European larch is a large deciduous conifer, with a conical crown and horizontal branches that turn up at the tips.Read more about Tree, Bark, Twigs
Leaves are deciduous needles grouped in bundles of 30 or more.Read more about Leaves
Pollen cones are yellow or reddish brown and hang downward on the branch.Read more about Pollen cones
Seed cones are woody when mature and stand erect on the branch.Read more about Seed cones
European larch is a large deciduous conifer, up to 30 m (98') high and 1 m (39") in diameter, with a conical crown.
Bark is grey and scaly on young trees. On older trees, the bark is brown, with deep fissures that expose reddish-brown inner bark.
As they mature, the seed cones turn from red to green. Each seed cone is composed of 35 - 50 overlapping rounded scales.
Distribution and habitat
European larch is native to northern Europe, and mountainous regions of central Europe, from southeastern France to Austria. It was introduced to North America during colonial times.
European larch is capable of growing at high altitude. Because logging is uncommon on high mountains, some trees growing on them have been estimated to be around 1,000 years old.
Derivation of names
The genus name, Larix, comes from the Celtic word lar, meaning fat, in reference to the tree's oily wood. The species name decidua, means deciduous, from the Latin decidere, meaning to fall, a reference to the leaves.
While the majority of conifers are evergreen, larches are among those that are deciduous, dropping their needles every year. Other deciduous conifers include dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides), which is native to Asia, and tamarack (Larix laricina), a sister species which is native to North America. Tamarack can be distingished from European larch by its seed cones which are half the size, up to 1.7 cm (1/2"). European larch is more commonly seen as a cultivated tree.
European larch is an important timber tree and a source of turpentine in Europe. The wood of European larch is fairly durable and has been used in the production of charcoal, railway ties, utility poles, and shipbuilding. Extracts from European larch bark have been used to tan leather.
European larch's place in Toronto's urban forest
European larch is sometimes planted in city parks. It is similar in appearance to the native tamarack, which is found in some Toronto ravines. However, European larch is much better adapted to urban conditions. Like tamarack, its needles provide a colourful fall display before they are shed for the winter.
European larch is mostly suited to larger sites and is not shade tolerant. It requires moist, well-drained, deep soil.
Pests and diseases: European larch may be affected by various cankers, which appear on the outer bark and can cause defoliation. Several insect pests, including the larch case-bearer and the Japanes beetle feed on the needles; early detection and spraying may elimate some of them.
Links to maps at Canadian Tree Tours: