While we’re all social distancing, here is an organism that thrives on its connectivity. Like the aspen, we look forward to the days when we can all gather around together—in our case sitting by the campfire, circling up for a square dance, or enjoying a glass of wine with friends. Check out these fun facts about aspen trees:
One of the most interesting things about Aspens is that “a stand or group of aspen trees is considered a singular organism with the main life force underground in the extensive root system” (Tree Profile).
This networking between trees happens early in life and “before a single aspen trunk appears above the surface, the root system may lie dormant for many years until the conditions are just right, including sufficient sunlight. In a single stand, each tree is a genetic replicate of the other, hence the name a “clone” of aspens used to describe a stand” (Tree Profile).
Another key trait of the Aspen tree is that Aspens grow all the time—even in winter. Aspens can do this because beneath the thin layer of white bark, there is a green photosynthetic layer. This layer is important because it facilitates sugar creation and in turn growth during the months that other trees usually stand dormant. This green layer also provides necessary nutrients for deer and elk during summer months where their food supply is scarce. “Throughout the year, young aspens provide food for a variety of animals including moose, black bear, beaver, porcupine, ruffed grouse and rodents.” (Tree Profile).
If you’re looking for the best time to come see the Aspens changing September is a great time! But keep in mind the aspens are beautiful all year. In the summer they are brilliant green and the leaves almost clap when the breeze blows through them. Come winter they are stark and dramatic with leaves gone and the eyes of the trees so distinctly in view.