European Larch
(Larix decidua)
Simple
Needle/Flattened
Needle
Clusters, deciduous

leaves

Winter twig
Winter twig

Male and Female cones
Male and Female cones

cones

tree

distribution map

The leaves are bright-green, flat and needle-like, 12-30mm long. Some are in clusters on short shoots, whilst others grow singly on long shoots. They turn a rich gold in autumn.

ID check

Larch is a deciduous, coniferous tree up to 50 m high, with a greyish-brown bark, falling off in small plates. It is widely planted but now is regenerating naturally from seed in many places.

The male and female flowers appear in April and grow separately on the same tree (monoecious), but on the same branch. The females are loganberry coloured. The males are yellow.

The upright, egg-shaped cones are 2-3.5 cm long and made up of 40-50 scales and are hairy on the outside when young.

The closely related Japanese larch (also planted) has leaves with two conspicuous white lines beneath.

Facts

  • The timber is prized for furniture-making, boat-building, wall-panelling and has many other uses.

  • Larches are vulnerable to spring frost and larch canker is caused by a fungus, which can kill the trees.

  • It is a native of the mountains of Europe, introduced to Britain about 1620.

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