Subalpine larch

Silhouette - subalpine larch
  • Latin name: Larix lyallii Parl.
  • French name: Mélèze subalpin
  • Synonym(s): Timberline larch , alpine larch
  • Taxonomic Serial Number: 183416
Description

Leaves

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

Form

  • Somewhat stiff
  • 4-sided in cross-section
  • 30–40 per tuft

Length

  • 4–5 cm

Colour

  • Pale bluish-green
  • Sometimes remaining green for 2 seasons on trees up to 20 years old

Buds

Form

  • Scales with a dense fringe of hairs sometimes hiding the bud

Twigs

Form

  • Stout, tough, densely hairy
  • Dwarf shoots often several centimetres long, longer than those of other larches
  • Dwarf shoots often occur as the new growth on long shoots

Seed cones (immature)

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

Length

  • 10–15 mm

Colour

  • Deep purplish-red

Seed cones (mature)

  • Seed cone - subalpine larch

Form

  • Ovoid
  • Standing out from the twig in all directions

Length

  • 4-5 cm

Colour

  • Purplish-brown

Structure

  • Scales hairy, curving toward the base of the cone
  • Bracts fringed, extending beyond scales, with tips curving toward base of cone

Timing

  • Seed crops are infrequent
  • Seedlings rarely found

Seeds

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

Length

  • Seed about 3 mm
  • Seed wing 6 mm

Bark

Form

  • Thin, smooth when young
  • Becoming thicker (2–3 cm), with irregularly shaped scaly plates

Colour

  • Gray to yellowish-grey when young, becoming reddish

Size

Height

  • To 12 m

Diameter

  • To 50 cm

Maximum age

  • Several hundred years

Tree form

  • Silhouette - subalpine larch

Forest-grown

Trunk

  • Short, sturdy, and tapering rapidly
  • Dead branch stubs and parts of branches scattered along the trunk

Crown

  • Ragged
  • Principal branches irregularly spaced
  • Long, gnarled, thick near the trunk, wide-spreading
  • Often drooping with upturned tips
  • Needles mostly confined to the end of the branch
  • Size and form depend on the growing conditions
  • Stunted under severe conditions
  • Large and handsome under favourable conditions

Root system

  • Deep-rooted, windfirm

Habitat

Site

  • Elevations of 1500–2200 m, higher than any other tree
  • Often forming the alpine tree line
  • Grows on acidic gravelly soils

Associated species

  • In small, open, pure stands above 1500 m to the alpine tree line
  • At lower elevations mixed with subalpine fir, Engelmann spruce, mountain hemlock, whitebark pine

Range

Southern British Columbia and Alberta

Insects and diseases

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

Photos
  • Subalpine larch
Distribution map
Distribution map - subalpine larch
Date modified: