trembling aspen, popple, small-toothed aspen

Populus tremuloides Michaux

Quaking aspen is the most widely distributed tree in North America. It is common in most sections of New York State but is infrequent on the pine barrens of Long Island. It is a short-lived tree, but has value as a cover tree in slashes, burns, and in old fields where it quickly establishes itself. The wood is soft, weak, not durable, light brown to white in color, and is used primarily in the manufacture of mechanical pulp, excelsior, crates, and boxes.

Bark - on young trunks and branches yellowish green to whitish in color, on old trunks roughened with broad, flat, blackish ridges.

Twigs - smooth, shiny, reddish, brown in color.

Winter buds - terminal bud 1/4 inch long, narrow, conical, often incurved, sharp-pointed, shiny, reddish brown in color; lateral buds smaller.

Leaves - alternate, simple, 1 1/2 to 3 inches in width, somewhat triangular in shape with rounded base, serrate margin, with flattened stem which allows the slightest breeze to flutter the leaves, from which the name, "quaking aspen," is derived.

Fruit - a scattered cluster of small, curved capsules, maturing in early spring. Seeds - within capsule, each with a tuft of hairs, carried long distances by the wind when capsule breaks open. This explains why the aspens spring up so quickly after fires on burned-over areas and in abandoned fields.

Distinguishing features - tiny teeth on margin of leaves; shiny twigs.

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