Year of 2017

Quaking aspens in Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

This lovely photo highlights the white bark of the quaking aspens in Colorado’s Gunnison National Forest. Why are the aspens ‘quaking’? The descriptive name comes from the thin, nearly flat, flexible leafstalks, or petioles if you’re feeling scientific. When even a gentle breeze blows, the leaves of the quaking aspen move with vigor. From a distance, they give the impression that the whole tree is shaking.

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, trembling aspen, American aspen, Quakies, mountain or golden aspen, trembling poplar, white poplar, popple, and even more names. The trees have tall trunks, up to 25 meters 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.
Scientific name: Populus tremuloides
Notables: Pando
Symbol of: Utah
Populus tremuloides range map
Range map of Populus tremuloides