Larch is any of the coniferous trees belonging to the genus Larix categorized under the family Pinaceae. Although these are classified as conifers, larches turn yellow and lose their needles in the autumn or fall just like deciduous trees. These are medium-sized trees with the typical pyramidal canopy of conifers. They are found in places with cold climates and plenty of moisture.
List of Different Types of Larch Trees
The Larix genus is primarily divided into two groups, including the North American species and Eurasian species, out of which the latter is subdivided into the northern short-bracted and southern long-bracted species. According to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Missouri Botanical Garden, there are ten different species of larch.
North American Species
- Eastern Larch or Tamarack (Larix laricina)
- Subalpine Larch (Larix lyallii)
- Western Larch (Larix occidentalis)
Northern Short-Bracted Species
- European Larch (Larix decidua)
- Siberian Larch (Larix sibirica)
- Dahurian Larch (Larix gmelinii)
- Japanese Larch (Larix kaempferi)
Southern Long-Bracted Species
- Chinese Larch (Larix potaninii)
- Master’s Larch (Larix mastersiana)
- Himalayan Larch (Larix griffithii)
Aside from the abovementioned species, several hybrids exist, including Larix x czekanowskii, Larix x marschlinsii, Larix x maritima, Larix x stenophylla, and Larix x lubarskii.
Some cultivars of European larch, such as the dwarf spreading ‘Corley’ and the weeping ‘Pendula’, along with the cultivated varieties of eastern larch, including the globe-shaped ‘Lanark’ and the much smaller ‘Newport Beauty’ make lovely ornamental plants.
|Tree Type||Coniferous, deciduous|
|Identification||Height: 65-150 ft
Leaves: Light green, needle-like, slender, 2-5 cm long
Trunk Diameter: 3-5 ft
Bark: Reddish-brown, gray, finely cracked, wrinkled
Female Cones: Small, erect, 1-9 cm long, purple or green, becoming brown when they ripen
Branches: Mid-level branches are almost horizontal, lower-level branches may droop
Crown: Conical, with sparse branches
Male cones: Orange-yellowish, fall after pollination
|Distribution||North America, northern Siberia, Europe, mountainous regions of Asia including Japan and China|
|Habitat||Mountainous regions of temperate zones, northernmost boreal zones|
|USDA Hardiness Zone||2b-9b|
|Growth Rate||Moderate to fast depending on the species, 24-36 inches annually|
|Lifespan||600-800 years on average, but some can live for up to 1000 years|
|Growing Conditions||Sunlight: Six hours of full sun or partial shade
Soil: Tolerates acidic, basic, and neutral soils rich in organic matter
Water: Needs regular watering to keep the soil moist
|Drought Tolerance||Low to moderate, varies across species|
|Diseases & Pests||Fungal canker, wood, root, and crown rots, fungal rusts; larch casebearer, woolly larch adelgid, spittlebugs|
|Propagation||From stem cuttings|
|Wildlife Value||Red squirrels, lesser redpoll, and the siskin eat the seeds, black grouse eats the immature cones, caterpillars feed on the cone scales and foliage|
|Uses||Waterproof, durable wood for interior paneling and exterior cladding of houses and buildings, knot-free timber for building small boats and yachts|
|IUCN Conservation Status||Species like European larch and western larch are listed as Least Concern|
- Dahurian larches are incredibly cold hardy and can grow in the topsoil above permafrost.
- The ‘Pendula’ cultivars are not planted near busy streets in the city because they are affected by pollution.
- Alpine larches in Manning Provincial Park, British Columbia, are among the oldest living larches. Some of those trees are believed to have lived for more than 1,900 years.