Aspens are native to cold regions with cool summers in the Northern Hemisphere. They are considered medium-sized deciduous trees which have a fast growth rate. They thrive in sunlight and can be from 20 to 100 feet tall, living 40 to 150 years above ground. Aspens grow in large clonal colonies, which means they come from one seedling and spread by shooting roots underground. The root system colony can live thousands of years, by sending up new trunks as older trees die off. Aspen forests also have less ground erosion because of the large connected and interwoven root system. Forest fires allow saplings to flourish in open sunlight on burned landscape. Because of the root system, these forests are considered ancient woodlands
There are many speices of aspens throughout the world. The quaking aspen is the most widely distributed native North American species. They are generally found from 5000 to 12,000 feet in elevation. The quaking name derives from the leaves which flutter in the breeze, creating their unique sound in the forest.