Featured Plant

Populus Tremuloides - Trembling Aspen

Populus Tremuloides, commonly known as Trembling Aspen or Quaking Aspen, is very common in Manitoba and throughout the Prairies. It is the most widely distributed North American tree species, ranging across Canada, the United States, and Mexico. The common name, Quaking or Trembling Aspen, is derived from the tree’s distinctive rounded triangle-shaped leaves that quiver in even the slightest breeze. 

Due to the bark’s ability to photosynthesize, the Trembling Aspen greets spring early in the season, producing small flowers on long catkins. Aspens grow in stands called clones, and reproduce primarily by growing new sprouts from their roots. This produces genetically identical trees, with identical characteristics that share a root structure. Common characteristics may include leaf shape and size, bark character, branching habits, and autumn leaf colour. 

Populus Tremuloides is fast growing, with a possible height growth of more than 24” per year. Each tree may grow to a height of 40 – 50’ at maturity. Individual aspen trees live 100 – 150 years, and are one of the first trees to grow after a forest fire. According to the Arbor Day Foundation, this tree has restored many forests that man has destroyed and has replenished harvested forests within 50 years. 

The leaves of the Trembling Aspen are eaten by snowshoe hare, deer, and elk. This tree provides a habitat for many species including hare, moose, black bear, elk, and many birds and butterflies. The powdery film on the bark was traditionally used as sunscreen by the Plains Indigenous Peoples. The Okanagan Peoples used this tree to predict storms when the distinct leaves quivered in no perceptible wind. 

The best place to see Populus Tremuloides is in the Assiniboine Forest, on Roblin Blvd., across the street from the park. It can also be seen in forests inside the park, around the steam train on the Western edges of the park, and around the Children’s Garden. This common tree can be seen throughout the province, both inside and outside city limits. 

Arbor Day Foundation | United States Department of Agriculture | Government of British Columbia