Sunday, September 7, 2008

Native Plants Of California ~ #17 In A Series

The quaking aspen is much loved for the gentle rustling sound it makes in the slightest breeze and its explosive yellow color when autumn arrives. This California native grows mostly from 5,000 to 12,000 feet but can be found occassionaly as low as 1,500 feet. That gentle rustling sound is caused by its flattened petioles. The petiole is the small stalk that attaches the leaf blade to the stem. The petiole of the quaking aspen is flattened from side to side and along the entire length, so the slightest breeze causes the leaves to tremble, hence the name "quaking".

This is a fast growing tree and can reach heights of between 66 and 80 feet. It has a whitish gray smooth bark with black horizontal marks and pronounced black knots. As the tree matures, the leaves become almost round.

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