Aspen trees are deciduous and flowering trees belonging to the genus Populus. Aspens are characterized by their straight, slender trunks, round leaves, and clusters of dangling flower spikes called catkins, which are seen in the different types of aspen trees.
As a member of the Populus family, aspens are related to cottonwood trees and poplars. Aspen trees have a fast growth rate and can increase in height to around 2 ft. (60 cm) per year. The cold environment where aspens grow doesn’t affect their development which makes them live between 40 and 150 years. However, their spreading rhizome root system can live for thousands of years. As older, mature trees die, suckers sprout, and new trees grow.
Aspen leaves are smooth and glossy green, round, with a pointed tip, and grow about 1.5” to 3” (4 – 7.5 cm) across. Some aspen species have oval leaves with toothed or slightly lobed margins. The rounded aspen leaves attach to branches by flattened stems (petioles). In the fall, aspen tree leaves turn spectacularly golden yellow, orange, or bronzy-red.
Aspen trees are a popular addition to landscapes in Canada and the northern parts of the United States. The trees are beautiful with white bark and leaves that turn a striking shade of yellow in the autumn, but they can be finicky in a few different ways.
Aspen trees in landscapes usually only live between 5 and 15 years. This is usually due to pests and diseases, which can be a real problem and sometimes have no treatment. Aspens have large underground root systems that continually put up new suckers that will grow into large trunks if they have the space and the sunlight.
If you see several aspens growing near each other, odds are good that they’re all parts of the same organism. These root systems are a fascinating element of the aspen tree. They allow the trees to survive forest fires and other above-ground problems. They are stunning trees and will make anyone stop and admire their beauty. They grow up to 40 to 60 feet in size. The tree has a rounded canopy over a width of 30 feet.
They are widely popular in North America and are mostly found around mountains or national parks. They have an array of benefits and contribute positively to the environment. The foliage (leaves) of an aspen tree consists of long stems with a round shape. They move in light winds because of their size. While the bark can be furrowed and rough with a gray shade, on the bigger-sized specimens.
The majority of the trees also develop a bark with a whitish or greenish color. The thin bark contains several bumpy black patches. The huge bloom of the flowers contains many tiny little seeds with small hairs. They blossom around March and April before the leaves start to appear.
10 Types of Aspen Trees
All types of aspen trees are a beautiful and quite popular addition to the landscape in the northern United States and some regions of Canada. They are characterized by their gorgeous white bark and stunning yellow leaves in autumn, belonging to the genus Populus. Down below, we will discuss the common types of aspen trees you are most likely to find and everything you need to know about these beautiful trees. which includes the following:
- Korean aspen (Populus davidiana)
- Quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides)
- Common/European aspen (Populus tremula)
- Chinese Aspen Tree (Populus Adenopada)
- Big tooth Aspen Tree
- Trembling Aspens
- Swedish Aspen (Populus Tremula ‘Erecta’).
- Japanese aspen (Populus Sieboldii).
- Growing American Aspen
- Grey Poplar
1. Korean Aspen (Populus Davidiana)
The Korean aspen tree originated in Asia and has green, orbicular-shaped leaves and smooth, grayish-white bark. They reach up to 25–30 meters, with their trunk being approximately 60 cm in diameter. The trees grow best in well-drained and moisture-rich soils.
They have barks of hues ranging from green, grey, and white, and are smooth in most of the areas, except the basal part which is a bit rough. Their barks are mostly of a lighter color and their branches are of darker shades, such as brown or red.
Korean aspens have sharp-edged, traditional triangular, kind of toothed leaves, which becomes their distinguishing factor. The lush foliage forms a rounded crown on the aspen tree. Long dangling flowers appear before the leaves, and then tiny cottony seeds appear in early summer.
Leaves on Korean aspen trees have a broadly rounded base and a thin, pointed tip. The aspen leaves are red when immature, then turn green before becoming golden yellow in the fall. Like all aspen tree leaves, their rounded blades have finely-serrated margins.
The Korean aspen is used for timber, fuel wood, and paper production. The tree is also used in traditional Korean medicine. The Korean aspen is classified as an endangered species by the IUCN. The population of the tree has declined due to deforestation and over-exploitation.
Conservation efforts are underway to protect the remaining population of the Korean aspen. These efforts include planting new trees, establishing protected areas, and educating the public about the importance of trees. The Korean aspen is an important part of Korea’s cultural and natural heritage. The tree is a symbol of strength and perseverance. The Korean people have a deep respect for the tree and its many uses.
2. Quaking Aspen Tree (Populus Tremuloides)
The name for the quaking aspen came from the sounds of its leaves, which make a crackling or quaking noise when the wind blows. The quaking aspen tree is the most popular type of aspen, scientifically referred to as “Popular tremuloides.” The quaking aspen tree is the main species of aspen growing in North America. Quaking aspen trees grow between 20 and 80 ft. (6 – 24 m) tall and around 20 ft (6 m) wide.
Like all aspens, the quaking aspen tree has a long, slender whitish trunk with black blotches. Rounded shiny green leaves dangling from long petioles form a rounded crown. From a distance, quaking aspen tree foliage has a pyramidal growth habit.
The bark of these trees is gray to greenish-white in color with a relatively smooth texture. Black horizontal markings are found all over the trunk, along with dense black knots. Like the many types of elm trees, these grow very tall and wide as they mature.
Unlike most other trees belonging to the same genus, Quaking Aspen trees do not have pointed leaves with outward-pointing teeth. Instead, they have rounded-edge leaves. As a result, the leaves change color from a vibrant green in the summer to a striking yellow in the fall. Quaking aspen is considered an ornamental and low-maintenance tree.
This aspen tree grows fast and thrives in a variety of environmental conditions. However, you will struggle to remove unwanted sprouts from the Quaking Aspen tree. In residential landscapes, quaking aspens only live for about 50 years.
However, putting their beauty aside, they may pose severe threats to drainage pipes and sewers due to their root network and root suckering. One of the most interesting things about quaking aspens is that they can reproduce asexually.
A single tree can produce thousands of clones of itself through root suckers. When aspen dies, its root system often continues to live on and send up new shoots. This allows a single aspen tree to live for hundreds, or even thousands, of years.
The quaking aspen is the most widely distributed tree in North America and can be found in every Canadian province and US state. The quaking aspen is an important tree in North American ecosystems.
The tree provides food and shelter for a variety of animals, including bears, deer, rodents, and birds. Quaking aspens are also an important source of wood for humans.
3. Common/European Aspen Tree (Populus tremula)
The European aspen tree is famous aspen tree species all over the world since it has spread globally. It is also known as “Populus Tremula,” one of the most geographically diverse and spotted varieties of aspen trees. Native to Northwestern Europe, Siberia, and Africa, this aspen has spread globally to Japan and the Arctic region.
Their bark has a silvery gray color with a nice and smooth texture, and with age, diamond-shaped pores appear on the bark. Like the Quaking Aspen, they tremble and flutter even in the slightest presence of wind. The European aspen tree has round, flattened green leaves with a coarsely serrated margin.
It can be identified by their smooth pale, greenish-gray bark, broad crown, and dangling flowers on bare branches in springtime. Like the quaking aspen tree, European aspen leaves flutter and tremble in gentle breezes. European aspen trees are giant Populus trees growing up to 130 ft. (40 m) tall and 33 ft. (10 m) wide.
You can tell European aspens apart from the other common aspens due to their rounded leaves that don’t have a pronounced tip. The constant rustling of leaves can be heard for miles even if the trees are not visible. The leaves on the European Aspen have a rounded edge and are coarsely toothed, and measure around 3 inches in length.
These aspen tree varieties start with a copper-bronze color. They slowly mature into gray-green-like certain types of hemlock trees until finally turning into a spectacular shade of yellow in autumn.
The leaves on European aspen trees have coarsely toothed blades with a circular shape at the end of flattened petioles. The broad leaves measure around 3” (7 cm) long. Like other types of aspen, the leaves dance and flutter in gentle breezes making a rustling noise.
Much like the quaking aspen, they have round-shaped leaves with edgy margins that flutter in the wind. Their fall foliage consists of copperish brown shades in springtime and gets green or yellow in autumn.
4. Chinese Aspen Tree (Populus Adenopada)
Chinese aspen trees are one valuable species of trees and one of the primary raw materials used to process furniture and house construction work. The pulp and timber are exceptionally rigid, making them an excellent material for making wooden tools. The Chinese aspen tree is different than other aspen tree varieties with its smoother and egg-shaped aspen leaves
As it can be deduced from the name, the Chinese Aspen “Populus Adenopada” tree is a medium to large deciduous flowering tree with smooth, grayish-white bark and smooth, ovate leaves native to China. The aspen grows in mountainous regions, growing best in moisture-rich soil.
This aspen species grows up to 100-900 ft. Like many aspens, the Chinese aspen bark becomes gray, rough, and fissured as the tree matures. These flowering deciduous trees are characterized by pale-grey tree bark. The leaves have a smoother texture than other aspen leaves and are egg-shaped. The bark of this tree is known to turn darker grey with a rough surface when it ages.
The color content of the leaves in Chinese Aspen trees includes bright shades of green that pop out vibrantly under sunlight. While circular leaf borders contain microscopic edges, other kinds of Chinese Aspen have rectangular leaf petals with rounded edges. As a result, the green shades convert into warm yellow tones over time when fall comes.
The Chinese aspen tree is an important species in the Chinese forest, it serves many uses, such as supplying of wood for furniture and construction purposes. The leaves of the tree are used in traditional Chinese medicine.
The tree also provides a habitat for many animals and birds, and the leaves are an important food source for grazing animals such as deer and goats. The wood of the Chinese aspen tree is also used in a variety of traditional crafts such as basket-making and wood carving. The Chinese aspen tree is a valuable species that plays an essential role in the ecology of China.
5. Big tooth Aspen Tree (Populus Grandidentata)
The big tooth aspen tree also known as “Populus Grandidentata” or the Big tooth Aspen (can also be called Large tooth Aspen and American Aspen) originates from North-Central America and Southeastern Canada. They are not as geographically well spread as the Quaker and European Aspen and are also less adaptable.
Grandis denotes “large,” and data means “toothed,” which is self-explanatory when looking at their leaves. The bigtooth aspen tree has a large oval to ovate dull green leaves with irregular serrations along the margins. Bigtooth aspen tree trunk bark is smooth and thin with an olive-green color.
The aspen bark develops a rough, dark-gray texture with deep vertical fissures. They have thin barks with a smooth texture when they are young. The bark turns from light olive green to a more mature gray upon maturity, while the bark grows rough with grooves and knots.
The wood from this tree is fine-grained and has a light shade. It is also straight-textured and soft. They can be used for structural panels and particle boards but are more commonly used for wood pulp. Bigtooth aspen trees grow between 60 and 80 ft. (18 – 24 m) tall. Bigtooth aspen trees can be recognized by their irregular, narrow rounded crown and straight trunks. You can tell bigtooth aspens apart from quaking aspens by their larger leaves.
Bigtooth aspens only live for between 50 and 70 years. For the first 30 years, the aspen’s tree trunk is covered with smooth bark before the rough grooves develop. These trees are limited in growth as compared to other trees. They prefer sandy soil and grow well in flooded plains. Bigtooth aspens reproduce both vegetatively by rooting and sexually by seed. They are shade-intolerant and require full sun to grow well.
The bigtooth aspen is an important food source for a variety of animals, including bears, deer, rabbits, squirrels, and beavers. Their wood is fine-grained and soft in texture and used for making chopsticks, cricket bats, log homes, construction, flooring, furniture, and paper.
6. Trembling Aspens
Trembling aspen is also species of deciduous tree in the poplar family. They are very similar to Quaking aspen, but there are some key differences between them. Which are Quaking aspen are native to North America, while trembling aspen is native to Europe and Asia.
Quaking aspen grows to be about 50-70 feet tall, while trembling aspen is typically smaller, only reaching 30-40 feet in height. The leaves of quaking aspen are slightly larger than those of trembling aspen, and the leaf margins have more rounded teeth.
Trembling aspen leaves are attached to the tree with slightly longer stems, which gives them a less quivering appearance. Quaking aspen gets its name from the way its leaves tremble or “quake” in the wind. This is due to the flattened stems that attach the leaves to the tree.
Both trembling aspen and quaking aspen is popular trees for landscaping and are often used in forestry projects. They are both fast-growing and relatively easy to care for. However, quaking aspen is more tolerant of cold weather and can be found in higher elevations than trembling aspen.
7. Swedish Aspen (Populus Tremula ‘Erecta’)
The Swedish aspen tree is a cultivar of the European aspen (Populus tremula). It is a fast-growing, deciduous tree that reaches a height of 50–70 feet (15–21 meters). The leaves are ovate, with a pointed tip and serrated margins.
The upper surface of the leaf is green, while the lower surface is pale green or yellow-green. The tree produces small, greenish-yellow flowers in early spring. The fruit is a capsule with two seeds inside.
The Swedish aspen is a hardy tree that can tolerate cold winters and hot summers. It prefers full sun but can also grow in partial shade. The tree is tolerant of drought and clay soils. Swedish aspens have a short lifespan, having lifespan of 20–40 years. However, they can reproduce vegetatively, by sending out root suckers. This allows them to form clones of themselves, which can live for centuries.
Swedish aspen trees are found in Europe, but they have been introduced to North America and other parts of the world. In North America, they are often used as ornamental trees in gardens and parks.
8. Japanese Aspen Tree (Populus Sieboldii)
Japanese aspen trees are one of the famous types of aspen trees with their beautiful oval-shaped leaves. Japanese Aspen trees, also known by the scientific name “Populus Sieboldii,” are aspen trees that are famous for their oval-shaped leaves with pointy ends that make up their beautiful foliage. These trees are particularly found in Japan’s mountains and grow in damp and heavy soil. They do not grow well in upland regions.
Japanese aspens grow best in moisture-rich soil and damp conditions. They do not extend to their full potential in sunny areas. When you find them growing among a forest of various types of cedar trees, you’ll find them along the edges where they can enjoy the partial shade.
As for its uses, Japanese aspen tree extracts are used as a plant hormone for other trees. In addition, wood from Japanese Aspen is lowlily flammable, making them an excellent material for making tools and other similar textured things.
The Japanese aspen tree grows at a rapid rate and reaches a maximum height of 65 ft. (20 m). The features of the Populus sieboldii are foliage made up of flat, rounded-toothed leaves and smooth grayish-white bark. Because of its spreading, invasive roots, it’s best not to plant Japanese aspen trees within 40 ft. (12 m) of a building.
The strong aspen roots can damage foundations and sewer lines. However, while Japanese Aspen has its beauty and traits, planting it around city buildings is not wise since the roots can climb up its walls.
They have many uses such as the use of their shoots’ extracts for cuttings, it can be used as ornamental trees in gardens and parks. The tree’s wood is soft and wooly and has low flammability, making it ideal for use in paper production.
9. Growing American Aspen
This aspen tree thrives in USDA zones 2 through 8. It has a fast-growing rate when planted in full sun. It grows best in rich, well-draining soil and should be moist.
10. Grey Poplar
The grey poplar is a natural hybrid of the aspen and the white poplar. It has characteristics of both species and produces fertile seeds, which is rare in hybrid species. Adult trees can reach heights of 20 to 30 meters. The grey poplar (Populus canescens) belongs to the Salicaceae family. It gets its name from the grayish, downy coating on the underside of its young leaves.
This species has a massive silhouette, with a wide and rounded crown, which is not the case for its cousin, the classic white poplar. Its bark is whitish with black lines and gradually cracks over time. Its leaves, deciduous and pubescent, may differ in an appearance on the same tree, whether oval or rounded, crenate or a little lobed. Its young branches are also pubescent. It has male and female catkins, which measure from 3 to 4 centimeters and appear in March-April. Its buds are ovoid.
This rather uncommon tree is found in a variety of locations, either spontaneously or planted, throughout Europe, from the Atlantic coast to western Russia. In France, it is mostly found in the Northeast, along water courses, and in humid, shady forests.
The gray poplar adapts to all types of soil and withstands cold weather. It prefers to grow in full light in a humid environment. The gray poplar grows quickly, and its elegant crown makes it a tree used for ornamental purposes in some cities. Its lightweight, white wood is especially used to produce crates used in markets.
In the several types of aspen trees discussed above, Each type has unique characteristics that make it special. Aspen trees are a beautiful part of nature and provide many benefits to the environment. If you’re looking for a tree to plant in your yard, consider an aspen. You won’t be disappointed!
10 Types of Aspen Trees-FAQs
Where do Aspen trees grow?
Aspen trees are popular in different parts of the world, especially areas with cold climates and hilly landscapes such as Asia, Europe, and Africa, and they are mostly distributed in all of North America, growing in Alaska and Canada down to Mexico.
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Ahamefula Ascension is a Real Estate Consultant, Data Analyst, and Content writer. He is the founder of Hope Ablaze Foundation and a Graduate of Environmental Management in one of the prestigious colleges in the country. He is obsessed with Reading, Research and Writing.