Visit the Sunshine Coast Botanical Garden’s outstanding grove of rare quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides var. vancouveriana). Douglas Justice of the UBC Botanical Garden is over the moon about them, “Their bark is a wonderful shade of chalky greenish white, set off beautifully by contrasting charcoal smudges of the branch scars.”
The long, flat stems make the leaves shake in the slightest of breezes, which is why it is called quaking aspen.
A few facts:
- Many chopsticks are made from aspen exported to other countries.
- Back in the day, aspen branches were boiled down to create a cleanser for guns, traps, buckskins and stinky humans, according to the British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
- It is the most widely distributed tree in North America, filling in all of the Canadian provinces and all but 13 of the United States (the Southeast doesn’t get them), according to the USDA.
- The light, soft, low-strength wood of an aspen tree is now used to make plywood, particleboard, pallets, crates, excelsior (fine wood shavings), matches and pulp for paper. The wood does not splinter, so it can make good sauna benches and playground equipment.