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LARIX laricina

Image of Larix laricina

James H. Schutte

Family

Pinaceae

Botanical Name

LARIX laricina

Plant Common Name

Eastern Larch, Tamarack

General Description

Illuminating the fall landscape with golden yellow needles, tamarack reaches skyward with its tall, open-branched, pyramid-like form. A tree native to much of Canada and the far northern United States, it is a relatively slow-growing deciduous conifer that thrives where soils are moist and summers cool. It is often found growing in bogs alongside wild blueberries and cranberries.

The needles are green to blue-green, short, three-sided and arranged in spiraled clusters atop short stubby spurs. In general, the tree's branches are horizontal, but the smaller branchlets tend to droop. The male and female cones appear on the outer branches in late spring. The mature female cones are small, egg-shaped, tan, and remain on the trees through the winter and following spring. The foliage turns glorious shades of yellow and gold when the late-summer or fall nights become chilly. Once the needles drop, the bare tree has a coarse, irregular, upright skeletal shape that looks picturesque against the winter sky.

Provide a full sun exposure for the tamarack and place it in moist, well-drained, acid soil. It is tolerant of wet, boggy soils as well. It is difficult to locate in the nursery trade, but if obtained it should only be planted where winters are cold and summers cool and moderate. Tamarack resents deep shade, root disturbance, drought and pollution and therefore is best planted in natural areas where they will not be disturbed.

Dwarf cultivars are ornamentally interesting, including the very blue-needled 'Blue Sparkler' and varying formed 'Deborah Waxman', 'Lanark' and 'Newport Beauty', which is particularly small.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    5 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    1 - 4

  • Sunset Zone

    A1, A2, A3, 1a, 1b, 2a

  • Plant Type

    Needled or Scaled Evergreen

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun

  • Height

    30'-80' / 9.1m - 24.4m (45)

  • Width

    15'-30' / 4.6m - 9.1m (25)

  • Bloom Time

    Late Spring

  • Native To

    North America, North-Central United States, Western United States, Canada

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Average

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Wet Site

  • Growth Rate

    Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water, Ample Water

  • Habit

    Pyramidal

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    None

  • Fruit Color

    Tan, Sandy Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Light Green, Blue Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Light Green, Blue Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Yellow, Gold

  • Bark Color

    Sienna, Gray

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Fine

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    Yes

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Fissured

  • Usage

    Bog Garden, Feature Plant, Screening / Wind Break

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Birds

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes