E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Populus tremuloides Michx.
trembling aspen (quaking aspen)
Salicaceae (Willow family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Brian Klinkenberg  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #25022)

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Distribution of Populus tremuloides
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Species Information

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Dioecious tree up to 25 m tall; colonial; branches greenish-white; twigs greenish-white, smooth.
Alternate, deciduous, simple, broadly egg-shaped, kidney-shaped or circular, 2.5-9 cm long, 2.5-8 cm wide, the bases rounded to slightly heart-shaped, smooth, finely toothed and fringed with long white hairs, upper side green, lower side paler; leaf stalks 2-7.5 cm long; buds smooth.
Borne in catkins; male catkins 2-3 cm long, soon deciduous, with 6-14 stamens; female catkins 4-10 cm long.
Capsules, lanceolate to narrowly egg-shaped, carpels 2, smooth, short-stalked.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

Flower Colour:
Blooming Period:
Mid Spring
Fruit/Seed characteristics:
Colour: White
Present from Spring to Summer
Source:  The USDA

Habitat / Range

Moist to dry ravines, depressions, meadows, ridges, upland forests and occasionally on floodplains in the lowland and montane zones; common throughout BC, except infrequent on SW coast, absent on Queen Charlotte Islands; N to AK, YT and NT, E to NF and S to NY, NC, IN, AR, TX, NM, AZ, CA and MX.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Populus tremuloides

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 6 939 2400
Slope Gradient (%) -2 19 230
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 199 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 3 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: AT(1), BG(53), BWBS(1066), CDF(5), CWH(42), ESSF(219), ICH(964), IDF(1013), MH(1), MS(458), PP(69), SBPS(258), SBS(1504), SWB(70)

Ecological Indicator Information

A shade-intolerant, submontane to alpine, transcontinental North American, deciduous broad-leaved tree (rare in the Pacific region). Occurs in continental boreal and cool temperate climates on nitrogen-rich soils (Moder and Mull humus forms). Its occurrence increases with increasing continentality and latitude; sporadic in the coast-interior ecotone. Forms pure stands on base-rich, water-shedding and water-receiving sites following disturbance. A nurse species, it improves humus form quality through nutrient-rich litterfall. Regenerates abundantly from root suckers which quickly form a dense shrub layer and suppress the growth of shade-intolerant conifers. Characteristic of young-seral, continental forests.

SourceIndicator Plants of Coastal British Columbia (Information applies to coastal locations only)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is montane boreal & cool temperate.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Populus polygonifolia Bernard
Populus polygonifolia Bernard
Populus aurea Tidestr.
Populus cercidiphylla Britt.
Populus tremula subsp. tremuloides (Michx.) A.& D. L÷ve
Populus tremuloides var. aurea (Tidestr.) Daniels
Populus tremuloides var. cercidiphylla (Britt.) Sudworth
Populus tremuloides var. intermedia Victorin
Populus tremuloides var. magnifica Victorin
Populus tremuloides var. rhomboidea Victorin
Populus tremuloides var. tremuloides
Populus tremuloides var. vancouveriana (Trel.) Sarg.
Populus vancouveriana Trel.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References