Quaking Aspens

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In the Fishlake National Forest in Richfield, there is a forest of quaking aspens called The Trembling Giant, or Pando, meaning “I spread” in Latin. Pando is a grove of about 47,000 trees that are one organism, as they all share the same root system. All of the trees are identical genetically. These aspens reproduce asexually so given the room, they will continue making more identical trees. The rustling of their leaves all together can cause an unnerving sound.
This was once thought to be the world’s largest organism, but was passed by a fungal mat in Oregon, although Pando is the oldest living organism at about a million years old. Some of the individual trees are over 130 years old.
This living world wonder may not be around for much longer. Paul Rogers, an ecologist at Utah State University, says “the Trembling Giant is in danger. While the mature stems of Pando routinely die from the eternal problems of pests and drought, the regenerative roots of the organism that are responsible for Pando’s resilience are under attack as well. A marked absence of juvenile and young stems to replace the older trunks can be blamed on overgrazing by deer and elk. Without new growth to replace the old, the Trembling Giant is vulnerable to a catastrophic sudden withering and shrinking.”
Students can go see this wonder and hear why the aspens got their name. The most popular time to see this wonder is in the fall, when all the leaves turn bright yellow. To see the aspens, go to Fishlake National Forest.

Quaking Aspens enjoying the sunshine after a snowstorm in Ephraim Canyon. Photo courtesy of Kiana Hill

Emily Parnell is a Sophomore communications major at Snow College. She has a great passion for writing and reading. She joined The Snowdrift newspaper to help her pursue a career in public relations.

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