Conversations With Trees #16

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Today’s tree:  Quaking Aspen, Populus tremuloides

Photos courtesy of my daughter (Carli), who is in Oregon this weekend apparently enjoying much more blue sky than I am in Western Washington fog.  Her mom’s tree obsession must be wearing off because she just had to send these pics.

Here’s looking at you kid!

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The quaking aspen is surprisingly (to me) in the willow family.  Those tremulous gold leaves are always reminiscent for me of drives through the Four Corners area of the Southwestern United States.

Interestingly the shape of the leaf stem (petiole) causes the leaves to quake with slightest air movement.  The reasons for this are adaptive and described in this great article: Case Study: The Glorious, Golden, and Gigantic Quaking Aspen.

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I had no idea one male aspen’s roots (Pando) are among the oldest known organisms on earth (80,000 years!!) due to its single root system that connects genetic clones spanning a huge alpine area in Fishlake National Forest in Southern Utah. It survives so well because forest fires tend to kill off competing trees and even if individual trees die year to year, the root structure generates new ones.  So the aspen tree can replicate sexually with male/female trees and new seedlings or asexually by root system cloning.  According to Wikipedia, there may be even less studied aspen colonies that could be older and larger.  The aspen is certainly gorgeous in fall and uniquely suited to survive!

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About Erin W

A sensitive plant, bamboo strong.
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