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The trees / Aspen - Populus tremula

The tree

The aspen immigrated 12000 years ago and now grows on most types of soil in all parts of Sweden.

It flowers in March – April with big catkins, before the new leaves appear. The leaves are round with a long, flat stalk allowing them to tremble even in slight breezes. “To tremble like an aspen leaf”. The bark is smooth and light grey on young trees, becoming dark grey and fissured on older trees.

Aspens are fast growing trees, getting 25- 30 meters high. They are normally felled after 50 – 60 years. If left alone, they can reach an age of 150 years. Aspen forests are often clones from one mother tree.

The wood

The wood is white to white yellow with no visible heartwood. It is light in weight, soft and easy to split. In wood crafts it is mostly used for making bowls, due to its lack of taste and scent. Since it is light in weight and rather weather resistant it has been used in boatbuilding, as building material and as roof shingles. Today its main use is for matches and pulp but also, due to its low heat transmitting properties, for sauna interiors.

Did you know that:

  •  Leaves, twigs and bark were used as forage.
  • Aspen ashes were used when making soap.
  • Aspen was important in folk medicine. Decoctions from tender buds or roots cleaned the blood, tea from leaves cured gastric problems and the sap was supposed to help against bruises and warts.
  • There are many legends explaining the trembling leaves of the aspen. For instance: the tree trembles in shame because Jesus was crucified on aspen wood, and Judas hanged himself in an aspen tree.

Asp, virke / Aspen, wood

Asp, löv / Aspen, leaf

Asp / Aspen