This section is from the book "British Wild Flowers - In Their Natural Haunts Vol2-4", by A. R. Horwood. Also available from Amazon: A British Wild Flowers In Their Natural Haunts.
1. Aspen (Populus tremula, L.). 2. Tway-blade (Listera ovata, Br.). 3. Bee Orchis (Ophrys apifera, Huds.). 4. Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis, L.). 5. Lily-of-the-Valley (Convallaria majalis, L.). 6. Garlic (Allium ursinum, L.). 7. Bluebell (Scilla non-scripta, Iloffm. and Link.).
Populus, Pliny, is Latin for poplar, and the Latin adjective tremula denotes tremulous or shaking.
Photo. H. Irving. - Aspen (populus Tremula, L.)
It is called Aps, Apse, Quaking or Mountain Ash, Asp, Aspen, Auld-wives'-tongues, Ebble, Eps, Esp, Espin, Haspen, Pipple, Poplar, Quaking Esp, Rattling Asp, Snapsen.
" Ah trimml't like an esp-leaf", is a Cumberland saying.
The Rattling Asp is so called from the rattling sound made by its tremulous leaves. On account of its bitter bark it was called Bitter-weed.
" Oak, Ash, and Elm-tree,
The laird can hang for a' the three;
But fir, saigh, and bitter-weed,
The laird may flyte but make naething be'et."
Aps or Apse is the same as aspe by transposition of letters.
Gerarde says it was called Auld-wives'-tongues because " this tree is the matter whereof women's tongues were made, as the poets and some others report, which seldome cease waggling". If it was laid on a witch's grave the people of Russia thought she would not ride abroad. It was a symbol of fear because of its tremulous leaves.
The Aspen was a token of scandal, because its leaves, they said, were made from women's tongues. When Joseph and Mary were fleeing from Herod all the trees except the Aspen did homage, hence it was cursed. It is reputed also to have formed the wood of the Saviour's Cross. The sisters of Phaethon, bewailing his death on the shores of Eridanus, were changed into poplars.
On Midsummer Eve they fell the highest poplar in Sicily and drag it through the village, beating a drum.
Being ornamental and of quick growth it is much planted. Beavers are fond of the bark. The wood is smooth, soft, but durable.
Essential Specific Characters: 287. Populus tremula, L. - Tree, with suckers, leaves suborbicular, serrate, glabrous, young leaves downy, stigma erect, petiole compressed, long.