5 Quaking Aspen Facts For Nature Lovers

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Aspen trees in the fall

Quaking Aspen are an iconic, widespread tree of the Rocky Mountains.  Here are some very cool facts about this beautiful tree of the Rockies.

I love hiking along a trail when it crosses into a grove of Aspen trees.  There is just something so special about walking amongst those trees.  I love how you can see all the straight, white trunks standing tall and hear the leaves shaking in the wind.  These trees are so photogenic and can be found all over the mountains.  I hope that these facts will show you a little bit more why I love these amazing trees so much.

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Photo via Flickr.

5 Quaking Aspen Facts For Nature Lovers

This is a fast growing pioneer species of tree.  This means that it is one of the first trees to begin growing in an area that has been cleared by some type of disturbance, such as a fire or avalanche. Sometimes you can look up at a steep slope and see it covered by Aspen.  This may indicate a past avalanche in the area.

This is one of the most widespread trees in North America.  The main reason for this is its ability to grow so well in the mountains.  In fact, they make up one of the main forest communities in the Rockies – the fir-aspen zone.

aspenTrees and plants generally reproduce by either producing seeds or spores.  Quaking Aspen is an exception to this since in the western US it mainly reproduces by growing new trees from root suckers.  These are long roots that grow underground horizontally and send up new shoots from them.  This type of growth explains why oftentimes you will see a thick clump of these trees growing somewhere.

One group of these trees in Utah (called Pando) may be the largest single organism in the world.  As I said these trees reproduce using root suckers.  This means that the new trees are all clones of the original tree.  This makes them one single organism.  Back in 1976 scientists estimated that Pando consisted of 47,000 trees that were clones.

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Look at the brilliant yellow aspen trees.

In the fall the leaves on these trees turn a brilliant yellow or golden color.  They become this fall color because the leaves lose the chlorophyl and their natural pigment can then show.  A hillside or slope will look so dramatic because all the trees that are connected via their root suckers will turn yellow and lose their leaves at the same time.

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