Western larch

Silhouette - western larch
  • Latin name: Larix occidentalis Nutt.
  • French name: Mélèze de l'Ouest
  • Synonym(s): Western tamarack
  • Taxonomic Serial Number: 183417
Description

Leaves

  • Needle cross section - western larch
  • Dwarf shoot with tuft of needles - western larch

Form

  • Flattened above, keeled below, cross-section triangular
  • 15–30 per tuft

Length

  • 3–5 cm

Colour

  • Shiny pale green

Buds

Form

  • Fringed scales on terminal bud
  • Downy on dwarf shoots

Colour

  • Dark brown

Twigs

Form

  • Hairy at first, becoming hairless during the summer

Colour

  • Orange-brown during the summer

Seed cones (immature)

  • Cone scale; outer surface showing bract position (left), inner surface with winged seed (right) - western larch

Colour

  • Red

Length

  • 10–20 mm

Seed cones (mature)

  • Seed cone - western larch

Form

  • Ovoid

Length

  • 3–5 cm

Colour

  • Reddish-brown

Structure

  • About 30 scales
  • Hairy on the lower side
  • Tips curving toward cone base when the cone is open
  • Bract tip extends beyond the scale

Seeds

  • Bract  (left); winged seed inner surface (right) - western larch

Length

  • Seed 5 mm
  • Seed wing 8 mm

Bark

Form

  • Scaly when young
  • Becoming thick (up to 15 cm)
  • Deeply furrowed with flat flaky ridges

Colour

  • Reddish-brown

Wood

Texture

  • Heavy, hard, strong

Colour

  • Heartwood brown
  • Sapwood yellowish-white

Morphology

  • Heartwood moderately resistant to decay
  • Sapwood narrow

Uses

  • Pulpwood, lumber, piling, flooring
  • Interior and exterior finishing

Size

Height

  • To 70 m

Diameter

  • To 200 cm

Maximum age

  • 400 years

Tree form

  • Silhouette - western larch

Open-grown

Crown

  • Principal branches often drooping in the lower crown

Forest-grown

Trunk

  • Trunk usually branch-free over much of its length

Crown

  • Short, narrow, pyramidal
  • Principal branches usually horizontal

Root system

  • Deep, wide-spreading

Habitat

Site

  • Deep, well-drained, coarsely textured, moist soils

Associated species

  • Small pure stands may form at elevations between 400 and 1500 m
  • Usually mixed with Douglas-fir, western white pine, lodgepole pine, Engelmann spruce, subalpine fir, western hemlock, ponderosa pine

Range

Southeastern British Columbia, eastward into Alberta

Insects and diseases

Insects and diseases that are found most frequently and/or that cause the most damage in our Canadian forests.

Photos
  • Western larch
  • Western larch
  • Western larch
  • Western larch
  • Western larch
  • Western larch
Distribution map
Distribution map - western larch
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