. Description[edit]

Aspen
Aspen
catkins in spring

Quaking aspen is a tall, fast growing tree, usually 20–25 m (65–80 ft) at maturity, with a trunk 20 to 80 cm (8 inches to 2 feet 7 inches) in diameter; records are 36.5 m (119 ft 9 in) in height and 1.37 m (4 ft 6 in) in diameter. The bark is relatively smooth, colored greenish-white to gray, and is marked by thick black horizontal scars and prominent black knots. Parallel vertical scars are tell-tale signs of elk, which strip off aspen bark with their front teeth. The leaves on mature trees are nearly round, 4–8 centimeters (1 1⁄2–3 1⁄4 inches) in diameter with small rounded teeth, and a 3–7-centimeter (1 1⁄4–2 3⁄4-inch) long, flattened petiole. Young trees and root sprouts have much larger (10–20 centimeters, 4–8 in long) nearly triangular leaves. Some species of Populus
Populus
have petioles flattened partially along their length, while the aspens and some other poplars have them flattened from side to side along the entire length of the petiole. Aspens are dioecious, with separate male and female clones. The flowers are catkins 4–6 centimeters (1 1⁄2–2 1⁄4 in) long, produced in early spring before the leaves; The fruit is a 10-centimeter-long (4-inch) pendulous string of 6-millimeter (1⁄4-inch) capsules, each capsule containing about ten minute seeds embedded in cottony fluff, which aids wind dispersal of the seeds when they are mature in early summer. The quaking aspen is the State Tree of Utah.[6] Distribution[edit] Quaking aspen occurs across Canada
Canada
in all provinces and territories, with the possible exception of Nunavut. In the United States, it can be found as far north as the northern foothills of the Brooks Range
Brooks Range
in Alaska, where road margins and gravel pads provide islands of well-drained habitat in a region where soils are often waterlogged due to underlying permafrost.[7] It occurs at low elevations as far south as northern Nebraska
Nebraska
and central Indiana. In the western United States, this tree rarely survives at elevations lower than 1,500 feet (460 m) due to hot summers experienced below that elevation, and is generally found at 5,000–12,000 feet (1,500–3,700 m). It grows at high altitudes as far south as Guanajuato, Mexico. Quaking aspen grows in a wide variety of climatic conditions. January and July average temperatures range from −30 °C (−22 °F) and 16 °C (61 °F) in the Alaska
Alaska
Interior to −3 °C (27 °F) and 23 °C (73 °F) in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Average annual precipitation ranges from 1,020 mm (40 inches) in Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador
Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador
to as little as 180 mm (7.1 inches) in the Alaska
Alaska
Interior. The southern limit of the species' range roughly follows the 24 °C (75 °F) mean July isotherm.[3] Shrub-like dwarf clones exist in marginal environments too cold and dry to be hospitable to full-size trees, for example at the species' upper elevation limits in the White Mountains.

Trembling aspen at sunset

Ecology[edit]

Individual clonal colonies can be discerned during the autumn, as seen on this mountainside in the Matanuska Valley
Matanuska Valley
in Alaska.

Quaking aspen propagates itself primarily through root sprouts, and extensive clonal colonies are common. Each colony is its own clone, and all trees in the clone have identical characteristics and share a single root structure. A clone may turn color earlier or later in the fall than its neighbouring aspen clones. Fall colors are usually bright tones of yellow; in some areas, red blushes may be occasionally seen. As all trees in a given clonal colony are considered part of the same organism, one clonal colony, named Pando, is considered the heaviest[8] and oldest[1] living organism at six million kilograms and perhaps 80,000 years old. Aspens do produce seeds, but seldom grow from them. Pollination is inhibited by the fact that aspens are either male or female, and large stands are usually all clones of the same sex. Even if pollinated, the small seeds (three million per pound) are only viable a short time as they lack a stored food source or a protective coating.[9] Dieback[edit] Beginning in 1996, individual North American scientists noticed an increase in dead or dying aspen trees. As this accelerated in 2004, word spread and a debate over causes began. No insect, disease, or environmental condition is yet specifically identified as a joint cause. Trees adjacent to one another are often stricken or not. In other instances, entire groves have died. Many areas of the Western US have experienced increased diebacks which are often attributed to ungulate grazing and wildfire suppression. At high altitudes where grasses can be rare, ungulates can browse young aspen sprouts and prevent those young trees from reaching maturity. As a result, some aspen groves close to cattle or other grazing animals, such as deer or elk, have very few young trees and can be invaded by conifers, which are not typically browsed. Another possible deterrent to aspen regeneration is widespread wildfire suppression. Aspens are vigorous resprouters and even though the above-ground portion of the organism may die in a wild-fire, the roots, which are often protected from lethal temperatures during a fire, will sprout new trees soon after a fire. Disturbances such as fires seem to be a necessary ecological event in order for aspens to compete with conifers, which tend to replace aspen over long, disturbance-free intervals. The current dieback in the American West may have roots in the strict fire suppression policy in the United States.[citation needed] On the other hand, the widespread decimation of conifer forests by the mountain pine beetle may provide increased opportunities for aspen groves to proliferate under the right conditions.[10] Because of the vegetative regeneration method of reproduction used by the aspen, where an entire group of trees are essentially clones, there is a concern that something that hits one will eventually kill all of the trees, presuming they share the same vulnerability. A conference was held in Utah
Utah
in September 2006 to share notes and consider investigative methodology.[11]

Typical yellow autumn foliage

Atypical orange and red autumn foliage

Uses[edit] Aspen
Aspen
bark contains a substance that was extracted by indigenous North Americans and European settlers of the western U.S. as a quinine substitute.[9] Like other poplars, aspens make poor fuel wood, as they dry slowly, rot quickly, and do not give off much heat. Yet they are still widely used in campgrounds because they are cheap and plentiful and not widely used in building lumber. Pioneers in the North American west used them to create log cabins and dugouts, though they were not the preferred species. The leaves of the quaking aspen and other species in the genus Populus serve as food for caterpillars of various moths and butterflies. See List of Lepidoptera that feed on poplars. In Canada, quaking aspen wood is used mainly for pulp products such as books, newsprint, and fine printing paper. It is especially good for panel products such as oriented strand board and waferboard. It is light in weight and is used for furniture, boxes and crates, core stock in plywood, and wall panels. References[edit]

^ a b c d Quaking Aspen
Aspen
by the Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon
National Park Service ^ a b c " Populus
Populus
tremuloides". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service
Agricultural Research Service
(ARS), United States
United States
Department of Agriculture (USDA).  ^ a b c Perala, D. A. (1990). " Populus
Populus
tremuloides". In Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H. Hardwoods. Silvics of North America. Washington, D.C.: United States
United States
Forest Service (USFS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). 2 – via Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry (www.na.fs.fed.us).  ^ a b c d e "technology transfer fact sheet: Populus
Populus
spp" (PDF). Forest Products Laboratory: R&D USDA. Madison, Wisconsin: United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Center for Wood Anatomy Research. Retrieved 20 September 2010.  ^ "Aspen, Quaking ( Populus
Populus
tremuloides)". Arbor Day Foundation.  ^ "S.B. 41 State Tree Change". Utah
Utah
State Legislature.  ^ Ackerman, Daniel; Breen, Amy (2016-06-06). "Infrastructure Development Accelerates Range Expansion of Trembling Aspen
Aspen
( Populus tremuloides, Salicaceae) into the Arctic". ARCTIC. 69 (2): 130–136. doi:10.14430/arctic4560. ISSN 1923-1245.  ^ Genetic Variation and the Natural History of Quaking Aspen, Jeffry B. Mitton; Michael C. Grant, BioScience, Vol. 46, No. 1. (Jan., 1996), pp. 25-31. ^ a b Ewing, Susan. The Great Alaska
Alaska
Nature Factbook. Portland: Alaska Northwest Books, 1996. ^ "How will aspen respond to mountain pine beetle? A review of literature and discussion of knowledge gaps". Forest Ecology and Management. 299: 60–69. doi:10.1016/j.foreco.2013.01.008.  ^ Kelley, Katie (26 September 2006). "Emblem of the West Is Dying, and No One Can Figure Out Why". The New York Times. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Populus
Populus
tremuloides (category) at Wikimedia Commons Data related to Populus
Populus
tremuloides at Wikispecies US Forest Service Fire Effects Information System: Populus
Populus
tremuloides Alberta Forest Genetic Resources Council: Populus
Populus
tremuloides Interactive Distribution Map for Populus
Populus
tremuloides " Populus
Populus
tremuloides". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 8 August 2006.  Farrar, John Laird. Trees In Canada. Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 1995 Hickman, James C., ed. The Jepson Manual: Higher Plants of California, 0520082559. University of California Press, 1993.

Taxon identifiers

Wd: Q469576 EoL: 466982 EPPO: POPTM FNA: 242417041 GBIF: 3040215 GRIN: 29424 iNaturalist: 54840 IPNI: 776886-1 ITIS: 195773 NCBI: 3693 Plant
Plant
List: kew-5000290 PLANTS: POTR5 Tropicos: 283

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