Monday, October 1, 2012

A Symphony of Aspens

 I've been fortunate to have had the opportunity to hike a lot this autumn, and the brilliant quaking aspens have been breathtaking. This tree, the most widespread in North America, has a magical quality about it that makes me feel like a smiling kid. The scientific name is Populus tremuloides, roughly translated as trembling aspen. The flattened petiole (the portion that attaches the leaf to the twig) allows the leaves to move quite freely, making a wonderful sound as wind passes through the tree. I could listen to the dancing leaves all day.

 Aspens usually turn yellow, but sometimes they turn orange or red. Most aspens don't grow by seed, but rather by a root system that sends new shoots up close by. These shoots are actually clones, and each group of clones turns color at the same time. In the fall, you can sometimes spot the different clones just by the color changes. Those clones can get quite old--the oldest one, Pando, growing on about 100 acres in Utah, is estimated to be 80,000 years old!

  Even better than hiking in aspen is hiking in aspen with a light cover of snow on the ground!

 I really enjoy finding oddly-shaped aspen trees. I wonder what happened to them to make them grow in that manner.

 This stand is absolutely gorgeous, but really hard to photograph. A whole hillside looks like it's on fire.

 Some of the colors of aspen leaves.

 I need to camp here some day.

I think I'm ready to head back outside!


John Mosley said...

Alica said...


jendoop said...

Gorgeous! My girls and I love aspens, one of the many things we miss about Utah. When we visit we always drive from Provo, through the Aspen Loop to Heber to get a shake at Granny's.

Sandy said...

Great photos. looks like some awesome trails.

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