quaking aspen trees

Asked June 30, 2016, 8:13 PM EDT

I do not see Populus tremoloides on any of your lists of trees for Southeast MN. Can I plant one, and if so, other than what I have found online, are there any specific things to be aware of. I know they will sucker. Thanks

Hennepin County Minnesota quaking aspen trees horticulture poplar tree

1 Response

Thank you for the question. Yes, you can plant this variety of tree in your County if you wish although it's not recommended due to a variety of factors. Quaking aspen have attractive foliage, especially when breezes blow. And a marvelous sound. Populus tremuloides, quaking aspen is also known as a member of the poplar family. Aspen are either male or female, and groves are usually one gender or the other and not mixed. So they do not grow reliably from seed, but do send out suckers from the root system, as you have noted. They are not a long-lived tree, and tend to die off at about 12-15 years, leaving more root systems to deal with. They are not a useful lumber source, and are used as firewood only when other, more preferable wood is not available.

In the mid 1990's scientists noted dieback among groves as well as single aspen. No cause has been tied to this phenomenon. It has been speculated that the dieback may be associated with U.S. fire supression policy changes and practices. Life spans can be shortened further by one or more of several insects or diseases that attack aspen. Fungal diseases, such as Cytospora or other cankers which attack the trunk, are common, as are diseases of the foliage such as rusts, or leaf spots. Of the many insects that attack urban plantings of aspen, oystershell scale, aphids and aspen twiggall fly are most prevalent.

The links below have more information on aspens and other replacement cultivars. While aspen do grow on northern tallgrass prairies, they do well in the western mountain area, and lower humidity levels are a big factor there. However, even in Colorado, aspens have been banned from being planted in urban communities because of their invasive growth habit and support of fungal and insect infestations. We want to make sure you know the story before settling on a cultivar that can be miserable to live with. The article below has a lot of information and links on trees that will be pleasing and suitable for your yard.

http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/yard-garden/trees-shrubs/#selection

After clicking on the next link, choose the southeast region for recommended trees. You will find aspen listed in the 'limited use' area. These trees aren't recommended for general planting.
http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/yard-garden/trees-shrubs/recommended-trees-for-minnesota/southea...

Thank you for contacting Extension.