Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides)

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This page last updated on 10/02/2017
(Fig. 01)

Picture Notes: The pictures on this page were all capture at various places inside of the Spring Mountain National Recreation Area and the Mt. Charleston Wilderness Area northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada. Specifically, (Figs. 01, 02 and 08) were taken along the trail to the Cathedral Dome. The trees shown in (Figs. 04 & 05) were captured at the parking and traihead area to the Mary Jane Falls. More are see on the following post ... Mt. Charleston's Quaking Aspens. The stands in (Figs. 06 and 07) were taken along the Bristlecone Pine Trail, ... Bristlecone Trail.

(Fig. 02)
Descriiption: Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides) is a deciduous tree native to cooler areas of North America. One of several species, it is also known as quaking aspen, trembling aspen, American aspen, Quakies, mountain or golden aspen, trembling poplar, white poplar, popple, and others. When the wind blows the leaves tremble and flutter hence the name "quaking" aspen.

(Fig. 03)
The trees have tall trunks, usually 65–80 feet at maturity, with smooth pale bark, scarred with black. The glossy green leaves, dull beneath, become golden to yellow, rarely red (Fig. 03), in autumn. The species often propagates through its roots to form large clonal groves originating from a shared root system. This tall fast growing tree can have a trunk of 8 inches to 2 feet 7 inches in diameter. Though I have never seen anything this big, records are 119 ft 9 inches in height with a 4 feet 6 inches 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, 1 1⁄2–3 1⁄4 inches in diameter with small rounded teeth, and a 1 1⁄4–2 3⁄4-inch long, flattened petiole. In the western United States, this tree rarely survives at elevations lower than 1,500 feet due to hot summers experienced below that elevation, and is generally found at 5,000–12,000 feet. The pictures for all of these were at an elevation of between 8,500 and 10,000 feet.
This tree is a staple for the habitat of ruffed grouse, which feed on the bud and catkin.  Also a food source for pheasant, orioles, and many others. It is often used for nesting by a variety of woodpeckers. This high protein tree is also an important feed source for deer and beaver. Caterpillars of various moths and butterflies also use its leaves as a food source.

(Fig. 04)
(Fig. 05)
(Fig. 06)
(Fig. 07)
(Fig. 08)