The Aspen Tree: Similar in Appearance to a Birch Tree, but so Different in its Characteristics

The Aspen Tree is often mistaken in appearance for a Birch Tree, but appearance is where it ends; both are uniquely different from each other. The confusion between both trees is the white bark they both possess; the Aspen Tree has a smooth white bark. The Birch Tree also has white bark but the degree of whiteness can vary, from grayish-white to gray to black. The Aspen Tree usually only show scars or knots whereas the Birch Tree has horizontal markings disfiguring the surface. Another difference between the two barks is that the bark of the Birch Tree can be peeled, whereas the bark of the Aspen Tree cannot be peeled easily.

The Aspen Tree differs significantly from the white tree with the appearance of its leaves; Aspens have leaves that are rounded with smooth bumps along the edges whereas the Birch tree has leaves that are rough along both sides of the leaf. The buds of the Aspen Tree form in mid to late summer, the buds of the Birch Tree form is spring and develop through mid-summer.

The differences between Aspen and Birch Trees can also be found in the climates in which both trees grow. The Birch Tree is limited to the eastern United States and areas of Canada and can tolerate extreme climates. The Aspen Tree's habitat is wide and is found across the country. Unlike the White Birch Tree, the Aspen Tree can start a whole grove from a single seed and share the same root system. These root systems can lay dormant for thousands of years, sleeping underground waiting for an event to occur, such as a flood, fire, or the ground cleared from trees that shade the area. The Aspen’s root system can sense the heat from the sun warming the cleared ground and send signals to the roots to come out of its dormancy and begin sending up saplings which in turn will become trees. The amazing fact about the Aspen Tree is that the growths of new trees are made possible by disaster, something that does not occur with White Birch Trees.