Populus tremula

Populus tremula, commonly called aspen, common aspen, Eurasian aspen, European aspen, or quaking aspen,[2] is a species of poplar native to cool temperate regions of Europe and Asia, from Iceland[3] and the British Isles[4] east to Kamchatka, north to inside the Arctic Circle in Scandinavia and northern Russia, and south to central Spain, Turkey, the Tian Shan, North Korea, and northern Japan. It also occurs at one site in northwest Africa in Algeria. In the south of its range, it occurs at high altitudes in mountains.[5][6]

The English name Waverly, meaning "quaking aspen", is both a surname and unisex given name.

Populus tremula
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Malpighiales
Family: Salicaceae
Genus: Populus
Section: Populus sect. Populus
P. tremula
Binomial name
Populus tremula
Populus tremula range
Distribution map


Adult leaves (left); juvenile and sucker leaves (right)

It is a substantial deciduous tree growing to 40 metres (130 ft) tall by 10 m (33 ft) broad, with a trunk attaining over 1 metre (3 ft 3 in) in diameter.[7] The bark is pale greenish-grey and smooth on young trees with dark grey diamond-shaped lenticels, becoming dark grey and fissured on older trees.

The adult leaves, produced on branches of mature trees, are nearly round, slightly wider than long, 2–8 cm (1–3 in) diameter, with a coarsely toothed margin and a laterally flattened petiole 4–8 cm (2–3 in) long. The flat petiole allows them to tremble in even slight breezes, and is the source of its scientific name,[7] as well as one of its vernacular names "langues de femmes" attributed to Gerard's 17th-century Herball. The leaves on seedlings and fast-growing stems of suckers (root sprouts) are of a different shape, heart-shaped to nearly triangular.[8] They are also often much larger, up to 20 centimetres (7.9 in) long; their petiole is also less flattened.

The flowers are wind-pollinated catkins produced in early spring before the new leaves appear; they are dioecious, with male and female catkins on different trees. The male catkins are patterned green and brown, 5–10 centimetres (2.0–3.9 in) long when shedding pollen; the female catkins are green, 2–6 centimetres (0.79–2.36 in) long at pollination, maturing in early summer to bear 10–20 (50–80) capsules each containing numerous tiny seeds embedded in downy fluff. The fluff assists wind dispersal of the seeds when the capsules split open at maturity.[9][5][7]

It can be distinguished from the closely related North American Populus tremuloides by the leaves being more coarsely toothed.[5]

Like other aspens, it spreads extensively by suckers (root sprouts), which may be produced up to 40 m from the parent tree, forming extensive clonal colonies.[9][5]


Populus tremula growing well north of the Arctic Circle in Norway; April 2008.

Eurasian aspen is a water and light demanding species that is able to vigorously colonize an open area after fire, clear cutting or other kind of damages. After an individual has been damaged or destroyed, root suckers are produced abundantly on the shallow lateral roots. Fast growth continues until the age of about 20 years when crown competition increases. After that, growth speed decreases and culminates at about 30 years of age. Aspen can reach an age of 200 years.[7]

It is a very hardy species and tolerates long, cold winters and short summers.

Aspen is resistant to browsing pressure by fallow deer due to its unpleasant taste.[10]

This species is important for the hornet moth, which uses it as a host during the larval stage.

Fossil record

Fossils of Populus tremula have been described from the fossil flora of Kızılcahamam district in Turkey which is of early Pliocene age.[11]


The aspen is found in cultivation in parks and large gardens.[12] The fastigiate cultivar ‘Erecta’, with bright yellow autumn colouring, has gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.[13][14]

The hybrid with Populus alba (white poplar), known as grey poplar, Populus × canescens, is widely found in Europe and central Asia. Hybrids with several other aspens have also been bred at forestry research institutes in order to find trees with greater timber production and disease resistance (e.g. P. tremula × P. tremuloides, bred in Denmark[15]).


The wood of aspen is light soft and has very little shrinkage. It is used for lumber and matches but is also valued in the pulp and paper industry, being particular useful for writing paper. In addition, it is used for plywood and different types of flake and particle boards. Furthermore, the tree plays an important role in production of wood for renewable energy. Ecologically the species is important as many insect and fungi species benefit from it. The tree further provides habitat for several mammals and birds that require young forests.[7]


  1. ^ "Populus tremula". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-3.RLTS.T61959941A61959943.en.
  2. ^ Benkeblia, Noureddine, ed. (2015). Omics Technologies and Crop Improvement. CRC Press. p. 50. ISBN 978-1-4665-8669-7.
  3. ^ "Blæösp (Populus tremula) Vísindavefurinn".
  4. ^ James Kilkelly Irish native Aspen tree
  5. ^ a b c d Rushforth, K. (1999). Trees of Britain and Europe. Collins ISBN 0-00-220013-9.
  6. ^ Den Virtuella Floran: Populus tremula (in Swedish; with maps)
  7. ^ a b c d e Wühlisch, G. (2009), Eurasian aspen - Populus tremula: Technical guidelines for genetic conservation and use (PDF), European Forest Genetic Resources Programme, p. 6 p.
  8. ^ Stace, Clive (2010). New Flora of the British Isles (3rd ed.). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 314. ISBN 978-0-521-70772-5.
  9. ^ a b Trees for Life Species Profile: Aspen
  10. ^ Rackham, Oliver (1994). The Illustrated History of the Countryside. London : BCA. CN 2922.p. 64.
  11. ^ Kasaplıgil, B.-(1975): Pliocene Flora of Güvem village near Ankara, Turkey, Abstracts of the Papers Presented at the XII International Botanical Congress, Akademika Nauk SSSR, 1: 115, Leningrad
  12. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Populus tremula". Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  13. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Populus tremula 'Erecta'". Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  14. ^ "AGM Plants - Ornamental" (PDF). Royal Horticultural Society. July 2017. p. 81.
  15. ^ Jensen, N. (1994). Guide til Arboretet i Hørsholm (in Danish).

External links

Acleris roscidana

Acleris roscidana is a species of moth of the family Tortricidae. It is found in France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Norway, Sweden, Finland, the Baltic region, Ukraine and Russia.The wingspan is 26–28 mm. Adults are on wing from September to March.

The larvae feed on Populus tremula. Larvae can be found from June to July.

Apotomis inundana

Apotomis inundana is a moth of the Tortricidae family. It is found from Fennoscandia to Italy, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary and Romania and from Belgium and Switzerland to the Baltic region and Russia.

The wingspan is 20–22 mm. Adults are on wing from June to August.The larvae feed on Populus tremula.

Archiearis notha

Archiearis notha, the light orange underwing, is a moth of the family Geometridae. The species was first described by Jacob Hübner in 1803 and can be found in Europe.

The wingspan is about 35 mm. The moths fly from March to April depending on the location.

The larvae feed on aspen (Populus tremula), hiding between spun leaves during the day.

Brachionycha nubeculosa

The Rannoch sprawler (Brachionycha nubeculosa) is a moth of the family Noctuoidea. It is found in Europe.

The wingspan is 48–60 mm. The forewings are brown. The moth flies from March to April [1].

The larvae feed on birch, willow, Populus tremula, Prunus padus, Lonicera xylosteum, Tilia, Rhamnus frangula and Aster species.

Clostera curtula

Clostera curtula, the chocolate-tip, is a moth of the family Notodontidae. It is found in Europe ranging to Siberia.

The wingspan is 27–35 mm. The moth flies from April to September depending on the location.

The larvae feed on Poplar, primarily Populus tremula, and willow.

Colobochyla salicalis

Colobochyla salicalis, the European lesser belle or lesser belle, is a species of moth of the family Erebidae. It is found all over Europe.

The wingspan is 26–30 mm. Adults are on wing from May to July. There is one generation per year.

The larvae feed on the young shoots and leaves of Populus tremula.

Ectoedemia argyropeza

Ectoedemia argyropeza is a moth of the Nepticulidae family. It is a widespread species, with a Holarctic distribution. It is found in most of Europe, as well as North America. In Russia, it is found in St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kaluga, Tatarstan and Kaliningrad. It is also known from north-eastern China.

The wingspan is 7 mm. The head is ochreous-yellow with a whitish collar. The antennal eyecaps are also whitish. Forewings dark fuscous ; a small costal spot before middle, and a larger dorsal spot before the tornus whitish ; outer half of cilia whitish. Hindwings grey.Adults are on wing from May to June. It is a parthenogenetic species, with males being extremely rare.

The larvae feed on Populus tremula and Populus tremuloides (ssp. downesi). They mine the leaves of their host plant. It first bores in the petiole, resulting in a swelling. When the larva reaches the leaf disc, it makes an elongate blotch between the midrib and the first lateral vein. The frass is concentrated in two stripes parallel to the sides of the mine. Pupation takes place outside of the mine.

Eusphecia melanocephala

Eusphecia melanocephala is a moth of the family Sesiidae. It is found in central, eastern and northern Europe and parts of western Europe as well as Asia. The range extends from the Pyrenees, through southern France and central Europe into Asia. In the north, it can be found up to Fennoscandia and in the south down to the southern edge of the Alps and the northern Balkans.

The wingspan is 30–40 mm. Adults are on wing from June to July in one generation depending on the location.

The larvae feed on Populus tremula.

Gypsonoma oppressana

Gypsonoma oppressana, the poplar bud-worm, is a moth of the family Tortricidae. It is found on Madeira and in central and southern Europe, from Transcaucasia to Kazakhstan and Tajikistan.

The wingspan is 12–15 mm. Adults are on wing in June and July.

The larvae feed on Populus nigra, Populus alba and Populus tremula and is considered a minor pest on these species. Young larvae feed on the underside of the leaf in an angle of the veins, living beneath a silken web and eating the surface of the leaf. Later they feed in the buds, moving from bud to bud.

Laspeyria flexula

The Beautiful Hook-tip (Laspeyria flexula) is a species of moth of the family Erebidae. It is found in the Palearctic ecozone.

The wingspan is 23–27 mm. The moth flies from May to June depending on the location.

The larvae feed on Willow and Populus tremula.

Notodonta tritophus

Notodonta tritophus, the three-humped prominent, is a moth of the family Notodontidae. The species was first described by Michael Denis and Ignaz Schiffermüller in 1775. It is found in most of Europe (although it is a very rare immigrant Great Britain), east to the Caucasus and Armenia.

The wingspan is 45–55 mm. Adults are on wing from April to August in two generations in western Europe.

The larvae mainly feed on Populus species (mainly Populus tremula), and sometimes Salix and Betula. Larvae can be found from June to September. The species overwinters in the pupal stage.


Philedone is a genus of moths belonging to the subfamily Tortricinae of the family Tortricidae. It contains only one species, Philedone gerningana, the cinquefoil tortrix or cinquefoil twist, which is found in most of Europe (except Portugal and the southern part of the Balkan Peninsula) and the Near East, east to eastern Russia. The habitat consists of heathlands.The larvae feed on Lotus, Plantago, Scabiosa, Peucedanum, Potentilla and Vaccinium species, as well as Populus tremula and Abies alba. They feed from within spun leaves or flowers.

Phyllocnistis labyrinthella

Phyllocnistis labyrinthella is a moth of the family Gracillariidae. It is found in most of Europe, except the British Isles, Italy, the Mediterranean Islands and parts of the Balkan Peninsula.

The wingspan is 6–7 mm.

The larvae mine the leaves of Populus alba and Populus tremula. The mine consists of a very long, broad epidermal corridor that winds in dense loops over the upperside (and often also the underside) of the leaf without ever intersecting intself. The frass is deposited in a continuous brownish-black central line. The corridor ends at the leaf margin, where it widens somewhat while the leaf margin folds over.

Phyllonorycter sagitella

Phyllonorycter sagitella is a moth of the family Gracillariidae. It is found from Fennoscandia and northern Russia to the Pyrenees, Italy and Romania and from Great Britain to southern Russia.

The wingspan is 8.5-9.5 mm. There are two generations per year, with larvae in June and again from August to October, and adults on wing in May and again in July and August.

The larvae feed on Populus tremula. They mine the leaves of their host plant. They create a lower surface oval tentiform mine without a fixed position on the leaf. The mine is yellowish, sometimes tinged with red and turns black when old. The frass is stacked in one corner of the mine. The pupa is almost black and made in a very flimsy cocoon.

Populus × canescens

Populus × canescens, the grey poplar, is a hybrid between Populus alba (white poplar) and Populus tremula (common aspen). It is intermediate between its parents, with a thin grey downy coating on the leaves, which are also much less deeply lobed than the leaves of P. albus. It is a very vigorous tree with marked hybrid vigour, reaching 40 m tall and with a trunk diameter over 1.5 m – much larger than either of its parents. Most trees in cultivation are male, but female trees occur naturally and some of these are also propagated.


Pygaera is a moth genus of the family Notodontidae. It consist of only one species Pygaera timon, which is found in Northern and Central Europe, through Eastern Asia up to Ussuri and Japan.

The wingspan is 17–19 mm. The moth flies from May to July depending on the location.

The larvae feed on Populus tremula, Populus alba and Populus nigra.

Semioscopis strigulana

Semioscopis strigulana is a species of moth of the Depressariidae family. It is found in most of Europe (except most of the Balkan Peninsula, the Iberian Peninsula, Great Britain, Ireland, the Benelux and Denmark) east to the eastern parts of the Palearctic ecozone.The wingspan is 26–32 mm.The larvae feed on Populus tremula.

Stigmella assimilella

Stigmella assimilella is a moth of the Nepticulidae family. It is found in most of Europe (except Ireland and the Balkan Peninsula), east through Russia to the eastern part of the Palearctic ecozone.

Its wingspan is 5–6 millimetres (0.20–0.24 in). The larvae mine the leaves of their host plant, which typically includes species of aspen including Populus alba, Populus canescens and Populus tremula.

Tethea or

Tethea or, the poplar lutestring, is a moth of the family Drepanidae. It was first described by Michael Denis and Ignaz Schiffermüller in 1775. The species can be found in Europe, northern and eastern Asia and Japan. The imago resembles Tethea ocularis.

The wingspan is 38–43 mm. The moths flies from April to August depending on the location.

The larvae feed on willow and poplar, mainly Populus tremula.


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