Quaking Aspen common

Recognize the name? Maybe not.
Try Poplar, Trembling Aspen, Popple, Asp, and White Poplar. These are all common names for the same tree.
The scientific name (Populus tremuloides) is the same all over the world.
This poplar is one of four which can be found in Northern Ontario. Some of the others are scarce, but this one certainly is not.
It is one of our most common trees—in farm areas, in rocky outcroppings, and in the woods. Its range is from the Yukon to Labrador, and almost all areas south of that.
In some parts of the Prairies, it is the only wild native tree.
The tree itself is not large, perhaps 50 feet tall when mature. There have been specimens found, however, where the tree reached about 90 feet and it was almost three feet in diameter.
Poplars often make thick stands of fairly young trees. They grow fast, and multiply quickly, too, so they can form a dense thicket in almost no time.
They reproduce in two ways: by seeds and by suckers.
All of the poplars, including Quaking Aspen, have male and female flowers on different trees, which appear in the spring before the leaves are out. They are in long, hanging clusters called catkins.
The staminate (male) flowers change colour from grey to purplish as they produce pollen.
The pistillate (female) flowers are on larger catkins. When these are mature, they release seeds which have a fluffy, white “cotton” attached to them.
Hence the name “cottonwood” for some of the poplar species.
The Quaking Aspen has several things going for it in the wild. For one, it is a favourite food for beavers. They will cut down a poplar and then chew up almost every branch into suitable units for eating or storage.
Second, they are a staple in the winter diet of deer. The twigs and buds of poplar are a preferred winter food, and form a high percentage of the deers’ browse.
The third main use is that it acts as a “nurse tree.” If an area of forest is badly burned over, or is clear-cut, one of the first trees to start growing again in the poplar.
They cannot grow in the shade, however.
As soon as the young poplars are well established, other shade-loving trees start to grow underneath them—and eventually take over entirely.
This procedure is known as succession.
Poplars also will thrive in mixed stands for a while. But generally, in a forest which is left alone for a century or so, poplars will occupy the area for only a short period of time.
Poplars are widely used in pulp mills, and also for softwood things like boxes, matches, and the like.
Why the name “quaking?” Because the leaf stems are flattened. The slightest little breeze makes the leaves rustle, so they are rarely quiet.
Some natives called this the “talking tree” or even “woman’s tongue.”
No comment on that.

Posted in Uncategorized