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Populus tremula

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Salicaceae (Willow)
Deciduous tree
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
24 metres tall
Heathland, parks, towns, woodland.

Green, no petals
Male and female catkins are green, and are borne on different trees. Both male and female catkins look alike, however later on the male catkins become dangly and the females remain firm.
Long hanging conical capsules develop on the catkins.
Deciduous. The stalked leaves of the Aspen are heart-shaped with wavy edges and have whitish undersides. Their shape causes them to shiver and tremble in the wind, giving the tree a distinctive quivering appearance which can be noticed from far away, even with the slightest of breezes. This is how the tree has earned its alternative name of 'trembling poplar'.
Other Names:
American Aspen, Canadian Aspen, Golden Aspen, Mountain Aspen, Popple, Quakies, Quaking Aspen, Quiver-leaf Aspen, Small-toothed Aspen, Trembling Aspen, Trembling Poplar, White Poplar.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Populus tremula, also known as European aspen or trembling aspen, is a deciduous tree that is native to Europe and Asia. It belongs to the willow family and is known for its small, greenish flowers and heart-shaped leaves that tremble in the wind. Populus tremula is a medium-sized tree that can reach heights of up to 50 feet (15 meters) and is often used as a street tree or in landscaping. It is easy to grow and is tolerant of a wide range of soil types and climates. Populus tremula prefers full sun and is drought-tolerant once established. The tree is generally hardy and low maintenance, but it can be prone to pests such as aphids and aspen borers. Populus tremula is also known for its medicinal properties and has been used traditionally to treat a variety of ailments. However, more research is needed to fully understand its effects and to determine the safety and effectiveness of using it medicinally.


Aspens, scientifically known as Populus tremula, are a species of tree that are native to the Northern Hemisphere. They are known for their unique leaves that quiver and tremble in the wind, giving the tree its common name.

One of the most notable characteristics of aspens is their ability to reproduce through a process called "suckering." This means that new trees can sprout from the root system of an existing tree, creating a group of trees known as a "clone." In fact, some of the largest living organisms on Earth are aspen clones, with some spanning over 100 acres and thought to be thousands of years old.

In terms of physical appearance, aspens have a smooth, white bark and leaves that are typically about 2-4 inches long. The leaves are triangular in shape and have small, rounded teeth along the edges. Aspens are deciduous trees, meaning they lose their leaves in the fall, and they typically grow to be around 50-80 feet tall.

Aspens are found in a variety of climates and habitats, but they are most commonly found in cool, moist areas with well-drained soil. They are often found in forests, but they can also be found in open meadows and along streams and rivers. They are also tolerant of a wide range of soil types and can grow in sandy, rocky, or clay soils.

One of the most popular uses of aspens is as a decorative tree in landscaping. They are often used as a focal point in gardens and parks because of their unique leaves and the fact that they turn a beautiful golden yellow in the fall. Aspens are also used for timber and paper production.

Aspens are also known to play an important role in the ecosystem. They provide food and shelter for a variety of wildlife, including birds, deer, and elk. The leaves and twigs of aspens are a primary food source for many species of deer and elk, while the bark and wood provide shelter for small mammals and birds. Additionally, aspens help to stabilize soil and prevent erosion, making them an important component of the ecosystem in riparian areas.

Another interesting aspect of aspens is their role in reforestation. Because of their ability to reproduce through suckering, aspens are often used in reforestation efforts in areas that have been affected by logging or wildfire. They are able to establish quickly and provide a canopy for other species to grow under.

Aspens also have a deep cultural significance. They are an important part of the folklore and mythology of many indigenous cultures. For example, the Ojibwe people of North America believe that aspens are the "tree of life" and that they have healing properties.

In recent years, there has been concern about the decline of aspen populations in many areas. This is largely due to human activities such as logging, development, and fire suppression. Climate change is also thought to be a factor, with rising temperatures and changing precipitation patterns making it more difficult for aspens to survive. In light of these threats, conservation efforts have been put in place to protect and preserve aspen populations.

Another important aspect of aspens is their ability to adapt to different environments and conditions. Aspens are able to tolerate a wide range of soil types and can grow in sandy, rocky, or clay soils. They are also able to tolerate a wide range of temperatures, making them well-suited to a variety of climates. This adaptability is one of the reasons why they are so widely distributed across the Northern Hemisphere.

Aspens have also been found to have medicinal properties. The bark of the aspen tree contains salicin, which is a precursor to salicylic acid, the active ingredient in aspirin. Salicin has been used for centuries to reduce pain and fever, and to treat headaches and other ailments. Additionally, the leaves of the aspen tree have been used in traditional medicine to treat skin conditions and other ailments.

Aspens are also an important part of many recreational activities. They are a popular destination for hiking and camping, and they are also a popular spot for wildlife viewing. Aspens are also often used as a backdrop for outdoor photography, thanks to their unique leaves and the fact that they turn a beautiful golden yellow in the fall.

In conclusion, aspens are a unique and valuable species of tree that play an important role in the ecosystem, reforestation, cultural significance and medicinal properties. They are adaptable to different environments and conditions and are popular for recreational activities. However, aspen populations are declining and conservation efforts should be put in place to protect and preserve them.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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