. Aspen are found throughout North America, from New England to Alaska, even down into California and Arizona. But the best, the most, and brightest are found in Colorado and Utah.
Petiole--the stalk attaching the leaf to the stem--are long and flat, giving the leaves the chance to flutter or “quake” in the slightest breeze. Depending on their location, aspen endure temperatures as low as -78 F, and as high as 110 F. While they prefer moist soil, they can grow in desert climes that get a half a foot of rain a year. Their absolutely only requirement for survival is abundant sunlight. With white bark and black scars, the aspen is often confused with the birch. However, birch bark easily peels like paper and aspen bark does not. And...an aspen isn’t really one tree at all.
A stand of aspen is actually one huge organism, a large system--up to twenty acres--of underground roots. When there is finally enough sunlight, roots sprout up into the famed white trunks which eventually shoot off leaves. This is called vegetative, or asexual, reproduction. These root systems are called “clones” and can live for thousands of of years. The oldest known clone at 80,000 years old is the “Pando” north of Bryce Canyon in central Utah. Five-to-ten thousand year old clones are more common.
Aspen are unique in another way...beneath that lovely white back is an inner green layer necessary for photosynthesis. Making sugars keeps the aspen growing all through the winter when other trees go dormant. This green layer also becomes survival food for deer and elk when winters are long.
In the fall, the trees of each aspen “clone” structure will have the same color turning from green to gold or red at the same time. The intensive root systems appear immune to plant diseases. The aspen is not endangered and never will be. Even dormant root systems come back to life...especially after a forest fire clears out other growth and brings back the sun. The only natural enemy of the aspen are pocket gophers who, in abundance, can gnaw through root systems. But chopped up roots can still grow. The aspen turn gold earlier in the mountains than Denver, and we sure timed it right during our vacation in Vail.
Have you ever seen aspen? Did you find any interesting facts today?
Here's also a tad on my latest and final release (sob) in my Lawmen and Outlaws series:
Outlaw in Love.
Outlaw Ahab Perkins has run roughshod through many of my books at The Wild Rose Press, so I reckoned it time to settle down this charming bad boy and let him find his soul and true love. Which he finally does in Outlaw in Love, last in a trilogy.
On the run from his gang, having robbed his own sister, outlaw Ahab Perkins has no place to go but good. He’d give his heart to Teresa in a single beat...if the beautiful woman in gray weren’t a...nun.
Unbeknownst, Teresa Avila is as wanted as Ahab, hiding out in disguise at a rundown mission. After her crimes and her evil stepfather’s abuse, she’s convinced she’s not good enough for any man, not even the outlaw she’s falling for.
Enter a burned-out homestead, an abandoned little girl and a kindly sheriff...can both find love as they guide their souls out of darkness?