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Quaking Aspen
Populus tremuloides
About Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides) Nurseries Show All Photos Populus tremuloides is a deciduous tree native to cooler areas of North America. The species is referred to as Quaking Aspen, Trembling Aspen, and Quakies, names deriving from its leaves which flutter in even a slight breeze. The tree can become tall, up to 25 meters, but is more often half that height, 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 clonal groves. The quaking or trembling of the leaves is due to its flattened petioles. The specific epithet, tremuloides, is given for this trembling characteristic. 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 many parts of North America. In California it is most common in the Sierras and other high elevation mountains. Nurseries usually sell only male plants because female plants can produce large amounts of cottony seeds. Unless you have acreage, use caution in planting this tree because it will send out suckers long distances to quickly form a dense grove that will fill in any moist area. There are usually few understory plants in Quaking Aspen groves.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
40 - 82 ft (12.2 - 25 m)

Rounded, Upright Columnar

Growth Rate

Winter Deciduous

Flower Color
Blue, Cream, Yellow, Red

Flowering Season

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Streamsides, moist openings and slopes at higher elevations

Sun, Part Shade

Elevation ?
151' - 12709'

Annual Precip. ?
6.9" - 99.1"

Summer Precip. ?
0.28" - 3.57"

Coldest Month ?
19.3° F - 48.8° F

Hottest Month ?
41.1° F - 78.3° F

Humidity ?
0.04 vpd - 27.02 vpd

Soil Description
Tolerates a variety of soils as adequate moisture is present

Soil PH
5.0 - 8.0


Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to -10° F

Sunset Zones ?
1*, 2*, 3, 4*, 5*, 6*, 7*, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18*, 19, 20, 21

Companion Plants
This tree has few garden companions due to its tendency to spread. However, given a large enough area it could be planted with other mountain species

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Very Easy

Water Requirement ?
Moderate - High
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Rarely Used

Max. Summer Water ?
1/week, Keep moist
No Summer Water
Keep moist

Quaking Aspen can be sheared to form a hedge or screen

Propagation ?
For propagating by seed: No treatment. Use fresh seeds, usually viable only a few days. Seeds should not be covered or pressed into medium; seedbed should be kept saturated for first mo. Easily propagated from stem cuttings.

Common uses
Bank Stabilization, Butterfly Gardens

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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