Propagating Aspen

restocking InshOne of the main objectives of the Aspen 2020 Project is to increase the area of Aspen woodland in Scotland.  This will have benefits for biodiversity, landscape and rural economies.  Some of this increase will be achieved by expanding existing Aspen stands by natural regeneration, but we also need to plant new stands of Aspen. 

Besides the value of planting Aspen for conservation, there is also a lot of interest in Aspen as a fast-growing, productive native hardwood.  It has considerable potential as a source of construction timber, fuelwood and pulp.  In commercial conifer plantations, Aspen has the added advantage that it provides a colourful, attractive contrast in the forest landscape.

Young plants

Unfortunately, the demand for local-origin Aspen for planting far outstrips the supply.  This is largely because, in Scotland, Aspen rarely flowers and sets seed.  A number of nurseries grow Aspen plants from root suckers, but this method is laborious, and plants are consequently expensive.

Efforts are being made to increase production by a variety of methods, including experimental seed-orchards.  There are already promising signs that these trials may, quite literally, bear fruit!  The picture below shows female catkins in the seed orchard at Kincraig.