We love our quaking aspen in Colorado, and never more than at this time of year. They are turning now, and they won’t last long.
I took a drive up to Evergreen last week and found a little meadow ringed with quakies, some of which hadn’t turned yet.
Aspen are in the cottonwood family. You can see this in their round -yet-pointed, saw-tooth leaf shape.
But you can tell aspen from other cottonwoods because of their white bark, and the unique “eye-shaped” scar that forms when they drop a branch. As a child, I used to worry that aspen were watching me. Not paranoid, though. Not.
Now that the mountain pine beetle infestation (BioBlitz 2012 — Climate Change in the Soil) has burned itself out, aspen will have an opportunity to fill in the open spaces left by dead lodgepole pine. Aspen reproduce mostly by suckers, and so don’t have the dangers associated with being small and vulnerable for years. The slopes that were covered by rust colored dead pines will in a decade wear a mantle of pale green in the summer and gold in the fall.