Aspen is a group of trees that are renowned for producing beautiful yellow fall foliage, quacking leaves, and lofty grey trunks. Known for their beauty, these aspen trees are found rare in the world. These trees are filled with flickering foliage during the summer season. Aspen trees are of the genus Populus. Based on the variety, aspen trees can be found in a wide range of locations, covering North America, Asia, and Europe. Due to their flat branchlets, Aspen trees are called quacking or trembling trees as the leaves of this plant quiver as the wind blows. Some of the well-known species of the Aspen trees are:
- Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloids)
- Chinese Aspen (Populus adenopoda)
- Japanese Aspen (Populus sieboldii)
- Eurasian Aspen (Populus tremula)
- Bigtooth Aspen (Populus grandigrandidentata)
- Korean Aspen (Populus davidiana)
Aspen trees are most typically found in coniferous forest environments, where they compete with conifers for resources. Aspens, on the other hand, have been thriving in frigid climates with chilly summers due to their remarkable adaptability.
Some of the features of an aspen tree are as follows:
- The Aspen tree has got flattened leaves. These leaves tend to decrease the air pressure put on the branches.
- The Aspen tree has a strong root system.
- In some of the Aspen trees, lenticels have been found on their bark. These lenticels help in the exchange of gaseous substances like stomata at the surface of the leaves.
- During the shedding of the Aspen tree, its branches perform the photosynthesis process and prepare enough food for the whole plant.
Specifications of the Aspen Trees
- The Aspen trees may reach upto a height of 15-30 meters.
- The color of the bark of these trees is greenish-grey or simply grey. The barks of the Aspen tree are renowned for possessing diamond-shaped lenticels.
- The leaves of this tree have a long stem with flattened petioles. Because of their lightweight, these trees move in the heavy wind.
- Aspen trees’ leaves are 2.5-6 centimeters long. These leaves have sharp and blunt edges or ends.
- The Aspen trees grow in a colony. All the trees of this kind have identical genes.
- Aspen trees reproduce by vegetative propagation.
- The individual clone of the Aspen tree is called Ramet.
- Ramet consists of a Rhizomatic root system.
- Ramet or individual clones can live upto 10,000 years or even more.
- Having a long lifespan of 40-150 years, it has a history of its existence from the previous 80,000 years.
- The rhizomatic roots of these trees play a vital role in partial immortality.
- Aspen trees can grow fast and it has a deciduous plant system.
- Aspen trees roots can survive for years-long even when the tree on the ground dies.
- These trees start producing new ramets when there are no old parent plants of their species.
Root System of the Aspen Tree
Sucking and Rhizomatic subterranean root systems are found in aspen plants. These trees’ roots have helped them live for hundreds of years. Since the shoots of these trees develop from both the trunk and the roots, the roots of the Aspen tree can be very beneficial to the plant. A tree of this kind never dies as these roots can reproduce new Ramets or clones. It also allows the foliage to live for many years. Due to its extensive nature, the roots of the Aspen tree are excellent at avoiding soil erosion. Aspen tree root spreading is primarily a survival strategy performed by the plant in unfavorable environmental conditions or scarcity of groundwater. Hence, it is advised not to plant Aspen trees in the gardens because it can damage the concrete sidewalks or their nearby plants.
Root System of a Quacking Aspen Tree
Recognized by its scientific name, Populus tremuloids, Quacking Aspen is a Populus genus species. The tiny hooked leaves of the Quacking Aspen cause the plant to shake in light gusts. Hence it has got its name as Trembling or Quacking Aspen tree. These trees are commonly found in North America and in some parts of Canada and Central Mexico. This tree is known as a ‘state tree’ in Utah, North America. Quacking Aspen has an adventitious root system. The formation of the new buds takes place from these adventitious roots of the tree. Known for its shallow roots, the Quacking Aspen can penetrate the soil upto a distance of only 10-12 inches.
Quaking Aspens have a tendency to produce genetically similar progeny from the shoots that emerge from their roots. This is accomplished by their capacity to reproduce asexually, which rarely results in a vast swath of ground being covered by a shared root system. The potential of Quaking Aspen roots to produce Ramets has resulted in the production of Pando Aspen, a unique clonal colony of genetically coded individuals that developed from one Quaking Aspen parent male. Pado Aspen is among America’s forty ‘Wonders of the World.’ This is due to a variety of factors.
Root System of Pando Aspen
Pando Aspen also referred to as Trembling Giant, is a large wooded area occupied by a single male Quaking Aspen. These trees are mostly genetically similar and can be found in the Fremont River Ranger District of the Fishlake National Forest, which is situated on the western side of the Colorado Plateau in Utah. Pando is a unicellular organism that has spent several years surviving on a particular subterranean root system.
The roots of the Quaking Aspen develop parallel to each other, and the root shoots emerge from the main root. When necessary, the branches also arise horizontally out from roots. The shoots/branches seem to be new individuals from above the earth, yet they actually stem from the very same plant. The shot expands in size and takes on the appearance of a new tree, making it tough to distinguish from the parent tree and the shoots. As a result, as previously stated, even though the parent plant dies, the Quaking Aspen’s roots live on and spread their foliage. This is the situation with Pando Aspen, however, only the root of this tree has survived for over a million years and has sustained the plant.
Existence of the Pando Aspen Trees
Pando Aspen derived its name from the Latin word “I spread”. Pando Aspen’s existence on this earth began as early as 80,000 years ago. Hence, people often call this tree the oldest living organism on the earth. Known for its weight, this plant is the heaviest on the earth, weighing upto 60,000 kilograms. During the British era, this plant was known to have occupied the largest land, of approx 107 acres. This tree was discovered by a scientist researcher, Burton V. Barnes, in 1968. Later, in the year 1992, it was named Pando Aspen by the University of Colorado in Boulder.
The Situation of the Pando Aspen Trees Now
Pando Aspen, on the other hand, is becoming a cause of worry, as study has discovered that the roots have quit developing for the past 40 to 50 years. It has been about 10,000 years when it last bloomed in full bloom. The Pando nowadays is dying, and human interference is mentioned as the primary cause. Animals grazing around the grove are also destroying the fresh buds, preventing the shoots from emerging from the ground. Another factor is the prevention of wildfires. The subsurface roots of the Pando withstood each fire and grew new stems in the aftermath of each wildfire, which is another purpose why the Pando has made it out alive for so long. While forest fires decimate their contenders, the underground roots of the Pando withstood each fire and sent up new stems in the aftermath of each wildfire. However, due to fire suppression, the Pando Aspen species have increased.