|A stand of aspen showing off the white bark|
|Closer pic of the bark. Note the lack of lower branches|
|A few aspen trees at the edge of a stand. The one on the right has branches|
all the way down it's trunk, but only on the side away from the other trees.
|A thick group of aspens. Note the black scars.|
|Close-up of the tree on the left in the previous picture, showing the eyes|
|Very gnarly trunk. Some full grown trees also had gnarled trunks.|
The leaves of an aspen are fairly small, just a couple of inches long and wide.
|Top side of an aspen leaf. Note the interesting vein structure.|
|Bottom of same leaf, lighter color and very interesting pattern|
|Close-up of lower portion of above photo|
Aspens have the ability to sprout from the roots of an existing tree. In fact, a group of aspen trees may all be related - growing from the roots of the "parent" tree. After a forest fire, aspens can start up again because the root system below ground is still intact. It has been said that all the aspens in a grove can be part of the same organism. That is, their roots are all inter-connected. I read that there is a grove in Utah that is considered one of the largest living things on Earth.
OK, on to woodworking stuff. Though I've never seen it in person (pictures of the long grain and end grain are here), aspen wood seems very similar to what we call poplar in texture and hardness (it's very soft for a "hardwood"). Here's the tough part - what we know of as poplar (or tulip poplar, or yellow poplar - the one with the greenish heartwood) is actually not a true poplar. The true poplars are from the genus populus, which includes the aspen, white poplar and cottonwoods. What we know in America as "poplar" (liriodendron tulipifera), the one that contains the greenish heartwood, is actually in the magnolia family and is not a true poplar.
From what I've found online, aspen is often used as a pulp wood for paper manufacture and its chips are one of the most used in OSB. However it can be used for furniture, but because of its softness it will bruise easily.
Sources for the information presented above include:
- Eric Meier's Wood Database website at https://www.wood-database.com/quaking-aspen/
- The National Park Service's site for Bryce Canyon: https://www.nps.gov/brca/learn/nature/quakingaspen.htm
- Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aspen