The Quaking Aspen, a North American deciduous tree, belongs to the willow family. One of the most "widely distributed trees," quaking aspens add to the environmental aesthetics, serving as a popular tree in landscaping, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service. In addition to its beauty, the quaking aspen does not burn easily and reproduces more quickly than other trees.
Crown Height: 25 to 60feet
Crown Width: 20 to 30 feet
Adult Quaking Aspens have a smooth, white bark with bands around it. Leaves of the quaking aspen, broad and golden-yellow, have "finely serrated leaf margins" and appear striking against the tree's banded, white bark with its smooth surface. The bark on a young tree, though, has a golden-yellow or grayish color.
Industry: Quaking Aspen is an important fiber source, especially for pulp, flake-board, and other composite products. The wood is light and soft with little shrinkage and is used for pallets, boxes, veneer, and plywood. Higher grades are used for other solid wood products, such as paneling, furniture components, and flooring. The wood characteristics make it useful in miscellaneous products, including excelsior, animal bedding, match sticks, toys, beehives, tongue depressors, spoons, and ice cream sticks. It makes good playground structure because the surface does not splinter, although the wood warps and susceptible to decay.
Conservation: Quaking Aspen is valued for its white bark and brilliant fall color, especially when clustered. The species have been widely used in landscaping but is best in sites away from structures that might be damaged by the aggressive roots. The trees provide good visual screening and noise abatement. Aspen stands are good firebreaks, often dropping crown fires in conifer stands to the ground when they reah aspens and even sometimes extinguishing the fire because of the small of the small amount of flammable accumulation. They allow more ground water recharge than do conifer forests and they also play a significant role in protecting against soil erosion. They have been used in restoration of riparian habitats.
Wildlife: Young quaking aspen provides food and habitat for a variety of wildlife, black bear, deer, beaver, porcupine, elk, moose, ruffed grouse and many smaller birds and animals., including small mammals such as mice, voles, shrews, chipmunks, and rabbits, bark, buds, new sprouts, twigs from the tops of fallen or logged trees, and fallen leaves all are wildlife foods.
Ethno botanic: Native Americans used Populus bark (including aspen) as a food source. They cut the inner bark into strips, dried and ground it into meal to be mixed with other starches for bread or mush. Catkins were eaten raw, and the cambium was eaten raw or in a soup.
General upkeep and control:
The thin soft bark of quaking aspen makes it susceptible to many diseases and insect infestations as well as mechanical and fire damage. Fires may kill trees or cause basal scars that serve as entry points for wood-rotting fungi which are common in older stands. The wood decays easily. Fires may also kill surface roots that could reduce sucker regeneration.
Insects and diseases:
The poplar borer beetle, one of the most common wood borers of aspen, weakens trees by boring galleries in the trunk near the lower portion of the crown., outbreak of forest tent caterpillar may last 4-5 years and result in serious defoliation.. cold weather in the spring shortly after the eggs hatch and above-average fall temperatures can cause a rapid decline in caterpillar populations by killing eggs and larvae. Overgrazing by livestock or big game animals disturbs roots and compacts soil., limiting sucker formation. Heavy grazing of young sucker stands by cattle for three years in a row may destroy them.