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TREES & plants

Quaking aspen

This fast-growing native tree has beautiful silvery gray bark and leaves that "tremble" in the wind due to flat leaf stalks. Unfortunately this tree is short-lived and prone to some disease and insect problems; it is also highly susceptible to ice storm damage.

Botanical name: 
Populus tremuloides
All Common Names: 
quaking aspen
Family (English): 
Willow
Family (Botanic): 
Salicaceae
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Tree
Native Locale: 
  • Chicago area
  • Illinois
  • North America
Planting Site: 
  • Residential and parks
  • City parkway
  • Wide median
Landscape Uses: 
  • Specimen
  • Screen
Size Range: 
  • Large tree (more than 40 feet)
Mature Height: 
40-50 feet
Mature Width: 
20-30 feet
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 2
  • Zone 3
  • Zone 4
  • Zone 5
  • Zone 6
Acid Soils: 
  • Tolerant
Alkaline Soils: 
  • Moderately Tolerant
Salt Spray: 
  • Tolerant
Soil Salt: 
  • Intolerant
Drought Conditions: 
  • Tolerant
Poor Drainage: 
  • Intolerant
Planting Considerations: 
  • Excessive sucker growth
  • Highly susceptible to ice damage
Foliage: 
  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
Ornamental Interest: 
  • Fall color
  • Attractive bark
Time of Year: 
  • Mid spring
  • Early fall
  • Mid fall
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Inconspicuous
Shape or Form: 
  • Narrow
  • Pyramidal
  • Upright
Growth Rate: 
  • Fast
Transplants Well: 
  • No
Wildlife: 
  • Browsers
  • Game birds
  • Songbirds
More Information: 

Size & Form

A medium-sized tree reaching 40 to 50 feet high and 20 to 30 feet wide.
A tall straight trunk with a narrow, pyramidal shape when young becoming more rounded with age.

Tree & Plant Care

Best planted in moist soils in full sun. Intolerant of shade conditions.
Roots tend to sucker freely.
Does not tolerate summer heat or pollution.

Disease, pests, and problems

Numerous disease and pest problems if not sited correctly, Tree prefers cool summer climates.

Native geographic location and habitat

C-Value: 4
Native to western and eastern coasts of North America

Attracts birds, pollinators, or wildlife

A favorite nesting site for woodpeckers and sapsuckers.

Bark color and texture 

Young trees have a white, smooth bark.
Stems are a slender, reddish brown 
Older trees is grayish white, furrowed and darkened with age

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Alternate leaf arrangement, simple,1 to 3 inches wide, triangular-shaped with finely serrated margins.glacescent leaf underside
Light  green, smooth leaf turns a bright yellow in the fall.

Flattened leaf petioles tremble in the wind creating a rustling sound.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Dioecious. Male and female trees separate. Flowers are dangling catkins that appear before the leaves.
Not ornamentally important. 

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Fruit is a  drooping cluster of capsules containing many seeds.