Pando - (I Spread)

When the Pando Clone was discovered, scientists named it with a Latin word that means “I spread.” An aspen clone starts with a single seed and spreads by sending up new shoots from the expanding root system. These shoots become trees that are genetically identical.

Pando, located about 1 mile southwest of Fish Lake on State Highway 25, is believed to be the largest organism ever found at nearly 13 million pounds. The clone spreads over 106 acres, consisting of over 40,000 individual trees.

Pando welcomes visitors coming to the Fish Lake Basin from the southwest on SR-25. In the summer the green, fluttering leaves symbolize the relief from summer’s heat that you get coming to the basin. In autumn the oranges and yellows of the leaves as they change color give a hint of the fall spectacular that is the Fish Lake Basin.

Visitors from many states, as well as other nations have travelled to central Utah to see and experience Pando, especially during the fall season when the leaves turn to yellow and orange. In 2006 the U.S. Postal Service honored the Pando Clone as one of the “40 Wonders of America” with a stamp in its commemoration.

And yet, Pando is struggling. Like many stands of aspen, disease and insect infestation coupled with years of fire suppression and hungry mouths have taken their toll. However, employees of the Fishlake National Forest along with partner organizations are doing something about it.

Funded in part through Title II of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act, partners have fenced off approximately 67 acres of the Pando aspen clone to prevent new shoots and saplings from being eaten.

Since the fence was completed, a number of treatments are being used to stimulate regeneration of young aspen.  Treatments include the following:

  • Burning—this includes under-burning of common juniper understory, which exists as discrete ground-cover layers throughout the clone. 
  • Cutting—in addition to clearing the trees and vegetation close to the fence line, selected areas will be cut to remove overstory, allowing additional sunlight for new shoots, and stimulate regeneration of young sprouts. Cut trees not necessary for protection of regeneration will be moved to an area outside of the fence and will be available for firewood. 
  • Ripping of aspen roots—this involves mechanically severing aspen roots using a dozer-mounted ripper with a single line, single pass pattern over the selected areas in an attempt to stimulate aspen suckering. 

Monitoring of the fencing and treatments will be implemented to determine the most effective means of regenerating aspen within the clone.

Check out the video below for additional information about Pando and restoration efforts underway.

If you're looking for more information about Aspen trees, check out these additional sources: