If you ever come to Colorado during the fall hoping to do a little leaf peeping, then be prepared to only see one dominant color in the high country of the Rockies. That color being a vibrant, bright yellow you'll find peppered across the mountains and nestled in between the lush evergreens that sprawl across the state. Aspens provide the ONLY real fall color of the state.
The Aspen trees are native to colder climates which is one reason they thrive in the Centennial state as Colorado averages the highest peaks in the lower 48. This is one reason that Colorado is known for its Aspens as it has more in thicker concentrations than anywhere else in the U.S.
Another reason they do so well in Colorado is their ability to sprout new growth after large wildfires – of which Colorado has had many – it is usually the first tree species to colonize a burned area. Aspens are also more fire resistant than other native trees such as the Evergreens.
Another cool fact of the Aspens that set them apart from other trees in the West is their ability to carry out the process of photosynthesis in the white bark, which most trees carry this process out through the leaves. This means in winter after the leaves have fallen and snow begins to fall, the tree continues to produce sugar for energy. And that’s good news for the deer and elk and other animals that eat the bark.
Have you ever noticed how clustered together they are?
This is because Aspens have the ability to clone themselves as roots sprout new trees that share an identical genetic makeup. There can be multiple clones in an aspen grove or the entire grove can be one clone, whose leaves all turn at the same time. Pretty neat huh?
So next time you visit Colorado and venture into the majestic peaks you'll share a deeper understanding and appreciation for this native tree.
Meteorologist Merry Matthews