• Quaking Aspens: The Gold Star of Montana’s Autumns

    By Judith Steninger  |  Photos by Jason Savage

    Thank the petiole, that disproportionately long, atypical flat stalk connecting the leaf of a quaking aspen to the stem. Because of it, not only the leaves tremble but also our emotions when we behold great groves of aspen fluttering shades of green in the summer and variations of gold in the fall. As the dominant deciduous tree in many areas, they distinguish themselves flamboyantly from the abundance of always green conifers.The beautiful and functional tree whose Latin name is Populous tremuloides can be found throughout Montana. The aspen is further differentiated as small tooth, because the one- to three-inch, heart-shaped to slightly round leaves have finely serrated edges. Montana’s collection was noted first by explorer Meriwether Lewis on July 20, 1805, near today’s Tosten. He spelled the trees’ name aspin.

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