We went up into the mountains just outside Santa Fe on Monday, hiked up to a waterfall, and then went aspen hunting. The trees are just past their peak. That is good – I don’t know if I could have tolerated the sensory overload at the high point of the aspen turning.
Populus tremuloides, aside from being blindingly gorgeous in fall, are also fascinating. Aspen groves, though they appear to be composed of many trees, are often just a single organism. Each tree is a clone of the other, and they all share a common root system.
In south-central Utah, there is a hundred-acre grove of male aspens named Pando, that is believed to be one of the oldest and heaviest organisms in the world. Pando has lived to the venerable age of 80,000 years, and is estimated to weigh more than six million kilograms collectively.
In addition to all this, clonal colonies of aspen have been known to induce periods of debilitating wonder and awe in susceptible human beings. Usually photographers.