Common Tree Species of the Northwest Forest






Terminology | Pictorial

Populus tremuloides
Trembling Aspen
Salicaceae (Willow Family)

The trembling aspen is the most widely distributed tree in North America. It is known by many names: quaking aspen, golden aspen, mountain aspen, poplar and trembling poplar.


General - medium to large-sized averaging 21 m (70 ft) high, broadleaved hardwood. Crown relatively small, diffuse. Branches spreading. Trunk upright with little taper, usually branchless below the crown. Branchlets slender, reddy-brown often with a gray waxy film. Buds conical, reddy-brown, terminal bud, they may be slightly resinous. Bark smooth, creamy yellowish-white to very light green on young trees. Later developing thick furrows and becoming dark, especially near the base.

Trembling Aspen Leaves - alternate, simple, 2.5 - 7.5 cm (1 - 3 in) long, green above and paler below, heart-shaped to nearly round with a fine toothed margin, petiole is flattened.

Flowers - dioecious, male and female hanging catkins 1 to 3 inches long.

Fruit - catkin 5 - 10 cm (2 - 4 in) long, with attached light green capsules which contain many small hairy seeds.


Widely spread throughout Northwestern Ontario in a great variety of soil conditions ranging from shallow and rocky to deep fresh, coarse loamy sands and heavy clays. The trembling aspen is a major component of the boreal forest in association with a variety of species in mixed stands.

Shrub species commonly associated with quaking aspen include beaked hazel, mountain maple, speckled alder, bush honeysuckle, raspberries and blackberries.

Herbs characteristic of quaking aspen stands include large leaved aster, wild sarsaparilla, bunchberry and fragrant bedstraw.


The light, soft wood has very little shrinkage and high grades of aspen are used for lumber and wooden matches. Aspen makes particularly good sauna benches and playground structures because the wood surface does not splinter. Most aspen wood goes into pulp and flake-board, however. Many kinds of wildlife also benefit from this tree.

More Information - Commercial Profiles for Northwestern Ontario Tree Species.

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