How to identify an aspen tree

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Easy Tree ID > Tree Profiles > How to identify an aspen tree

how to identify an aspen tree

How do you identify an aspen tree?

Wondering if you are looking at an aspen tree? Your clues are their leaves, buds, catkins and bark. Here’s what they look like at-a-glance:

aspen leaf
aspen buds
aspen catkin
aspen bark

Aspen tree facts

Hello! In today’s guide we are going to learn how to identify an aspen tree. Are you ready? Let’s get started! Here are a few aspen facts:

  • Common name: Aspen – Common, European, Quaking
  • Latin name: Populus tremula
  • Family: Saliaceae

Aspen trees can grow up to 25 meters. They often live in colonies, with individual trunks living up to 50 years and the main trunk and root system living for up to 150 years. They prefer to grow in moist, sunny, well-drained soil along rivers and open woodlands.

aspen leaf

Aspen leaves

Aspen leaves have a rounded shape, with wavy margins and a soft, blueish colour. The leaf stalk is flattened from the side, so they tremble and shake even in the slightest breeze. In the autumn, its leaves turn vibrant yellow.

aspen buds

Aspen buds

Their buds are pointed and lie close to the twig. Their scales spiral up the bud.

aspen catkin

Aspen catkins

Male catkins have soft, white down and red anthers growing from brown husks. Female catkins produce green seeds with a soft, white down.

aspen bark

Aspen bark

The bark on young trees is smooth, silver and covered in dark, diamond-shaped lenticles.

Aspen tree uses

  • Medicinal – Aspen is traditionally used for treating arthritic pain and inflammation
  • Dyes – Its leaves produce deep yellow or olive-green dyes.
  • Bushcraft -The dead inner bark is great for tinder and kindling.
  • Wildlife – Aspens are home to rare dark-bordered beauty moths, endangered aspen hoverflies and aspen bracket fungus.
  • Industry – Aspen wood is strong but very easy to carve.
  • Environment – A pioneer species, aspens are dioecious, rarely flower and instead propagate by generating underground suckers, forming a colony of interconnected trees.
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