Tuesday 27 June 2023

Painting Scotland Yellow - a new campaign for a favourite tree


Aspen is a beautiful tree, especially in autumn when it's leaves turn a glorious intense yellow. However it's now scarce in Scotland due to overgrazing. I'm privileged to live where there are quite a few aspen in the local woods. All these pictures were taken within a short walk of my home.

Aspen is one of my favourite trees so I'm delighted that Scotland The Big Picture has just launched a campaign called Painting Scotland Yellow " to inform and inspire more people, at all levels, to recognise aspen as a key component of healthy woodlands". The result, it is hoped, will be more aspen in the landscape both through natural regeneration, as well as planting. I really hope so.

Restoring aspen to the landscape is difficult because "aspen rarely sets seed in Scotland and instead relies on the root system of one tree sending up ‘suckers’ to create clones of itself." This is why aspen often grows in straight lines. 

To produce aspen for planting " growers take cuttings from these roots and grow them on – a labour intensive job – or they wait for one of the few years in which aspen flowers in order to collect seed". It's not easy then to increase aspen numbers.

Whilst most spectacular in autumn aspen are wonderful trees year round. In winter they are pale and ghost-like, an appearance that lasts into the spring as their leaves come out later than on other trees.

When the wind moves aspen leaves they quiver and rustle, a feature reflected in the scientific name, Populus tremens. 

The bark of an aspen is a pale creamy grey, smooth in young trees, cracked and pitted in old ones and often splashed with lichen.

 More aspen, yes, please!

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