Quaking Aspen Populus tremuloides Michaux    Synonyms: Trembling Aspen.
Kingdom Plantae   >   Division Tracheophyta   >   Class Magnoliopsida   >   Order Salicales   >   Family Salicaceae   >   Genus Populus   


A tree mostly of the northeastern and northern mid-western states, through much of Canada, and in the western U.S. mountains. In Maryland, modern reports have only been from high elevations in Garrett County.


Medium-sized tree with pale whitish trunk. The leaves are finely toothed, shining green on the upper surface and pale green beneath. The leaves are small, finely toothed, and nearly round to diamond-shaped or pointed. The leaf stalks are long and flattened from side to side, so the slightest breeze causes them to flutter or "quake". The flowers are in catkins, and the fruits ripen into narrow, pointed capsules, in contrast to cottonwoods, which belong to the same genus and have broad capsules (Sibley, 2009).

Where to find:

Very uncommon in Maryland. Although modern records are only from Garrett County, there are historical museum specimens from the early-to-mid twentieth-century from both Montgomery and Prince George's counties. Grows in dry or moist soils, "reproducing abundantly in burned over areas, often mainly by root sprouts" (Brown and Brown, 1972).


Host plant for various butterfly species including Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.

Host plant to various moth species including Green Aspen Leafroller Moth, Dusky Leafroller Moth, Serviceberry Leafroller Moth, Banded Olethreutes Moth, Olethreutes glaciana, Gypsonoma substitutionis, Pseudexentera oregonana, American Dagger Moth, Banded Tussock Moth, Black-rimmed Prominent Moth, Elegant Prominent Moth, Common Gluphisia Moth, Four-spotted Gluphisia Moth, and Black-etched Prominent Moth (Database of World's Lepidopteran Host Plants, Miller et al., 2018, Gilligan, Wright, & Gibson, 2008).

"Eaten by beavers and used in construction of their dams" (Brown and Brown, 1972).

There are 17 records in the project database.

View at Maryland Plant Atlas

Search Flora of North America

Search Mid-Atlantic Herbaria Consortium

Search Norton-Brown Herbarium

View taxon at iNaturalist

View taxon at NatureServe

Search Google Images

Search MBP Facebook posts (beta | requires login)

[View seasonality details]
Quaking Aspen leaves in Garrett Co., Maryland (6/9/2013). Photo by Bill Hubick. (MBP list)

View All Images

Use of images featured on Maryland Biodiversity Project is only permitted with express permission of the photographer.