Aspen Tree or Birch Tree? How to tell them apart.

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It's not often you see an aspen tree with red leaves and this one really stood as I drove by it outside of Ouray. Scenes like these cozy little aspen trees are a good reminder of the magic Colorado fall colors always seem to bring.

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Aspen Tree and Birch Tree Common Characteristics

Thick dense fog filled this aspen forest in the San Juan Mountains. Aspen trees stand silent on this cool fall morning.

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 trees with bright red, orange colors are surrounded by white aspen trunks. It appears the trees are on fire in the forest.

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Aspen Tree Leaves vs Birch Tree Leaves

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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.

Endless Autumn

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.

Located in the Uncompahgre National Forest these very special trees knows as Swurvy curvy aspen trees are amazing to see. These bent trees have their own story,

These aspen trees are very special because it showcases a unique aspen grove located on the Uncompahgre National Forest. The locals say these trees are bent and twisted because of avalanches and snowfall over the years. I have never seen another aspen grove like this anywhere in Colorado from all my travels. This area is truly special and unique.

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.

Aspen trees are viewed close up with white trunks, and colors of yellow and green leaves in the background.

The perfect aspen forest to get lost in...endless white aspens as fall colors start to whisper with shades of yellow and orange near Telluride.

Also available in a vertical print, Aspen Pipes.

Like what you see? Join Light Chasing Photo Tours for our Colorado Fall Color Photography Workshop to take home amazing images of your own!

Aspen Tree Pictures for Sale | Limited Edition Fine Art Prints

Aspen Tree Photography for Sale | Limited Edition Prints | Fall Color Aspen Tree Pictures

Joe Garza's collection of tree images is available on TruLife Acrylic or HD Metal Prints that are museum grade, archival quality fine art prints that will last for generations. For the ultimate in luxury fine art prints, world-class artist and master landscape and nature photographer Joe Garza offers external framing with handcrafted Italian Roma Frames. Shop for wall art in Joe's full online collection of images.