Larches are conifers in the genus Larix, which is in the Pine family. They grow in lowlands at higher latitudes and on mountains further south. Larches are among the dominant trees in the immense forests of Russia and Canada.

The European larch, a.k.a. Common larch, or Larix decidua, is native to the mountains of central Europe, in the Alps and Carpathians, with some lowland populations in northern Poland and southern Lithuania.

European larch is a medium-size conifer that grows from 60 to 100 feet tall, although in garden settings it is usually in the lower range. Like most conifers it has a pyramidal shape which becomes broader and more irregular with age. The main branches are level to upswept, with the side branches often pendulous. Unlike most conifers European larch is deciduous, like Bald cypress, Taxodium distichum, ,and sheds its needles in autumn. And one of a Larches best features is its soft green foliage, which appears in tuft-like clusters and is very inviting to touch. And these needles (again like Bald cypress) turn a beautiful golden yellow before dropping. European larch also bears quite pretty reddish brown cones which are covered with brown hairs and are very ornamental. The bark on mature trees is scaly, furrowed and reddish-brown.

European larch does best when grown in moist, gravelly loams in full sun. It is tolerant of light shade, but not full shade, dry soils or pollutants. Since it is native to cool mountainous regions from the Alps to the Carpathians it will thrive in areas of cool summers and cold winters, such as the northern US, most of Canada, the higher elevations of the UK and cooler parts of New Zealand.

Larch (European)


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