Larix decidua - European Larch
Family: Pinaceae

Hear the scientific name

Larches are unusual in that they are conifers that lose their leaves in the autumn. Before the leaves drop, they turn a spectacular yellow. Larches are often the last trees to color in the autumn.

F   E   A   T   U   R   E   S
  form2 form Form

-deciduous conifer tree

-pyramidal in form with a strong central leader in youth, but becoming irregular with age

-horizontal branching

-to 75' tall x 30' wide

-slow to medium rate of growth (12-18" per year)

-long-lived

Foliage

-flat, needle-like, 1" long, keeled below

-bright green provides good contrast with darker green of other plants

-leaves clustered on small spurs or arranged spirally on strong terminal shoots

-cast moderate to light shade

-yellow autumn color

-among the last trees to turn color in autumn

-one of the few deciduous conifers (along with Taxodium distichum - Bald Cypress and Metasequoia glyptostroboides - Dawn Redwood)

Flowers

-monoecious

-develop with the foliage in the spring

-staminate (male) are yellow

-pistillate (female) are red

Fruit
fruit

-small upright cones that appear on trees after 20 yrs. or so

-may persist on the tree for several years

Twig
twig

-slender, glabrous, yellowish brown

-many short spurs in spiral arrangement

-horizontal branches with pendulous new growth

trunk Trunk

-single main trunk with bark that is dark gray-brown in rough, loose, scaly plates

-branches droop as the tree grows

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Culture

-full sun to partial sun, but protected from harsh, cold winds

-performs best in light sandy soils that are slightly acidic

-tolerates moist and clay soils but not wet areas

-easily transplanted

-casebearers and sawflies may be serious pests

-propagated by seeds, grafts, and cuttings

-limited availability in B& B

Hardiness

-zones 4 to 6

Origin

-native to Europe

U   S   A   G   E
 

Assets

-effective winter display

-graceful form

-attractive early spring color

Liabilities

-slow growth

-does not tolerate heat well

-cones may be a litter problem

-somewhat susceptible to ice breakage

Function

-specimen, massing (but with ample space between plants)

-in parks and large areas

-especially effective in winter

Texture

-fine texture in foliage and when bare

-open density in foliage and when bare

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Varieties and Cultivars - Search OSU PlantFacts for additional plants in this species

Alternates

-pyramidal deciduous conifers (e.g. Taxodium distichum and Metasequoia glyptostroboides)

 


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