Aspen Populus tremula L.


The aspen is a forest tree, occurring widely throughout the whole of Europe, and extending beyond the Arctic Circle in the north. In central Europe it grows in lowland and on mountains up to and above 1000 metres; it is most plentiful, however, in hill country, coppice forests and forests which are clear-felled.

It reaches heights of 25 to 30 metres and has a sparse, highly placed crown. The bark is smooth and coloured greenish grey, but old trees have fissured blackish bark at the lower part of the trunk. The buds on the twigs are lustrous-brown and sharply pointed. The aspen is a dioecious species (male and female flowers on separate trees). It flowers in March and the tiny seeds, imbedded in cottonwool-like hairs, are shed in late May. The leafstalk is long and flattened, and even a slight breeze sets the leaf in motion. The aspen is a light-demanding tree and docs not require rich soil. The seeds are carried vast distances, thus making this a pioneer tree in clearings, pastures and fallow land. It also propagates well by root suckers. The wood is light, splits easily and is used to make matches, roof shingles and cellulose.

Leaves: Orbicular, 2.5—7 cm long, margin coarsely toothed.

Flowers: Male in brownish-red catkins, female in green catkins. Fruits: Capsules arranged in spikes. Seed: Small, covered with white cottony down.