Aspen Tree and Birch Tree Common Characteristics
Aspen trees and Birch trees have similar characteristics. They are both tall, slender, have white bark and lose their leaves in the fall. While both are beautiful and make for stunning photographs, there are differences for those that are interested in learning to identify the two that we'll review below.
Many cultures believed that both birch trees and aspen trees were capable of driving away evil. Due to this they were often planted near homes.
Joe Garza has a gallery full of Fall Color Trees with both Aspen and Birch trees. See if you can spot the difference!
Differences Between Aspen and Birch: Let's Start With the Bark
Both Aspen Tree Bark and Birch Tree Bark, while both smooth, are not solid white. There are horizontal black scars in the bark of both trees. However, Aspen Trees are known for having "eyes" which appear like black knots in the bark. While Birch Trees also have the horizontal scars, they do not have the "eyes" of Aspen trees.
Additionally, the bark of a Birch Tree will peel off like paper, but the bark of an Aspen Tree does not peel off.
Aspen Tree Leaves vs Birch Tree Leaves
Aspen trees, often call quaking aspen, because it's leaves tremble with even the smallest breeze. Aspen trees are found across most of North America.
Aspen tree leaves are heart-shaped while Birch tree leaves are oval shaped with tapered tips. Both trees will produce vibrant yellow leaves in the fall but neither commonly turn red.
Growth Location and Conditions
Birch Trees thrive in partial sunlight with loose soil whereas Aspen Trees require full sun and can tolerate varied soil conditions.
Aspen trees are found across the North American continent from Canada down to Mexico, while birch trees are generally only found in the eastern United States and parts of Canada. That doesn't narrow it down much but with the other characteristics, this should help you distinguish Aspen and Birch Trees.
Birch Tree vs Aspen Tree Root Systems
A grove of aspen trees is technically cloned and is a single organism with one root system. Pando is an aspen clone that originated from a single seed and spreads by sending up new shoots from the expanding root system. Entire forests of new seedlings continuously sprout from the roots and can keep a colony alive through wildfires.
Birch trees have individual root systems and grow from seeds that spread.