In a world dominated by steppe, the warmest regions give way into parklands dominated by stands of Aspen.

My research suggests that Aspen groves may tend to exclude other species of tree, but I am not sure whether this is the case. Having not visited such a place myself, I cannot draw from experience.

The question I wish to ask is this; Does it make sense for groves in the forest-steppe to have Aspen as well as species such as Oak, Beech, and Hornbeam?

  • $\begingroup$ Since this is apparently a question on real biomes, have you considered biology.SE? $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Feb 18 '19 at 20:42
  • $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch Not a bad suggestion, I may try it over there also. I felt that because it is a matter of me trying to make my setting more realistic, it wasn't a bad fit for here either. :) $\endgroup$ – Arkenstein XII Feb 18 '19 at 20:45
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    $\begingroup$ Milan Gazdić et al. "Diversity and ecological differentiation of mixed forest in northern Montenegro (Mt Bjelasica) with reference to European classification", in Tuexenia, 2018: "... heliophytic mixed forests with pioneer species (pine, aspen and birch) and European hop-hornbeam ...". Or see this photo on Wikimedia. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Feb 18 '19 at 21:49
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    $\begingroup$ @AlexP Interesting, they describe Aspen as being a pioneer species, which seems at odds with the existence of an organism such as Pando which has lived for as long as 80,000 years without being replaced by more mature forest species. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pando_(tree) EDIT: Having read a bit more about Pando, it seems that frequent wildfires might be responsible for suppressing its competitors. $\endgroup$ – Arkenstein XII Feb 19 '19 at 0:27

From the Wikipedia page you linked,

Aspens typically grow in environments that are otherwise dominated by coniferous tree species

Yes, aspens do tend to dominate their area, but during the time between when they're introduced to an area and they dominate it, there is at least some variety. Not all trees are as easy to dominate as others. One of the factors that helps them dominate an area is (same source)

the rhizomatic nature of their root systems. Most aspens grow in large clonal colonies, derived from a single seedling, and spread by means of root suckers


Each individual tree can live for 40–150 years above ground, but the root system of the colony is long-lived. In some cases, this is for thousands of years, sending up new trunks as the older trunks die off above ground.

That suggests to me the process they dominate a forest is by basically taking over the ground in a long, slow process, so it would take a while for them to fully dominate an area.

Looking at the pictures on that page, , we see an example of an aspen forest with at least one fir on the bottom right. I think there's some other non-aspens in that picture that are still within the body of the forest, but it's difficult for me to tell for certain.

Several decades ago I lived near an arboretum with an aspen grove, but they still had quite a few other trees around. In the roughly 14 years I was either living in that area or coming back to visit, the balance didn't seem to change much.

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