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Populus tremuloides
Quaking Aspen grove
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Malpighiales
Family: Salicaceae
Genus: Populus
Section: Populus
Species: P. tremuloides
Binomial name
Populus tremuloides
Michx.

Populus tremuloides is a deciduous tree native to cooler areas of North America. The species is referred to Quaking Aspen, Trembling Aspen, and Quakies, names deriving from its leaves which flutter in the breeze.[1] The tree-like plant has tall trunks, up to 25 metres, with smooth pale bark, scarred with black. The glossy green leaves, dull beneath, become golden to yellow, rarely red, in Autumn. The species rarely flowers, often propagating through its roots to form large groves.

Contents

Name

The name references the quaking or trembling of the leaves that occurs in even a slight breeze due to the flattened petioles. The specific epithet, tremuloides, is given for this trembling characteristic.[1] Other species of Populus have petioles flattened partially along their length, while the Quaking Aspen's are flattened from side to side along the entire length of the petiole. This quaking of the leaves produces a soft sound that many consider a hallmark of the Quaking Aspen. It can be found in most parts of North America.

One of several species to be referred to by the common name Aspen, or American, Quaking, Trembling, Mountain or Golden aspen, the name poplar, Trembling Poplar, is used along with Quakies, Quakers, Popple, Álamo Blanco, and Álamo Temblón.

The female name Waverly means Quaking Aspen, or Meadow of Quaking Aspen.

Description

A tall, fast growing tree, usually 20–25 metres (66–82 ft) at maturity, with a trunk 20–80 centimetres (7.9–31 in) in diameter; records are 36.5 meters (120 ft) in height and 1.37 metres (4.5 ft) in diameter.

The bark is relatively smooth greenish-white to gray and is marked by thick black horizontal scars and prominent black knots.

The leaves on mature trees are nearly round, 4–8 centimetres (1.6–3.1 in) in diameter with small rounded teeth, and a 3–7 centimetres (1.2–2.8 in) long, flattened petiole. Young trees (including root sprouts) have much larger—10–20 centimetres (3.9–7.9 in) long—nearly triangular leaves.

The flowers are catkins 4–6 centimetres (1.6–2.4 in) long, produced in early spring before the leaves; it is dioecious, with male and female catkins on different trees. The fruit is a 10-centimetre (3.9 in) long pendulous string of 6-millimetre (0.24 in) 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.

Quaking aspen growing near an old homestead in the hills of eastern Washington

Distribution

Distribution Map of the Quaking Aspen
Distribution Map of the Quaking Aspen.

The northern limit is determined by its intolerance of permafrost. It occurs across 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 southern slopes of the Brooks Range in Alaska, and it occurs at low elevations as far south as northern Nebraska and central Indiana.. In the western United States, this tree rarely survives at elevations lower than 1,500 feet (460 m) due to the mild winters 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

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.

Ecology

Individual clonal colonies can be discerned during the autumn, as seen on this mountainside in the Matanuska Valley in Alaska (note the persons and a vehicle at lower left for scale)

It 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[2] and oldest[1] living organism at six million kilograms and approximately 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.[3]

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Dieback

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 in close proximity 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 wildfire, 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.

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 in September 2006 to share notes and consider investigative methodology.[4]

Uses

Aspen bark contains a substance that was extracted by Native Americans and the pioneers of the American West as a quinine substitute.[3]

The leaves of the Quaking Aspen serve as food for caterpillars of various Lepidoptera. See List of Lepidoptera that feed on poplars.

In Canada, it is used mainly for pulp products such as books, newsprint, and fine printing paper. Aspen is especially good for panel products such as oriented strandboard and waferboard. Its lumber is light in weight and is used for furniture, boxes and crates, core stock in plywood, and wall panels.

Notes

  1. ^ a b c Quaking Aspen by the Bryce Canyon National Park Service
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ a b Ewing, Susan. The Great Alaska Nature Factbook. Portland: Alaska Northwest Books, 1996.
  4. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/26/science/earth/26aspen.html

References

External links


Wikispecies

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies

Populus tremuloides 8163.jpg

Taxonavigation

Classification System: APG II (down to family level)

Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiospermae
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: core eudicots
Cladus: Rosids
Cladus: Eurosids I
Ordo: Malpighiales
Familia: Salicaceae
Genus: Populus
Species: Populus tremuloides

Name

Populus tremuloides Michx.

References

  • Fl. bor.-amer. 2:243. 1803
  • USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. Germplasm Resources Information Network - (GRIN) [Data from 07-Oct-06]. 29424

Vernacular names

English: Quaking Aspen,Trembling Aspen, or Popple
Suomi: Amerikanhaapa
Türkçe: Amerika titrek kavağı

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