The Fight for Light

These tall trees are Largetooth Aspen, named for the toothed margins of their leaves. They grow straight and tall but are short-lived, 80 to 100 years their maximum lifespan. Largetooth Aspen are “shade intolerant,” requiring full sunlight to get a start in life. Small, windblown seeds allow this “pioneer” species to colonize sun-drenched terrain.

Beneath the aspen, Striped Maple displays a different solution for accessing sunlight. The shrub’s large, opposite leaves capture sufficient light for photosynthesis, allowing it to grow in the aspens’ shade. Larger individuals bear the name-giving stripes on their greenish bark.