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The Story Of The Quaking Aspen Or Poplar

from Things To See In Springtime





The leaf of the Quaking Asp is like the one marked "a" in the drawing. Its trunk is smooth, greenish, or whitish, with black knots of bark like "c". All the farmers know it as Popple, or White Poplar; but the hunters call it Quaking Asp or Aspen.


The Story of the Quaking Aspen The Story of the Quaking Aspen

The name "quaking" was given because it is for ever shaking its leaves; the slightest wind sets them all rustling. They move so easily because each leaf-stem is like a thin, flat strap set on edge; while the leaf-stem of such as the oak is nearly round and scarcely rustles at all. Why does the Quaking Asp do this? No doubt, because it lives in places where the hot dust falls thick on the leaves at times, and if it did not have some trick of shaking it off, the leaf would be choked and bent so that the tree could scarcely breathe; for the leaves are the lungs of the trees. So remember, when the Poplar rustles loudly, it is coughing to clear its lungs of the dust.


Some trees try to hide their troubles, and quickly cover up their wounds; but the Aspen has a very touchy skin and, once it is wounded, it shows the scar as long as it lives. We can, therefore, go to any Aspen tree, and have it tell us the story of its life. Here is the picture of one. The black marks at the forks (c) are scars of growth; the belts of dots (d) were wounds given by a sapsucker to rob it of its sap; the flat places (e) show where a Red Squirrel gnawed off the outer bark.


If a Raccoon climbed the tree (f), or an insect bored into the trunk, we are sure to see a record of it in this sensitive bark.


Now, last of all, the paper on which this story is printed was likely made out of Aspen wood.







Next: The Witch-hazel

Previous: Why The Chicadee Goes Crazy Twice A Year



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