In the ground beneath this vibrant grove of aspen trees exists a single organism – a massive tangle of roots that are all connected. When the environmental conditions were right (enough water, sun, right temperatures, etc.) this subsurface root mass breached the soil, sending shoots above the soil and out into the light of day. These shoots, which are all clones connected to the single mass of roots, grew into trees. The quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) is a member of the Salicaceae family, along with cottonwoods, willows, and other trees, and it has the ability to reproduce vegetatively – as in, through sprouting new babies trees out of the existing root system when a root is damaged by cutting or fire. The oldest known cluster of clones lives in Utah’s Bryce Canyon National Park and is believed to be 80,000 years old! The grove pictured here is on Mt. Ashland in Oregon.