Genus Populus, L. (Aspen, Poplar)

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Leaves - simple; alternate; edge sharp-toothed, with rounded hollows between. Outline - rounded. Apex - short, sharp-pointed. Base - slightly heart-shaped. Leaf/Stem - slender and very much flattened sidewise. Leaf - two to two and a half inches wide, and usually about one half inch shorter than wide; dark green; smooth on both sides when mature, with a slight down on the edge. Ribs distinct above and below and whitish. Bark - of trunk, greenish-white and smooth, often with blotches of very dark brown, especially under the ends of the branches. The bark is exceedingly bitter. Found - from Northern Kentucky and the mountains of Pennsylvania northward to Hudson Bay and Newfoundland, northwest to the Arctic Ocean, and along the Rocky Mountain slopes. It is the most widely distributed of North American Trees. General Information - A tree twenty to fifty feet high, with white, soft wood that is largely used in place of rags in making coarse paper. The tremulousness of its foliage, which the slightest breeze stirs, is due to the thinness of the sidewise-flattened leaf-stems. Tradition accounts differently for the motion of the leaves. It says that the wood of the aspen tree was taken for the Saviour’s cross, and that, ever since, the tree has shivered. Another tradition claims that, when Christ went by on his way to Calvary, all the trees sympathized and mourned, excepting the aspen; but when he died, there fell upon the aspen a sudden horror of remorse, and such a fearful trembling as has never passed away. In describing the occupations of the fifty maidens in the hall of the “gorgeous palace” of King Alcinous, Homer says: “...some wove the web, Or twirled the spindle, sitting, with a quick, Light motion like the aspen’s glancing leaves.”


Trees: A


Newhall, Charles S. The Trees of North-Eastern America (New York: The Knickerbocker Press, 1900) 85


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