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Overview

Brief Summary

Pinaceae -- Pine family

    William F. Johnston

    Tamarack (Larix laricina), also called eastern, American, or  Alaska larch, and hackmatack, is a small- to medium-sized deciduous  conifer extending from the Atlantic to central Alaska. One of the largest  tamaracks recorded is in Maine and measures about 94 cm (36.9 in) in  d.b.h. and 29 m (95 ft) in height. The heavy, durable wood is used  principally for pulpwood, but also for posts, poles, rough lumber, and  fuelwood. Wildlife use the tree for food and nesting; it is also  esthetically appealing and has significant potential as an ornamental.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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William F. Johnston

Source: Silvics of North America

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Comprehensive Description

Alternative names

American larch, eastern larch, Alaska larch, hackmatack

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USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center & the Biota of North America Program

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Description

General: Pine Family (Pinaceae). Native trees growing to 20 meters tall, strongly self-pruning, with a straight, slender trunk and narrow, open, pyramidal crown that occupies one-third to one-half the bole length 25-30 years; branches whorled, horizontal or slightly ascending; short (spur) shoots prominent on twigs 2 years or more old. Bark of young trees is gray, smooth, becoming reddish brown and scaly. Leaves are deciduous, needlelike, 1-2 cm long, pale blue-green, produced in clusters on short shoots or singly along the long shoots, yellowing and shed in the fall. Seed cones are 1-2 cm long, upright; seeds winged, the bodies 2-3 mm long. The common name is the Algonquian Indian name for the plant.

Variation within the species: the Alaskan populations of Larix laricina have been described as a different species (Larix alaskensis = Larix laricina var. alaskensis) on the basis of narrower cone scales and bracts, but the variability is now generally recognized as within the range of other populations of the species. Genetic differences in photoperiodic response, germination, and growth patterns have been documented among trees taken from various parts of the species range. Artificial hybrids have been created between tamarack (L. laricina) and two related species: Japanese larch (L. leptolepis) and European larch (L. decidua).

Tamarack differs from the other two native species of larch (Larix species) in its shorter leaves (of short shoots), shorter seed cones with fewer scales, longer scales than bracts at maturity, and broader, more northern distribution. The larches are the only deciduous conifers besides the bald cypress species.

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USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center & the Biota of North America Program

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Distribution

Tamarack is distributed across most of northern North America. It
occurs from Newfoundland and Labrador northwest across northern Canada
to the northern Yukon Territory, south to northeastern British Columbia
and central Alberta, southeast to southern Minnesota, Wisconsin, and
northeastern Illinois, and east to New England [32]. A major disjunct
population occurs in the interior of Alaska between the Brooks Range to
the north and Alaska Range to the south [26]. It also occurs locally in
the mountains of West Virginia and western Maryland.
  • 32. Little, Elbert L., Jr. 1979. Checklist of United States trees (native and naturalized). Agric. Handb. 541. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 375 p. [2952]
  • 26. Johnston, William F. 1990. Larix laricina (Du Roi) K. Koch tamarack. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 1. Conifers. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 141-151. [13379]

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Occurrence in North America

AK CT IL IN ME MD MA MI MN NH
NJ NY OH PA VT WV WI AB BC LB
MB NB NF NS ON PE PQ SK YT

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Tamarack has one of the widest ranges of all North American conifers.  Its main range extends from Newfoundland and Labrador west along the  northern limit of trees, and across the Continental Divide in northern  Yukon Territory (52); then south in the Mackenzie River drainage to  northeastern British Columbia and central Alberta; and east to southern  Manitoba, southern Minnesota, southern Wisconsin, extreme northeastern  Illinois, northern Indiana, northern Ohio, northern Pennsylvania, northern  New Jersey, northern Connecticut, and Maine. It also grows locally in the  mountains of northern West Virginia and adjacent western Maryland. A major  disjunct area of tamarack is found in interior Alaska, in the Yukon and  Kuskokwim River basins between the Brooks Range on the north and the  Alaska Range on the south; three minor areas are near the Alaska-Yukon  border.

     
- The native range of tamarack.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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William F. Johnston

Source: Silvics of North America

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Across North America, from St. Pierre and Miquelon, Newfoundland, and New Brunswick, north and west to Keewatin, Mackenzie, British Columbia, and Yukon, with disjunct populations in northern Alaska; in northeastern United States from Maine to West Virginia and Minnesota. For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.

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USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center & the Biota of North America Program

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Trees to 20m; trunk to 0.6m diam.; crown narrow, branches sparse. Bark of young trees gray, smooth, becoming reddish brown and scaly, inner layer red-purple. Branches horizontal or slightly ascending; twigs orange-brown, glabrous. Buds dark red, subtended by ring of hairlike bracts, glabrous. Leaves of short shoots 1--2cm × 0.5--0.8mm, 0.3--0.5mm thick, keeled abaxially, rounded adaxially, pale blue-green; resin canals 10--20µm from margins. Seed cones 1--2 × 0.5--1cm, usually on curved stalks 2--5 × 2--2.5mm, sometimes sessile on long shoots; scales 10--30, margins entire, brown-strigose to -tomentose at base; bracts mucronate or tipped by awn to 1mm, hidden by mature scales, at first dark red to violet, later turning yellow-brown. Pollen 53--65µm diam. Seeds with bodies 2--3mm, wings 4--6mm. 2 n =24.
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Description

More info for the term: tree

Tamarack is a native, deciduous, coniferous, small- to medium-sized
upright tree. It has a straight bole with a narrow pyramidal crown.
Tamarack is a good self-pruner and by 25 to 30 years of age, trees are
generally clear of branches for one-half to two-thirds of their bole
[26]. Trees generally reach 50 to 75 feet (15-23 m) in height and 14 to
20 inches (46-51 cm) d.b.h. but are occasionally larger. In Alaska,
trees are often stunted, reaching heights of only 10 feet (3 m) and
diameters of 3 inches (8 cm), but on good sites mature trees are
generally 30 to 60 feet (9-18 m) tall and 4 to 10 inches (10-25 cm)
d.b.h. [26,49]. The maximum age for tamarack is about 180 years,
although older trees have been found [26].

Tamarack has 1-inch-long (2.5 cm) needles that occur in clusters of 10
to 20 on dwarf twigs [22] and turn yellow in the fall before they are
shed. Erect mature cones are about 0.5 to 0.75 inch (1.3-1.9 cm) long
[26]. Tamarack bark is smooth when young but becomes rough and scaley
on older trees. The bark is thin, only about 0.25 to 0.5 inch (0.6-1.2
cm) thick on mature trees [28]. The root system is typically shallow
and wide spreading. Rooting depth rarely exceeds 1.5 feet (46 cm), but
the roots commonly spread over areas greater in radius than the tree
height [7]. On wet and very wet peatlands in Alberta, roots are
generally restricted to the upper 8 inches (20 cm) of soil on hummocky
positions [31].
  • 7. Curtis, John T. 1959. The vegetation of Wisconsin. Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Press. 657 p. [7116]
  • 22. Hosie, R. C. 1969. Native trees of Canada. 7th ed. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Forestry Service, Department of Fisheries and Forestry. 380 p. [3375]
  • 26. Johnston, William F. 1990. Larix laricina (Du Roi) K. Koch tamarack. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 1. Conifers. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 141-151. [13379]
  • 28. Johnston, William F.; Carpenter, Eugene M. 1985. Tamarack: An American wood. FS-268. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 7 p. [9119]
  • 31. Lieffers, V. J.; Rothwell, R. L. 1987. Rooting of peatland black spruce and tamarack in relation to depth of water table. Canadian Journal of Botany. 65: 817-821. [19931]
  • 49. Viereck, Leslie A.; Little, Elbert L., Jr. 1972. Alaska trees and shrubs. Agric. Handb. 410. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 265 p. [6884]

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Physical Description

Tree, Deciduous, Monoecious, Habit erect, Trees without or rarely having knees, Tree with bark rough or scaly, Young shoots 3-dimensional, Buds not resinous, Leaves needle-like, Leaves alternate, Needle-like leaf margins entire (use magnification), Leaf apex acute, Leaves < 5 cm long, Leaves < 10 cm long, Leaves not blue-green, Needle-like leaves flat, Needle-like leaves not twisted, Needle-like leaf habit erect, Needle-like leaf habit drooping, Needle-like leaves per fascicle mostly 1, Needle-like leaves per fascicle > 10, Needle-like leaf sheath early deciduous, Needle-like leaf sheath persistent, Twigs glabrous, Twigs not viscid, Twigs with peg-like projections or large fascicles after needles fall, Berry-like cones orange, Woody seed cones < 5 cm long, Bracts of seed cone included, Seeds brown, Seeds yellow, Seeds winged, Seeds unequally winged, Seed wings prominent, Seed wings equal to or broader than body.
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Stephen C. Meyers

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Diagnostic Description

Synonym

Pinus laricina DuRoi, Diss. Observ. Bot., 49. 1771; Larix alaskensis W.Wight; L. laricina var. alaskensis (W.Wight) Raup
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Type Information

Holotype for Larix alaskensis W. Wight
Catalog Number: US 379803
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): A. Collier
Year Collected: 1902
Locality: Tanana, Yukon valley., Alaska, United States, North America
  • Holotype: Wight, W. F. 1907. Smithsonian Misc. Collect. 50: 174.
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© Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany

Source: National Museum of Natural History Collections

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This is mostly a species of the lowland boreal and subarctic forests across Canada, it is less common in medium high mountains. Its altitudinal range is from 1 m to 1,220 m a.s.l., but in British Columbia and Alaska it does not occur above 520 m. Tamarack will grow on a variety of acid soils, but is found most commonly on peaty soils in swamps and muskegs. The climate in its vast range is likewise varied, ranging from cool, moist maritime on the Atlantic coast, to extremely dry, cold continental in the interior. It occurs locally in pure stands (maritime), but elsewhere commonly with Picea mariana, P. glauca, Abies balsamea, or Pinus banksiana; boreal broad leaved trees such as Populus tremuloides and P. balsamifera occur usually after disturbance, Betula may be represented with tree and shrub species. The shrub layer is often well developed, with various ericaceous species.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Source: IUCN

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Habitat characteristics

More info for the terms: organic soils, peatland, shrub, shrubs, swamp, tree

Tamarack is most commonly found on cold, wet to moist, poorly drained
sites such as swamps, bogs, and muskegs [22,26,44]. It is also found
along streams, lakes, swamp borders, and occasionally on upland sites.
It becomes more common on drier sites in the northern portion of its
range where it is found on ridges and benches and other upland locations
[26]. In British Columbia, it grows as an upland tree on cool, moist
north slopes as well as on wet organic sites [26]. In interior Alaska,
tamarack is generally restricted to wet and cold sites underlain by
shallow permafrost but occasionally grows in warmer, well-drained
floodplains and upland forests dominated by white spruce (Picea glauca)
[4].

Soils: Tamarack can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions but most
commonly grows on wet to moist organic soils, such as sphagnum or woody
peat, and is especially common on nutrient-poor, acid peatlands [9,26].
In Minnesota, tamarack occurs on a wide variety of peatland types, from
rich swamps to raised bogs, and is an indicator of weakly minerotrophic
sites (pH 4.3-5.8, Ca 3-10 ppm, Ca + Mg 5-13 ppm) [21]. In
Saskatchewan, tamarack grows on peatland sites with a wide range of
fertility and moisture regimes; it is most common on those with a pH
between 6.0 and 6.9 [23]. Although most commonly occurring on
peatlands, tamarack actually grows best on well-drained loamy soils
along streams, lakes, and seeps, and on mineral soils with a shallow
surface layer of organic matter [26]. However, tamarack is uncommon on
these sites in the southern portion of its range because it is easily
outcompeted by other trees. It is more common on mineral soil in the
north.

Stand characteristics and associated trees: Because the species is
intolerant of shade, tamarack stands are usually even-aged [13]. They
occur on wetter sites than black spruce stands. Across tamarack's range
black spruce is its most common associate. These two species often form
mixed stands on peatlands. Throughout much of boreal Canada, other
associates include balsam fir (Abies balsamea), white spruce, paper
birch (Betula papyrifera), and quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides)
[22,26]. In the Lake States and New England, common associates include
northern white-cedar (Thuja occidentalis), balsam fir, eastern white
pine (Pinus strobus), red pine (P. resinosa), quaking aspen, black ash
(Fraxinus nigra), white spruce, and red maple (Acer rubrum) [7,44]. In
Alaska, tamarack is usually found with black spruce and paper birch but
almost never with aspen [26].

Understory: Tamarack stands tend to cast light shade and have a dense
undergrowth of shrubs. Tall shrubs associated with tamarack include bog
birch (Betula glandulosa), swamp birch (B. pumila), speckled alder
(Alnus incana ssp. rugosa), willows (Salix spp.), and red-osier dogwood
(Cornus stolonifera). Low shrub associates include Labrador-tea (Ledum
groenlandicum), bog-rosemary (Andromeda glaucophylla), leatherleaf
(Chamaedaphne calyculata), and blueberries and huckleberries (Vaccinium
spp.). The ground is usually covered with sphagnum and other mosses
[26].
  • 13. Eyre, F. H., ed. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters. 148 p. [905]
  • 4. Brown, K. R.; Zobel, D. B.; Zasada, J. C. 1988. Seed dispersal, seedling emegence, and early survival of Larix laricina (DuRoi) K. Koch in the Tanana Valley, Alaska. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 18: 306-314. [7220]
  • 7. Curtis, John T. 1959. The vegetation of Wisconsin. Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Press. 657 p. [7116]
  • 9. Damman, Antoni W. H.; French, Thomas W. 1987. The ecology of peat bogs of the glaciated northeastern United States: a community profile. Biological Report 85(7.16). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Research and Development, National Wetlands Research Center. 100 p. [9238]
  • 21. Heinselman, M. L. 1970. Landscape evolution, peatland types and the environment in the Lake Agassiz Peatlands Natural Area, Minnesota. Ecological Monographs. 40(2): 235-261. [8378]
  • 22. Hosie, R. C. 1969. Native trees of Canada. 7th ed. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Forestry Service, Department of Fisheries and Forestry. 380 p. [3375]
  • 23. Jeglum, John K. 1971. Plant indicators of pH and water level in peatlands at Candle Lake, Saskatchewan. Canadian Journal of Botany. 49: 1661-1676. [7450]
  • 26. Johnston, William F. 1990. Larix laricina (Du Roi) K. Koch tamarack. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 1. Conifers. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 141-151. [13379]
  • 44. Rudolf, Paul O. 1966. Botanical and commercial range of tamarack in the Lake States. Res. Note NC-17. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. 4 p. [9118]

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Key Plant Community Associations

More info for the terms: bog, tree

In northern Minnesota and throughout much of Canada, tamarack forms
extensive pure stands. Throughout the rest of its range in the United
States it forms isolated pure stands or is a minor component of other
forest types [26]. In the northeastern United States, tamarack is
characteristically found in open and forested bogs, but it seldom
dominates in forested bog communities [9]. Throughout its range, black
spruce (Picea mariana) is usually associated with tamarack. In Alaska,
black spruce and tamarack may codominate wet, lowland sites with shallow
permafrost [48].

Tamarack is sometimes a dominant tree in seral lowland communities. It
has been listed as a community type (cts) dominant in the following
classifications:

Area Classification Authority

AK general veg. cts Viereck & Dyrness 1980

AB general veg. cts Moss 1955
PQ: ST. Lawrence general veg. pas, cts Dansereau 1959
Valley
  • 9. Damman, Antoni W. H.; French, Thomas W. 1987. The ecology of peat bogs of the glaciated northeastern United States: a community profile. Biological Report 85(7.16). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Research and Development, National Wetlands Research Center. 100 p. [9238]
  • 26. Johnston, William F. 1990. Larix laricina (Du Roi) K. Koch tamarack. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 1. Conifers. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 141-151. [13379]
  • 48. Viereck, L. A.; Dyrness, C. T.; Batten, A. R.; Wenzlick, K. J. 1992. The Alaska vegetation classification. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-286. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 278 p. [2431]

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Habitat: Plant Associations

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):

More info for the term: bog

K093 Great Lakes spruce - fir forest
K094 Conifer bog
K095 Great Lakes pine forest
K096 Northeastern spruce - fir forest

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Habitat: Ecosystem

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):

FRES10 White - red - jack pine
FRES11 Spruce - fir
FRES17 Elm - ash - cottonwood

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Habitat: Cover Types

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):

1 Jack pine
5 Balsam fir
12 Black spruce
13 Black spruce - tamarack
33 Red spruce - balsam fir
37 Northern white cedar
38 Tamarack
39 Black ash - American elm - red maple
107 White spruce
201 White spruce
203 Balsam poplar
204 Black spruce
253 Black spruce - white spruce
254 Black spruce - paper birch

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Soils and Topography

Tamarack can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions but grows most  commonly on wet to moist organic soils (Histosols) such as sphagnum peat  and woody peat. The latter is usually better decomposed, has more nitrogen  and mineral nutrients, and is less acid than sphagnum peat. Tamarack grows  fairly well on extremely dry soils where these are shallow over bedrock or  where the water table is low, but it can die from drought on such sites.  The tree is found on mineral soils, especially Inceptisols and Entisols,  that range from heavy clay to coarse sand; thus texture does not seem to  be limiting. Although tamarack can grow well on calcareous soils, it is  not abundant on the limestone areas of eastern Ontario (27) and is rare on  those of the Gaspé Peninsula and Anticosti Island in Canada.

    Because it can withstand high soil moisture, high acidity, and low soil  temperature, tamarack is more abundant on peatlands than trees  characteristic of surrounding uplands. It grows best, however, on more  favorable sites such as moist but well-drained loamy soils along streams,  lakes, and swamps; seep areas; and mineral soils with a shallow surface  layer of organic matter (12). In Alaska tamarack grows well on upland  sites having wind-deposited loess soils (50).

    Tamarack is a characteristic tree of peatlands, especially in the  southern limits of its range. It is found on the full range of peatlands  from rich swamp (forested rich fen) to raised bog but is most  characteristic of poor swamps where the soil water is weakly enriched with  mineral nutrients (17). Farther north tamarack is still common on  peatlands (38); in Alaska it occurs especially on bogs underlain by  permafrost (perennially frozen soils) (50).

    Tamarack often grows on much drier sites in the northern part of its  range. Scattered individuals and sometimes stands are found on swamp  margins, on the banks of streams and lakes, and on low ridges and benches  and other upland sites. In the Hudson Bay lowlands, tamarack grows on both  extensive fens (11) and beach ridges (38). In British Columbia it is often  an upland tree, growing on the cool moist north slopes of mountains as  well as in valley swamps.

    Tamarack grows on sites with about the same elevation throughout most of  its range. In eastern North America, however, the tree grows between sea  level and 1220 m (4,000 ft); in the Canadian Rockies and Alaska it grows  between about 180 and 520 m (600 and 1,700 ft) (12).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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William F. Johnston

Source: Silvics of North America

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Climate

Because of its wide distribution, tamarack grows under extremely varied  climatic conditions. Average January temperatures range from -30° to  -1° C (-22° to 30° F) and those of July from 13° to 24°  C (55° to 75° F). The lowest recorded temperatures range from  -29° to -62° C (-20° to -79° F); the highest, from 29°  to 43° C (85° to 110° F).

    Annual precipitation within the range of tamarack is also extremely  variable. It ranges from 180 mm (7 in) at Fort Yukon, AK, to 1400 mm (55  in) in eastern Canada. Of this, 75 to 355 mm (3 to 14 in) is in June,  July, and August. Snowfall has a similarly wide variation, from about 100  cm (40 in) in the District of Mackenzie in northwestern Canada to 510 cm  (200 in) near the Atlantic coast in Labrador and Quebec.

    The average frost-free period for tamarack ranges from probably less  than 75 days over much of its range to 120 days in interior Alaska and 180  days along its southern limits. The generally shorter growing season in  the northern latitudes is counterbalanced by longer periods of daylight  (12).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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William F. Johnston

Source: Silvics of North America

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Habitat & Distribution

Boreal forests in wet, poorly drained sphagnum bogs and muskegs, also on moist upland mineral soils; 0--1200m; St. Pierre and Miquelon; Alta., B.C., Man., N.B., Nfld., N.W.T., N.S., Ont., P.E.I., Que., Sask., Yukon; Alaska, Conn., Ill., Ind., Maine, Md., Mass., Mich., Minn., N.H., N.J., N.Y., Ohio, Pa., R.I., Vt., W.Va., Wis.
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Dispersal

Establishment

Adaptation: Tamarack grows in boreal forests in wet, poorly drained sphagnum bogs and muskegs, also on moist upland mineral soils, the drier sites in the northern part of its range, at elevations of 0-1200 meters. Because it can withstand high soil moisture, high acidity, and low soil temperature, it is more abundant on peatlands than trees characteristic of surrounding uplands.

Planting: Tamarack trees may bear viable seed at 12-15 years of age, but open-grown trees 50-150 years old produce the best cone crops. Good seed crops are produced at intervals of 3-6 years. Germination percentages in nature often are very low, because of predation by rodents and damage by fungi or bacteria.

The best seedbed is warm, moist mineral soil or organic soil with no brush but a light cover of grass or other herbaceous vegetation. For best growth, seedlings need full light and a constant water level. Early seedling mortality may be caused by damping-off, drought, drowning, and inadequate light.

Under favorable conditions, tamarack is the most rapidly growing boreal conifer until it reaches about 40-50 years old. Most trees show features of senescence by 150-180 years of age, but some are known to have reached 230-240 years, and one is known to be over 335 years.

Public Domain

USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center & the Biota of North America Program

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Associations

Associated Forest Cover

Tamarack forms extensive pure stands in the boreal region of Canada and  in northern Minnesota. In the rest of its United States range and in the  Maritime Provinces tamarack is found locally in both pure and mixed  stands. It is a major component in the forest cover types Tamarack  (Society of American Foresters Type 38) and Black Spruce-Tamarack (Type  13) and is a minor component in the following types (11):

      1    Jack Pine      5    Balsam Fir      12    Black Spruce      33    Red Spruce-Balsam Fir      37    Northern White Cedar      39    Black Ash-American Elm-Red Maple      107    White Spruce      203    Balsam Poplar      204    Black Spruce      253    Black Spruce-White Spruce      254    Black Spruce-Paper Birch        Black spruce (Picea mariana) is usually tamarack's main  associate in mixed stands on all sites. The other most common associates  include balsam fir (Abies balsamea), white spruce (Picea  glauca), and quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) in the boreal  region, and northern white-cedar (Thuja occidentalis), balsam fir,  black ash (Fraxinus nigra), and red maple (Acer rubrum) on  the better organic-soil (swamp) sites in the northern forest region (11).  In Alaska, quaking aspen and tamarack are almost never found together  (50). Additional common associates are American elm (Ulmus americana),  balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera), jack pine (Pinus  banksiana), paper birch (Betula papyrifera), Kenai birch (B.  papyrifera var. kenaica), and yellow birch (B.  alleghaniensis).

    Tamarack stands cast light shade and so usually have a dense undergrowth  of shrubs and herbs. Because the tree has an extensive range, a great  variety of shrubs is associated with it. Dominant tall shrubs include  dwarf (resin) and low (swamp) birch (Betula glandulosa and B.  pumila), willows (Salix spp.), speckled alder (Alnus  rugosa), and red-osier dogwood (Cornus stolonifera); low  shrubs include Labrador-tea (Ledum groenlandicum), bog-rosemary  (Andromeda glaucophylla), leatherleaf (Chamaedaphne  calyculata), and small cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccos) (see 12  for a more complete list). Characteristically the herbaceous cover  includes sedges (Carex spp.), cottongrass (Eriophorum spp.),  false Solomonseal (Smilacina trifolia), marsh cinquefoil (Potentilla  palustris), marsh-marigold (Caltha palustris), and bogbean  (Menyanthes trifoliata). Ground cover is usually composed of  sphagnum moss (Sphagnum spp.) and other mosses (11).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

William F. Johnston

Source: Silvics of North America

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Diseases and Parasites

Damaging Agents

Because its bark is thin, tamarack is highly  susceptible to fire damage, except perhaps in older, upland stands; and  because its roots are shallow, it is usually killed on peatlands by all  but very light burns. However, the habitat of tamarack-especially south of  the boreal forest-is normally wet enough to protect the tree from fire  (6). In the boreal forest the tamarack type apparently has a high  surface-fire hazard in spring but a low crown-fire hazard in pure stands   (35).

    Abnormally high water levels often kill tamarack stands, and those that  survive under such conditions usually grow very slowly. Other effects of  high water include dieback and the development of adventitious roots and  shoots (8). Wetland road crossings and beaver damming are the primary  causes of flooding. Road-caused flooding has killed tamarack or reduced  its growth on thousands of hectares in northern Minnesota (40); natural  gas and petroleum pipelines will probably have similar effects unless  cross drainage is provided (3).

    Strong winds can uproot large tamarack trees growing in swamps or other  wet sites where rooting is shallow. Compared with black spruce, however,  tamarack seems to be fairly windfirm.

    The larch sawfly is the most destructive insect enemy of tamarack.  Epidemics occur periodically across Canada and the northern United States  and have caused tremendous losses of merchantable tamarack throughout most  of the tree's range. Indications are that radial increment declines  markedly after 4 to 6 years of outbreak and trees die after 6 to 9 years  of moderate to heavy defoliation (9). In southeastern Manitoba and  northern Minnesota, however, imported parasites of the sawfly (especially  Olesicampe benefactor) have become established and should reduce  the frequency and duration of future outbreaks (42).

    The larch casebearer (Coleophora laricella) is also a serious  defoliator of tamarack. A native of Europe, it is now widely distributed  in eastern North America westward to southeastern Manitoba and the Lake  States. The larch casebearer attacks tamarack of all ages, and several  severe outbreaks have caused extensive mortality in some areas (49).  Outbreak severity has lessened in recent years, however, probably because  imported parasites of the casebearer have also become widely established  (34).

    Only a few other insects and related organisms (such as mites) that feed  on tamarack are known to sometimes cause serious injury. During an  outbreak the spruce budworm (Choristoneura fumiferana) can  severely damage tamarack where it grows along with balsam fir and white  spruce-the preferred hosts. The larch bud moth (Zeiraphera improbanahas had occasional short epidemics, and the spruce spider mite (Oligonychus  ununguis) is occasionally found in large numbers on tamarack. The  larch shoot moth (Argyresthia laricella) is widely distributed but  serious injury is unusual. One of the most common bark beetles attacking  tamarack is the eastern larch beetle (Dendroctonus simplex), but  it feeds mainly on weakened, dying, or dead trees. Warren's collar weevil  (Hylobius warreni), common in Canada, has killed pole-sized  tamarack in Michigan's Upper Peninsula (34,49).

    Several insects feed on tamarack cones and seeds, but little is known  about their importance. Those that feed inside cones include the spruce  coneworm (Dioryctria reniculelloides) and a seed chalcid (Megastigmus  laricis). Two defoliators that sometimes feed on tender young cones  during epidemics are the spruce budworm and the larch bud moth (16,34).  Cones were still being produced after 3 to 4 years' defoliation by the  larch sawfly in Canada and after 8 years of attack in northern Minnesota  (12).

    Tamarack is host to many pathogens, but none causes disease serious  enough to have an economic impact on its culture. The only common foliage  diseases are rusts, such as the leaf rust of poplar (Populus spp.) and  larch (Larix spp.) in eastern and central North America.  However, this rust, caused by the fungus Melampsora medusae, and  other rusts do little damage to tamarack (19,37). The needle-cast fungus  Hypodermella laricis has attacked tamarack in Ontario and has the  potential for local damage.

    Tamarack is essentially free of stem diseases. Eastern dwarf mistletoe  (Arceuthobium pusillum) is occasionally found on the tree (29),  but its witches' brooms are small on tamarack and occur only where the  tree is growing in mixture with infected black spruce (19).

    The root- and butt-rot fungi reported on tamarack include Armillaria (or  shoestring) root rot (Armillaria mellea), Scytinostroma galactinumred-brown butt rot (Phaeolus schweinitzii), and the false  velvet top fungus (Inonotus tomentosus) (19,47). They are not  aggressive killers on tamarack; however, flood-damaged trees are  particularly susceptible to attack by fungi such as Armillaria root rot  (8), and pole-sized trees have been killed by the false velvet top fungus.

    The principal heart-rot fungi of tamarack are brown trunk rot (Fomitopsis  officinalis) and red ring rot (Phellinus pini). Climacocystis  borealis causes a white mottled rot of tamarack in Canada (19).

    Snowshoe hares kill many tamarack seedlings in some areas of the Lake  States, Alberta, and Alaska (50). White-tailed deer and moose apparently  browse seedlings or saplings to a lesser extent. Porcupines commonly feed  on the inner bark and deform the stem or kill the tree. Many tamarack  stands have been damaged by this pest in the Lake States, Maine, and  eastern Canada (27). It can be especially damaging in plantations (48).  Red squirrels often cut cone-bearing branchlets, and birds such as the red  crossbill occasionally eat the seeds (12).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

William F. Johnston

Source: Silvics of North America

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General Ecology

Fire Management Considerations

More info for the term: shrubs

Tamarack establishes readily on sites where logging slash is burned but
poorly on sites where slash is untreated. On peatlands in Minnesota,
tamarack seedlings were abundant 6 years following broadcast burning of
black spruce-tamarack slash in clearcuts [24]. However, pure tamarack
slash is difficult to broadcast burn. Therefore, when cutting pure
tamarack stands, piling and burning slash is the option that best favors
tamarack reproduction [25].

In Wisconsin, prescribed burning has been conducted in conifer swamps
and muskegs to improve wildlife habitat. Prescribed burning killed
tamarack and other conifers in swamps, and improved feeding and nesting
habitat for game birds by converting these areas to swamps dominated by
sedges (Carex spp) and ericaceous shrubs [50].
  • 24. Johnston, William F. 1973. Tamarack seedlings prosper on broadcast burns in Minnesota peatland. Res. Note NC-153. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. 3 p. [12802]
  • 25. Johnston, William F. 1975. Reproducing lowland conifer forests. Journal of Forestry. 73: 17-20. [14277]
  • 50. Vogl, Richard J. 1964. The effects of fire on a muskeg in northern Wisconsin. Journal of Wildlife Management. 28(2): 317-329. [12170]

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Plant Response to Fire

More info for the terms: swamp, tree

Following fire, tamarack reestablishes via wind-dispersed seeds from
surviving trees in protected pockets or adjacent unburned areas. Burned
organic surfaces favor seedling establishment. Within a few years
tamarack reproduction is often localized and centered around areas of
surviving trees [37].

In northeastern British Columbia, tamarack seeded onto burned areas over
several years. Most seedlings established within 10 years after fire,
but additional establishment continued until 20 years after fire [41].
Postfire tamarack seedlings grow rapidly. Twenty-one years after a fire
in a tamarack-black spruce swamp in northeastern British Columbia,
tamarack seedlings were more than 2 times taller than black spruce
seedlings. Tamarack seedlings that established soon after the fire
averaged 7.9 feet (2.4 m) tall, while black spruce seedlings that
established at the same time were only 3.6 feet (1.1 m) tall [40].

Tamarack seedlings were abundant 6 years after clearcutting and
broadcast burning in mixed black spruce-tamarack stands in northern
Minnesota. Tamarack seedlings made up 43 percent of tree seedlings 66
feet (20 m) downwind from the uncut border, even though tamarack made up
only 27 percent of the seed trees (55 per acre [136/ha]). On this site,
4,200 tamarack seedlings averaging 21 inches (53 cm) in height were
established per acre (10,400/ha). On another cut where there were only
12 tamarack seed trees per acre (30/ha) at the uncut border, 4,400
seedlings averaging 39 inches in height (1 m) were established per acre
(10,900/ha) [24].
  • 24. Johnston, William F. 1973. Tamarack seedlings prosper on broadcast burns in Minnesota peatland. Res. Note NC-153. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. 3 p. [12802]
  • 37. Morneau, Claude; Payette, Serge. 1989. Postfire lichen--spruce woodland recovery at the limit of the boreal forest in northern Quebec. Canadian Journal of Botany. 67: 2770-2782. [9270]
  • 40. Parminter, John. 1983. Fire-ecological relationships for the biogeoclimatic zones and subzones of the Fort Nelson Timber Supply Area. In: Northern Fire Ecology Project: Fort Nelson Timber Supply Area. Victoria, BC: Province of British Columbia, Ministry of Forests. 122 p. [1821]
  • 41. Parminter, John. 1983. Fire-ecological relationships for the biogeoclimatic zones and subzones of the Fort Nelson Timber Supply Area: summary report. In: Northern Fire Ecology Project: Fort Nelson Timber Supply Area. Victoria, BC: Province of British Columbia, Ministry of Forests. 53 p. [9203]

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Immediate Effect of Fire

More info for the term: muskeg

Tamarack is easily killed by fire because it has thin bark and shallow
roots. On peatlands it is usually killed by all but very light surface
fires [26]. Tamarack seeds have no endosperm to protect them from high
temperatures; therefore, seeds on the ground are usually destroyed by
fire. Cones are not necessarily destroyed by summer fires, but immature
seeds will not ripen on fire-killed trees [52]. If summer fires kill
tamarack trees over extensive areas, no seed will be available to
revegetate the burned area.

Following a fire in a northern Wisconsin muskeg all tamaracks died
(trees were 1 to 5 inches [2.5-12.5 cm] d.b.h.) [50]. In interior
Alaska, all tamarack trees died following a low-intensity surface fire
that burned only 2 to 4 inches (5-10 cm) into the organic mat [20].
These trees were 49 to 79 years old and 1.5 to 3 inches (3-6 cm) in
diameter.
  • 20. Hanson, William A. 1979. Preliminary results of the Bear Creek fire effects studies. Proposed open file report. Anchorage, AK: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Anchorage District Office. 83 p. [6400]
  • 26. Johnston, William F. 1990. Larix laricina (Du Roi) K. Koch tamarack. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 1. Conifers. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 141-151. [13379]
  • 50. Vogl, Richard J. 1964. The effects of fire on a muskeg in northern Wisconsin. Journal of Wildlife Management. 28(2): 317-329. [12170]
  • 52. Zasada, J. 1986. Natural regeneration of trees and tall shrubs on forest sites in interior Alaska. In: Van Cleve, K.; Chapin, F. S., III; Flanagan, P. W.; [and others]

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Fire Ecology

Tamarack trees are easily killed by fire. The species relies on seed
from surviving trees to revegetate burned areas. Generally found in
boggy and swampy habitats, pockets of tamarack trees often escape
burning due to local topography or extremely wet conditions. These
trees provide seeds for postfire recovery. Because seed is dispersed
over short distances, tamarack is not well adapted to rapid reseeding of
large burns.

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Successional Status

More info on this topic.

More info for the terms: peat, shrub, swamp, tree

Tamarack is a pioneer or early seral species. It is often the first
tree to invade open bogs and burned peatlands [26]. In open bogs and
swamps, tamarack is the first tree to pioneer the sphagnum moss mat
floating over water [7]. This invasion toward the center or wettest
portion of a swamp is common [1,18]. It may invade bogs during sedge
mat, sphagnum moss, or ericaceous shrub stages. Tamarack is extremely
intolerant of shade, however, and eventually, as the peat becomes
consolidated and firm, other conifers replace it. It is replaced by
black spruce on poorly drained acid peatlands. In nutrient-rich swamps
it is replaced first by black spruce, and later by northern white-cedar,
balsam fir, and eventually swamp hardwoods [16].
  • 16. Fowells, H. A., compiler. 1965. Silvics of forest trees of the United States. Agric. Handb. 271. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 762 p. [12442]
  • 1. Beeftink, H. H. 1951. Some observations on tamarack or eastern larch. Forestry Chronicle. 27: 38-39. [14276]
  • 7. Curtis, John T. 1959. The vegetation of Wisconsin. Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Press. 657 p. [7116]
  • 18. Gates, Frank C. 1942. The bogs of northern lower Michigan. Ecological Monographs. 12(3): 213-254. [10728]
  • 26. Johnston, William F. 1990. Larix laricina (Du Roi) K. Koch tamarack. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 1. Conifers. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 141-151. [13379]

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Regeneration Processes

More info for the terms: layering, litter, tree, tussock

Cone and seed production: Cone production begins at about 15 years of
age for open-grown trees and 35 to 40 years of age for trees in
well-stocked stands [11]. Large quantities of seed are usually not
produced until trees are at least 40 years old. Fifty- to 150-year-old
open-grown trees produce the best cone crops, with individual trees
sometimes producing as many as 20,000 cones in a good year [11]. Good
seed crops are produced every 3 to 6 years, with some seed produced in
intervening years. Tamarack seeds are about 0.12 inch (3 mm) long and
have a wing about 0.25 inch (6 mm) long [26].

Dispersal: Seeds are dispersed in the fall over a relatively short time
period. In a Minnesota study, dispersal began about September 1, and by
October 31 about 98 percent of seed had fallen [11]. The remaining seed
fell throughout the winter. In interior Alaska, 95 percent of tamarack
seeds are shed by November [4]. Tamarack seeds are primarily wind
dispersed, but red squirrels disperse some seed. Most wind-dispersed
seeds fall within a distance of two tree heights, but a small percentage
travels greater distances [4,11].

Seed destruction and predation: In Minnesota, small mammals, presumably
mice, voles, and shrews, consume large quantities of tamarack seed off
the ground and can destroy up to one-half of a tamarack seed crop [11].
Also, seeds on the ground are susceptible to infections from bacteria
and fungi. Consequently, only about 4 or 5 percent of tamarack seed
that reaches the ground germinates [26]. In tamarack stands in New
Brunswick, insects destroyed between 25 and 88 percent of seed produced.
Larvae of the spruce budworm and the cone maggot were responsible for
greatest loss [53].

Viability: Tamarack seed remains viable for only about 1 year after
dispersal [11]. Typically a large percentage of tamarack seed is
unfilled. In Minnesota about one-third, and in northern Ontario about
one-half of seed had undeveloped embryo and endosperm [11,15]. At the
northern portion of the species range in the Northwest Territories,
tamarack produced a limited amount of seed, but none was viable [12].

Germination and establishment: Germinative capacity ranges from about
30 to 60 percent [11]. Neither light nor pH appear to influence
germination appreciably [11,15]. Tamarack seeds require a moist but
unsaturated substrate for germination. The best seedbed is warm, moist
mineral or organic soil free from competing vegetation [26].
Slow-growing sphagnum mosses also provide a good seedbed, as they have a
tendency to remain moist. In open swampy habitats, tamarack seedlings
are often found on sphagnum mosses [1,7]. Feather mosses are usually
poor seedbeds because they tend to dry out, but if they remain moist,
they can provide a favorable seedbed [4]. On poorly drained river
terraces in interior Alaska, tamarack seedlings are more abundant on
sphagnum and feather mosses than on sedge tussock tops, troughs between
the tussocks, or litter-covered sites; on well-drained river terraces,
seedlings are primarily restricted to mineral soil [4]. Tamarack
seedlings are intolerant of shade and flooding. Seedlings may survive a
few years in shade, but most will die unless released. Partial water
submersion for 1 to 3 weeks kills 1st-year seedlings [11]. In full
sunlight seedlings grow relatively rapidly, reaching heights of 7 to 9
inches (18-23 cm) after one growing season, and 18 to 25 inches (46-51
cm) tall after three [26]. Roots of seedlings growing in nearly full
sunlight may reach depths of 2.5 to 3.5 inches (5-11 cm) after one
growing season, while over the same time period roots of seedlings
growing in shade reach depths of only about 1 inch (2.5 cm) [11].

Vegetative reproduction: Layering is a dominant mode of reproduction at
the northern limit of the species' range. In the southern part of its
range, layering is uncommon but does occur when lower branches become
covered with litter or fast-growing mosses [26]. Curtis [7] reported
that tamarack has the unusual ability to produce root sprouts up to 30
feet (9 m) away from a mother tree.
  • 1. Beeftink, H. H. 1951. Some observations on tamarack or eastern larch. Forestry Chronicle. 27: 38-39. [14276]
  • 4. Brown, K. R.; Zobel, D. B.; Zasada, J. C. 1988. Seed dispersal, seedling emegence, and early survival of Larix laricina (DuRoi) K. Koch in the Tanana Valley, Alaska. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 18: 306-314. [7220]
  • 7. Curtis, John T. 1959. The vegetation of Wisconsin. Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Press. 657 p. [7116]
  • 11. Duncan, Donald P. 1954. A study of some of the factors affecting the natural regeneration of tamarack (Larix laricina) in Minnesota. Ecology. 35(4): 498-521. [14202]
  • 12. Elliott, Deborah L. 1979. The current regenerative capacity of the northern Canadian trees, Keewatin, N.W.T., Canada: some preliminary observations. Arctic and Alpine Research. 11(2): 243-251. [8419]
  • 15. Farmer, Robert E., Jr.; Reinholt, Ronald W. 1986. Seed quality and germination characteristics of tamarack in northwestern Ontario. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 16(3): 680-683. [14280]
  • 26. Johnston, William F. 1990. Larix laricina (Du Roi) K. Koch tamarack. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 1. Conifers. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 141-151. [13379]
  • 53. Amirault, P. A.; Brown, N. Rae. 1986. Cone and seed insects of tamarack, Larix laricina (Du Roi) K. Koch, and attempts to control damage using chemical insecticides. Canadian Entomologist. 118(6): 589-596. [14287]

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Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)

More info on this topic.

More info for the terms: phanerophyte, therophyte

Undisturbed State: Phanerophyte (mesophanerophyte)
Undisturbed State: Phanerophyte (microphanerophyte)
Burned or Clipped State: Therophyte

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Life Form

More info for the term: tree

Tree

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Post-fire Regeneration

off-site colonizer; seed carried by wind; postfire years 1 and 2

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Reaction to Competition

Tamarack is very intolerant of shade.  Although it can tolerate some shade during the first several years  (21,50), it must become dominant to survive, and when mixed with other  species, it must be in the overstory. On good swamp sites in Michigan, for  example, tamarack is a dominant tree in the overstory of some mixed  conifer stands, but it is practically never found in the understory (2).  The tree is a good self-pruner, and boles of 25- to 30-year-old trees may  be clear for one-half or two-thirds their length.

    Tamarack is a pioneer tree, especially on open unburned bogs and burned  organic soil (11). It is generally the first forest tree to invade  filled-lake bogs. In the Lake States tamarack may first appear in the  sedge mat, sphagnum. moss, or not until the bog shrub stage; farther north  it is the pioneer tree in the bog shrub stage (12). Tamarack is fairly  well adapted to reproduce successfully on burns (35), so it is one of the  usual pioneers on most sites in the boreal forest immediately after fire.  The tree commonly forms stands on abandoned farmland in eastern Ontario  (27) and reproduces well on sites in Alaska that were cleared and then  abandoned (50).

    Because tamarack is very intolerant, it does not become established in  its own shade. Consequently, the more tolerant black spruce eventually  succeeds tamarack on poor (bog) sites, whereas northern white-cedar,  balsam fir, and swamp hardwoods succeed tamarack on good (swamp) sites  (12). Recurring sawfly outbreaks throughout the range of tamarack have  probably speeded the usual succession to black spruce or other associates  (11).

    Various tests on planting and natural reproduction indicate that  competing vegetation hinders tamarack establishment. A year's delay in  planting furrows on a wet lowland resulted in significantly lower  first-year survival, apparently because of the rapid resurgence of grass  and other herbaceous vegetation (24). On brushy peatland, 7-year survival  and height were both much lower where tamarack was planted on unsprayed  rather than on herbicide-sprayed areas (33). Six years after broadcast  burning and natural seeding on peatland, tamaracks overtopped by  surrounding vegetation were only about half as tall as those generally not  overtopped (21). Tamarack does not grow well where sugar maple (Acer  saccharum) reproduction is present; this seems at least partly due to  the maple's root exudate (44).

    The intolerance of tamarack dictates the use of even-aged management,  with some adaptation of clearcutting or seed-tree cutting generally  considered the best silvicultural system, because tamarack seeds  apparently germinate better in the open and the seedlings require  practically full light to survive and grow well. Tamarack is also usually  windfirm enough for the seed-tree system to succeed. Satisfactory  reestablishment of tamarack, however, often requires some kind of site  preparation, such as slash disposal and herbicide spraying (22).

    For successful tamarack plantations, the planting stock's roots and  shoots must be well balanced and dormant; probably the best stock is begun  in a greenhouse and transplanted for 1 year. Competition must also be  controlled, the first 2 years after planting being critical. Because  tamarack is very intolerant, the trees should be planted at wide spacings  such as 2.4 by 2.4 m (8 by 8 ft) (27).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

William F. Johnston

Source: Silvics of North America

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Rooting Habit

Tamarack typically has a shallow, spreading root  system. On favorable sites roots may spread over an area greater in radius  than the tree height but are only 30 to 61 cm (12 to 24 in) deep. Trees on  sandy upland have a platelike rooting habit; few roots reach below a 30-cm  (12-in) depth and taproots are rare. On wet sites tamarack roots are  usually stringy with no branches on the terminal 15 cm (6 in). Peatland  tamaracks, in particular, have wide root systems and do not form taproots.  As the moss layer deepens, new roots develop on the stem above the  original root collar, and growth of old roots nearly ceases. On drier  sites roots of larger trees bend sharply from the trunks, forming knees  (12).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Phenology

More info on this topic.

Minnesota: Buds begin to swell from early to late April. Needles begin
to emerge from about mid-April to mid-May. Needles are shed from
mid-September to mid-October. Flowering occurs from late April to early
May. Seedfall begins in early September and is nearly complete by late
October [11,16,26].

Wisconsin: Tamarack begins to leaf out in the early spring before the
ground has thawed. It takes 4 to 6 weeks for the needles to develop
fully. The needles turn yellow in late September or early October and
are shed shortly thereafter [7].

Upper Peninsula of Michigan: Needles begin to emerge in mid-April to
mid-May. Needles begin to turn yellow in early September and are shed
from mid-September to mid-October. Flowering occurs in early May, and
cones are ripe by late August [16,26].

Alaska: Seed dispersal begins in early September and is mostly
completed by late October [4].

New York: Height growth begins in late May and ends by late August [5].
  • 16. Fowells, H. A., compiler. 1965. Silvics of forest trees of the United States. Agric. Handb. 271. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 762 p. [12442]
  • 4. Brown, K. R.; Zobel, D. B.; Zasada, J. C. 1988. Seed dispersal, seedling emegence, and early survival of Larix laricina (DuRoi) K. Koch in the Tanana Valley, Alaska. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 18: 306-314. [7220]
  • 5. Cook, David B. 1941. Five seasons' growth of conifers. Ecology. 22(3): 285-296. [10909]
  • 7. Curtis, John T. 1959. The vegetation of Wisconsin. Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Press. 657 p. [7116]
  • 11. Duncan, Donald P. 1954. A study of some of the factors affecting the natural regeneration of tamarack (Larix laricina) in Minnesota. Ecology. 35(4): 498-521. [14202]
  • 26. Johnston, William F. 1990. Larix laricina (Du Roi) K. Koch tamarack. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 1. Conifers. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 141-151. [13379]

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Reproduction

Vegetative Reproduction

Layering is apparently the dominant  reproductive mode for tamarack along the northern limit of trees in Canada  and Alaska (10,50), whereas farther south it is uncommon but may occur  when branches are covered by fast-growing sphagnum moss or drifting sand.  Roots are also known to produce shoots (12), and experience in Ontario  shows that tamarack can be easily propagated from softwood cuttings taken  in early July from young trees (probably less than 5 to 7 years old) (27).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Seedling Development

Up to half the tamarack seeds that fall  may be destroyed by rodents. As a result of this loss plus that by fungi  or bacteria, only 4 to 5 percent of the seed may germinate (12). In  nurseries, erratic and often poor germination has been a major difficulty  in producing tamarack stock (27); germination can even be poor in a  greenhouse (24). Recleaning the seed can substantially reduce the high  percentage of empty or improperly developed seed found in many seed lots  (18). Experience in Ontario shows that under optimum conditions, seed  collected from vigorous stands in a good seed year has 75 to 90 percent  germination (27).

    Tamarack seed remains viable for 4 years or more when stored in sealed  containers at 2 to 5 percent moisture content and -8° to -6° C  (18° to 22° F). Internal dormancy apparently ranges from none to  mild. Under forest conditions any existing dormancy is broken while the  seed lies on the ground during the first winter; thus fall sowing is  generally recommended. However, spring-sown seed may germinate well  without any cold stratification (18,36).

    Germination is epigeal, the cotyledons rising above the ground. It  normally begins from late May to mid-June and reaches a peak at surface  temperatures of 18° to 21° C (65° to 70° F). In  laboratory experiments germination has occurred at temperatures as low as  12° C (54° F) (4) and the rate may increase with temperature up  to about 24° C (75° F). Under deep shade germination occurred at  13° C (55° F). Alternating day and night temperatures of 30°  and 20° C (86° and 68° F), respectively, are recommended  for germination tests (36).

    The best seedbed is warm, moist mineral or organic soil with no brush  but a light cover of grass or other herbaceous vegetation. Hummocks of  slow-growing sphagnum moss often make a good seedbed, but some sphagnum  mosses may offer too much competition. In Minnesota germination beneath  tamarack stands was best on fine-textured mosses (primarily MniumDrepanocladus, and Helodium) (12). Findings from clearcut  peatlands in Minnesota show that slash-burned seedbeds favor tamarack  reproduction, whereas slash hinders it (22). On uplands, tamarack  apparently reproduces well on rock-raked areas after natural seeding.

    For best growth tamarack seedlings need abundant light and a constant  but suitable water level. In Canadian studies, full light produced the  tallest seedlings and heaviest root weights (26). Under drought  conditions, leader length and stem diameter were significantly reduced by  soil moisture tensions of 15.2 bar (15 atm), but tensions of 1.0 and 6.1  bar (1 and 6 atm) had little effect (14). Seedlings under fully stocked  stands usually grow 2 to 3 cm (1 in) the first year and do not survive  beyond the sixth year. With little or no cover they may be as tall as 18  to 23 cm (7 to 9 in) the first year and 46 to 64 cm (18 to 25 in) the  third year. From then on, growth is generally even more rapid if light is  adequate and drainage is good (12).

    Buds begin to swell 2 or 3 weeks before opening; in northeastern  Minnesota this occurs from early to late April. Needles begin to emerge  from about mid-April to mid-May in Minnesota, Michigan's Upper Peninsula,  and Saskatchewan. On the short shoots, needles elongate rapidly and the  annual stem increment- only about 1 mm (0.04 in)- is completed shortly  after budbreak. On the long shoots, basal needles reach full length by  mid- to late June in northern Wisconsin, whereas stem needles mature along  the stem as it grows; stem elongation is completed by the end of July (5).  Needles begin to turn yellow in early September in Michigan's Upper  Peninsula and reach maximum color in early October in Michigan and  northeastern Minnesota. Tamarack loses its needles in these same areas  from about mid-September to mid-October (1,12).

    Height growth apparently does not begin until the first needles are  fully developed. In Michigan's Upper Peninsula height growth begins in  late May and continues until mid-August (12). Diameter growth begins from  early April to early June and ceases from late July to early August in  northeastern Minnesota (I).

    Because they are small, tamarack seedlings are easily killed during the  first 6 or 8 weeks after germination. Early losses are primarily caused by  damping-off; in the second and third years drought, drowning, and  inadequate light sometimes cause appreciable loss. One-year-old seedlings  grown in full light can survive desiccation of the upper 2 to 3 cm (1 in)  of organic soils to as low as 45 to 65 percent by weight, whereas  forest-grown seedlings 1 to 3 years old are fairly intolerant of drought  (or flooding) (12).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Seed Production and Dissemination

Isolated trees on peatlands  and trees in upland plantations begin to bear viable seed at 12 to 15  years of age or even less. In eastern Ontario viable seed has been  collected from vigorous plantations as young as 4 years (27). Seed  production in large quantities generally begins at about 40 years, the  optimum age being about 75 years. Tamaracks on peatland in Saskatchewan  and Manitoba do not bear cones in quantity, however, until they are about  50 years old (12).

    Vigorous, open-grown trees 50 to 150 years old produce the best cone  crops; a single tree may bear as many as 20,000 cones containing more than  300,000 full seeds in a good year. Seed production in stands is generally  confined to dominant and codominant trees. Open-grown mature stands 80  years old may produce 3,700,000 to 6,200,000 full seeds per hectare  (1,500,000 to 2,500,000/acre) in a good year, while closed stands the same  age may produce 1,200,000 to 3,000,000 seeds per hectare (500,000 to  1,200,000/acre).

    Tamarack bears good seed crops at intervals of 3 to 6 years, with some  seed produced in intervening years. In Minnesota cones from mature trees  averaged 26 seeds, 67 percent of which were full; cones from young trees  averaged 39 seeds and 85 percent were full.

    General dates for tamarack seed dispersal in Ontario, the Lake States,  and interior Alaska are September to spring (36,50). A 1-year study in  northeastern Minnesota revealed that 65 percent of the crop fell from  September 1 to September 20, 25 percent from September 20 to October 10,  and nearly all of the remaining 10 percent before October 31. Empty cones  remain on the trees from 2 to 5 years (12).

    Tamarack seeds are 3 mm (0.12 in) long and have light chestnut-brown  wings 6 mm (0.25 in) long; cleaned seeds average about 550 000 to 710  000/kg (250,000 to 320,000/lb) (18,36). Although the seeds are small, few  fall at a distance greater than twice the tree height. However, tamarack  can reproduce well as far as 60 m (200 ft) from seed-bearing trees if  favorable seedbeds are present (22).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Flowering and Fruiting

Tamarack is monoecious; male and female  flowers are small, solitary, and appear with the needles. Male flowers are  yellow, globose, and are borne mainly on 1- or 2-year-old branchlets.  Female flowers are reddish, subglobose, and are borne most commonly on 2-  to 4-year-old branchlets, but also on branchlets 5 to 10 or more years  old, or on 1-year-old twigs of young trees. Cones usually are produced on  young growth of vigorous trees. On open-grown trees, cones are borne on  all parts of the crown. Ripe cones are brown, oblong-ovoid, and 13 to 19  mm (0.50 to 0.75 in) long.

    General dates for tamarack flowering in Ontario and the Lake States are  April to May (36), especially from late April to early May (1,12). In  interior Alaska tamarack generally flowers from mid- to late May (50).  General dates for cone ripening in Ontario and the Lake States are August  to September.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Growth

Growth and Yield

Average height of mature trees is 15 to 23 m  (50 to 75 ft), but occasional individuals may grow 30 to 35 m (100 to 115  ft) tall. Mature trees are usually 36 to 51 cm (14 to 20 in) in d.b.h.,  but a few reach 91 to 102 cm (36 to 40 in). Trees 18 to 24 m (60 to 80 ft)  tall and 51 to 61 cm (20 to 24 in) in d.b.h. were once common in the Lake  States. In interior Alaska mature tamaracks often are only 3 m (10 ft)  tall and 8 cm (3 in) in d.b.h. (12); on good sites, however, they  sometimes reach heights of 24 to 27 m (80 to 90 ft) and diameters of 30 to  38 cm (12 to 15 in) (50). Maximum age is generally 150 to 180 years, but  trees 230 to 240 years old and one 335-year-old individual have been  found.

    The growth rate of tamarack apparently depends on both the nutrient  status and moisture-aeration conditions of the site. In Minnesota,  tamarack site index is positively correlated to nutrient supply and foliar  nutrient concentrations (especially nitrogen and phosphorus) but  negatively correlated to amount of standing water (43). On water-covered  stagnant peatlands, the tree grows slowly and may be only 2 m (6 ft) tall  in 55 years. In northern Ontario it grows well on 91 cm. (36 in) or more  of peat if the zone of continuous saturation is at a depth of 46 cm (18  in) or more (12); drainage of tamarack-speckled alder swamps in the clay  belt would probably increase site index (at 100 years) by about 5 m (16  ft) (39).

    With abundant light, tamarack is one of the fastest growing conifers on  uplands in the boreal (including Alaska) and northern forest regions; on  peatlands it outgrows any other native conifer (6,12,50). In Alberta,  good-site tamarack averages almost 0.5 m (1.5 ft) in annual height growth  for 20 to 30 years, but growth apparently drops sharply when the crowns  close, or after the age of 40 to 50 years.

    Information on growth of natural tamarack stands is apparently available  only from northern Minnesota. Limited data indicate that annual growth of  poletimber stands (presumably on peatland sites) is from 1.9 to 2.5 m³/ha  (0.3 to 0.4 cord/acre). In 70- to 100-year-old stands, annual periodic  growth averaged 3.8 m³/ha (0.6 cord/acre) on well-stocked plots with  a basal area of 21 m²/ha (93 ft²/acre) and 1.9 m³/ha (0.3  cord/acre) on poorly stocked plots with 8 m²/ha (35 ft²/acre)  (12).

    No yield tables are known for tamarack. Characteristics of a few 80- to  130-year-old stands on medium- to poor-peatland sites in northern  Minnesota generally ranged as follows: average height, 12.2 to 15.5 m (40  to 51 ft); average d.b.h., 13.0 to 14.7 cm (5.1 to 5.8 in); number of  trees, 1,370 to 1,740/ha (555 to 705/acre); and basal area, 19 to 23 m²/ha  (83 to 102 ft²/acre) (41).

    No doubt because of its potential for rapid juvenile growth, tamarack  has been used in several planting tests on different sites in the Lake  States (25,32,33) and eastern Canada (15,28). Trees grew slowly on  peatland, but on other sites height averaged from 3.2 to 4.4 m (10.5 to  14.4 ft) in 8- to 10-year-old plantations where competing vegetation was  initially controlled. Survival was more variable, being very poor on  shallow soils over limestone.

    Growth rate (particularly diameter) declines after 12 to 15 years if  tamarack is planted at close spacings such as 1.5 by 1.5 m (5 by 5 ft),  but it should be unimpeded for the first 25 years at wider spacings up to  2.4 by 2.4 m (8 by 8 ft). In a good plantation in eastern Ontario, height  at 25 years averaged 14.9 m (49 ft), d.b.h. 17.3 cm (6.8 in), and volume  202 m³/ha (32 cords/acre). Depending on site, final harvests of 189  to 252 m³/ha (30 to 40 cords/acre) are possible at 25 years in  well-managed tamarack plantations (27). Intensively cultured plantations  can produce two to three times more biomass than conventionally tended  stands (51).

    In stands tamarack is characteristically a straight, slender tree with a  narrow, pyramidal crown that occupies one-third to one-half the bole  length. Trees whose tops have died back after heavy defoliation by the  larch sawfly (Pristiphora erichsonii) or after prolonged flooding  typically produce numerous adventitious shoots. Although these shoots no  doubt help tamarack survive defoliation or flooding, they also apparently  support high sawfly populations (12).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Genetics

Population Differences and Races    Tamarack shows much genetic variation. Growth responses to photoperiod  were found to differ between northern seed sources and a southern source  (45). Differences in germination patterns due to photoperiod and length of  cold stratification have been shown between seed from interior Alaska and  seed from southern sources (4).

    Growth responses would seem to indicate that photoperiodic ecotypes  exist in tamarack (45). The species is considered to have a clinal pattern  of variation, however, and no races or ecotypes are presently recognized.  For example, tamarack's gene pool in Wisconsin is highly variable but  unsegmented, with a clinal pattern of variation evident among the State's  major geographic subdivisions (31).

    Tamarack seed sources differed significantly in survival, height, and  d.b.h. 10 years after planting in north-central Wisconsin. The following  sources grew best on a high-yield site and are recommended for  north-central Wisconsin (32): Somerset County, ME; Eau Claire, La Crosse,  and Oneida Counties, WI; and Annapolis County, NS.

    Tamarack in Alaska was once named as a separate species (Larix  alaskensis) and later reduced to a variety (L. laricina var.  alaskensis), but the Alaska variety is no longer accepted (46).

    Hybrids    Little information is available on intraspecific hybridization in  tamarack, but careful selection and breeding may result in substantial  genetic improvement. Similarly, although tamarack has been little used in  interspecific hybridization, it has been crossed with two other species of  the Section Pauciseriales--Japanese larch (Larix leptolepis) and  European larch (L. decidua). Progenies with hybrid vigor are often  produced, but seed yield is very low (13). The tamarack-Japanese larch  hybrid is especially promising because it combines rapid growth with  adaptability to shorter growing seasons (20). Although crosses between  tamarack and the remaining species of the Section-Dahurian larch (L.  gmelini) and Siberian larch (L. sibirica)- seem feasible (30),  apparently none has yet been produced.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Larix laricina

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Larix laricina

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 9
Specimens with Barcodes: 15
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2013

Assessor/s
Farjon, A.

Reviewer/s
Thomas, P. & Stritch, L.

Contributor/s

Justification
Larix laricina is assessed as Least Concern as it is distributed across the northern part of the North American continent in a dynamic and constantly renewing ecosystem, of which this larch is a constituent species
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Status

Please consult the PLANTS Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status, such as, state noxious status and wetland indicator values.

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Population

Population
Widespread and abundant.

Population Trend
Stable
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Threats

Major Threats
No specific threats have been identified for this species.
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Pests and potential problems

Defoliation by the larch sawfly and the larch casebearer often cause extensive mortality, but imported parasites of these insects apparently are becoming established and may help to control outbreaks.

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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Tamarack occurs in many protected areas throughout its range.
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Management considerations

Silviculture: Tamarack seeds germinate and establish best in the open.
Seedlings require nearly full sunlight to survive and grow well.
Consequently, even-age silviculture is best for perpetuating larch on a
site [2,27].

Insects and diseases: Larch sawfly is the most destructive pest of
tamarck. Epidemics occur periodically in tamarack stands across the
northern United States and Canada. This insect is capable of
defoliating stands over large areas and killing many trees. Trees die
after 6 to 9 years of heavy defoliation [26]. Outbreaks of the larch
casebearer have also caused extensive mortality in some areas. The
spruce budworm, larch bud moth, spruce spider mite, larch shoot moth,
and several bark beetles also infest tamarack but seldom cause serious
injury [26]. Tamarack is generally resistant to rusts and other
diseases [26].

Flooding: Tamarack is susceptible to damage from flooding and
disruptions in groundwater movements. Trees have been killed over large
areas where newly constructed roads impede water movements and where
beavers dam drainage ditches or small streams [26].
  • 2. Benzie, John W.; Blum, Barton M. 1989. Silviculture of northeastern conifers. In: Burns, Russell M., compiler. The scientific basis for silvicultural and management decisions in the National Forest System. Gen. Tech. Rep. WO-55. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 18-30. [10243]
  • 26. Johnston, William F. 1990. Larix laricina (Du Roi) K. Koch tamarack. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 1. Conifers. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 141-151. [13379]
  • 27. Johnston, William F.; Brittain, Robert E. 1983. Tamarack. In: Burns, Russell M., technical compiler. Silvicultural systems for the major forest types of the United States. Agric. Handb. No. 445. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 99-101. [25102]

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Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)

These plant materials are readily available from commercial sources. Contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service (formerly Soil Conservation Service) office for more information. Look in the phone book under ”United States Government.” The Natural Resources Conservation Service will be listed under the subheading “Department of Agriculture.”

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Tamarack is a shade-intolerant pioneer. It is generally the first forest tree to invade filled-lake bogs and burned sites in boreal forest, but it is overtaken in succession by black spruce and various other species. As a consequence, commercial production of tamarack requires site preparation, such as slash disposal and herbicide spraying, and some form of even-age management. Trees should be planted at wide spacings.

Tamarack is highly susceptible to fire damage because of the thin bark, even light burns on peatlands are destructive because of the shallow root system. Flooding from wetland road crossings and beaver dams can kill tamarack stands.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Uses

Uses: Beverage (non-alcoholic), Folk medicine

Comments: Menomini used bark of trunk and root for poultices. Tea used for inflammations. Ojibway made tea from the roots. Whites used extract of inner bark for chronic bronchitis and inflammation of urinary passages.

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Value for rehabilitation of disturbed sites

Tamarack may be useful for revegetating disturbed peatlands. In
southeastern Canada, Maine, and Minnesota, tamarack naturally invades
well-drained, raised surfaces in abandoned mined peatlands [14].
Tamarack should not be planted with fast-growing trees because of its
low tolerance for shade.

On amended sand tailings in northern Alberta, tamarack survival varied
from 0 to 60 percent [51]. When planted on coal mine spoils it
performed quite well. It grew faster than black spruce and added needed
organic matter to the spoil [51].

Tamarack can be established on disturbed sites by direct seeding or by
transplanting seedlings. Tamarack seed does not exhibit dormancy and
can be planted in the spring or fall. Seed should be sown at a depth of
about 0.25 inch (0.6 cm). Seed remains viable for 4 years when kept in
sealed containers at 18 to 22 degrees F (-8 to -6 C) and a seed moisture
content of 2 to 5 percent [45]. Tamarack is easily propagated from
cuttings taken from young trees [26,54].
  • 14. Famous, Norman C.; Spencer, M. 1989. Revegetation patterns in mined peatlands in central and eastern North America studied. Restoration and Management Notes. 7(2): 95-96. [10171]
  • 26. Johnston, William F. 1990. Larix laricina (Du Roi) K. Koch tamarack. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 1. Conifers. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 141-151. [13379]
  • 45. Rudolf, Paul O. 1974. Larix Mill. larch. In: Schopmeyer, C. S., ed. Seeds of woody plants in the United States. Agric. Handb. 450. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 478-485. [7689]
  • 51. Watson, L. E.; Parker, R. W.; Polster, D. F. 1980. Manual of plant species suitablity for reclamation in Alberta. Vol. 2. Forbs, shrubs and trees. Edmonton, AB: Land Conservation and Reclamation Council. 537 p. [8855]
  • 54. Farmer, Robert E., Jr.; Foster, Heather A.;Bakowsky, Olenka; [and others]

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Cover Value

More info for the term: cover

Tamarack is probably of limited value as cover for mammals and birds
because it sheds its needles in the winter and often occurs in rather
open stands. In northern Minnesota, ospreys prefer to nest in dead
tamarack trees. Bald eagles occasionally nest in tamarack [35].
  • 35. Mathisen, John E. 1968. Identification of bald eagle and osprey nests in Minnesota. Loon. 40(4): 113-114. [13996]

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Other uses and values

In Alaska, young tamarack stems are used for dogsled runners, boat ribs,
and fishtraps. In northern Alberta, duck and goose decoys are made from
tamarack branches. Indians used the roots for cordage, the wood for
arrow shafts, and the bark for medicine. Early Americans used the soft
needles for stuffing pillows and mattresses and used the roots of large
trees for ship building [26,28].
  • 26. Johnston, William F. 1990. Larix laricina (Du Roi) K. Koch tamarack. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 1. Conifers. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 141-151. [13379]
  • 28. Johnston, William F.; Carpenter, Eugene M. 1985. Tamarack: An American wood. FS-268. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 7 p. [9119]

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Wood Products Value

Tamarack is not a major commercial timber species. In the United
States, it is primarily used for pulpwood. Because the wood is heavy,
durable, and decay-resistant, it is also used for posts, poles, mine
timbers, and railroad ties. It is used less commonly for rough lumber,
fuelwood, boxes, crates, and pails [28].
  • 28. Johnston, William F.; Carpenter, Eugene M. 1985. Tamarack: An American wood. FS-268. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 7 p. [9119]

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Importance to Livestock and Wildlife

Browse: Tamarack is an important dietary component of very few wildlife
species. It is browsed by some animals but generally to a limited
extent. Snowshoe hares feed on twigs and bark, and porcupines feed on
the inner bark [16]. Moose and white-tailed deer generally avoid
tamarack [6,16]. Spruce, blue, and sharp-tailed grouse readily consume
the needles and buds [34,51]. A study in north-central Canada found
that caribou consume small amounts of tamarack; needles were frequently
found in caribou rumens, but always in small amounts [36].

Seed: Red squirrels cut and cache tamarack cones. The pine siskin,
crossbills, and probably other seed eating birds eat tamarack seeds
[19]. Mice, voles, and shrews consume large numbers of tamarack seeds
off the ground [11].
  • 16. Fowells, H. A., compiler. 1965. Silvics of forest trees of the United States. Agric. Handb. 271. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 762 p. [12442]
  • 6. Cumming, H. G. 1987. Sixteen years of moose browse surveys in Ontario. Alces. 23: 125-156. [8859]
  • 11. Duncan, Donald P. 1954. A study of some of the factors affecting the natural regeneration of tamarack (Larix laricina) in Minnesota. Ecology. 35(4): 498-521. [14202]
  • 19. Halvorson, Curtis H. 1986. Influence of vertebrates on conifer seed production. In: Shearer, Raymond C., compiler. Proceedings--conifer tree seed in the Inland Mountain West symposium; 1985 August 5-6; Missoula, MT. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-203. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station: 201-222. [13115]
  • 34. Martin, Alexander C.; Zim, Herbert S.; Nelson, Arnold L. 1951. American wildlife and plants. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. 500 p. [4021]
  • 36. Miller, Donald R. 1976. Taiga winter range relationships and diet. Canadian Wildlife Service Rep. Series No. 36. Ottawa, ON: Environment Canada, Wildlife Service. 42 p. (Biology of the Kaminuriak population of barren-ground caribou; pt 3). [13007]
  • 51. Watson, L. E.; Parker, R. W.; Polster, D. F. 1980. Manual of plant species suitablity for reclamation in Alberta. Vol. 2. Forbs, shrubs and trees. Edmonton, AB: Land Conservation and Reclamation Council. 537 p. [8855]

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Palatability

The palatability of tamarack for white-tailed deer and moose is low.
Tamarack is more palatable to snowshoe hare than white spruce (Picea
glauca) is [4].
  • 4. Brown, K. R.; Zobel, D. B.; Zasada, J. C. 1988. Seed dispersal, seedling emegence, and early survival of Larix laricina (DuRoi) K. Koch in the Tanana Valley, Alaska. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 18: 306-314. [7220]

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Special Uses

The principal commercial use of tamarack in the United States is for  making pulp products, especially the transparent paper in window  envelopes. Because of its rot resistance, tamarack is also used for posts,  poles, mine timbers, and railroad ties. Other wood products include rough  lumber, fuelwood, boxes, crates, and pails (23). In interior Alaska young  tamarack stems are used for dogsled runners, boat ribs, and fishtraps (4);  in northern Alberta the branches are used to make duck and goose decoys  (50). Historically, knees from larger trees were used in wooden ship  construction and Indians used the fine roots to sew birch bark, the wood  for arrow shafts, and the bark for medicine (48).

    Tamarack has certain wildlife values. Porcupines feed on the inner bark,  snowshoe hares browse on seedlings, and red squirrels eat the seeds. Birds  common in tamarack stands during the summer include the white-throated  sparrow, song sparrow, veery, common yellowthroat, and Nashville warbler  (7). The American osprey, a sensitive species, often nests in lowland  types such as tamarack; and the great gray owl, a rare winter visitor in  the northern Lake States, apparently nests there only in the tamarack  peatlands of northern Minnesota.

    Tamarack is esthetically appealing, especially in early autumn when its  needles turn yellow. Although the tree has been infrequently planted for  ornamental purposes (30), it has significant potential-even in Alaska  (50)- because of its rapid growth and fall color. Tamarack is particularly  valuable in suburban areas but is not suitable as a shade tree on city  streets (18).

    Tamarack has limited value as a watershed protector because it usually  grows on gently sloping terrain, and management of the type probably has  little or no effect on water yield or quality because harvesting is  generally on a small scale.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

William F. Johnston

Source: Silvics of North America

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Uses

The commercial value of tamarack wood is limited because of insect and disease problems and its relatively poor pulping properties. The wood is used principally for pulp products, especially the transparent paper in window envelopes, but slow-growing trees develop wood with high resin content, making it decay resistant and useful for posts, poles, railroad ties. It also has been used for rough lumber, fuelwood, and boat construction. The back contains a tannin that has been used for tanning leather. Various wildlife eat the seeds, seedlings, and bark and birds use the trees for nesting.

Public Domain

USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center & the Biota of North America Program

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Wikipedia

Larix laricina

"Tamarack" redirects here. For other uses, see Tamarack (disambiguation).
"Hackmatack" redirects here. For the balsam poplar species, see Populus balsamifera.

Larix laricina, commonly known as the tamarack,[2] hackmatack[2] eastern larch,[2] black larch,[2] red larch,[2] or American larch,[2] is a species of larch native to Canada, from eastern Yukon and Inuvik, Northwest Territories east to Newfoundland, and also south into the northeastern United States from Minnesota to Cranesville Swamp, Maryland; there is also a disjunct population in central Alaska. The word tamarack is the Algonquian name for the species and means "wood used for snowshoes".

Description[edit]

It is a small to medium-size boreal coniferous and deciduous tree reaching 10–20 metres (33–66 ft) tall, with a trunk up to 60 centimetres (24 in) diameter.The tamarack is not an evergreen. The bark is tight and flaky, pink, but under flaking bark it can appear reddish. The leaves are needle-like, 2–3 cm (0.8–1.2 in) short, light blue-green, turning bright yellow before they fall in the autumn, leaving the pale pinkish-brown shoots bare until the next spring. The needles are produced spirally on long shoots and in dense clusters on long woody spur shoots. The cones are the smallest of any larch, only 1–2.3 cm (0.4–0.9 in) long, with 12-25 seed scales; they are bright red, turning brown and opening to release the seeds when mature, 4 to 6 months after pollination.

Key characteristics:[3]

  • The needles are normally borne on a short shoot in groups of 10–20 needles.
  • The larch is deciduous and the needles turn yellow in autumn.
  • The seed cones are small, less than 2 cm (0.8 in) long, with lustrous brown scales.
  • Larch are commonly found in swamps, bogs, and other low-land areas.

Distribution and ecology[edit]

Tamarack larch foliage and cones in August. The lighter brown cones are from the current season; the darker brown cones are mature cones from previous seasons.

It is very cold tolerant, able to survive temperatures down to at least −65 °C (−85 °F), and commonly occurs at the arctic tree line at the edge of the tundra. Trees in these severe climatic conditions are smaller than farther south, often only 5 m (16 ft) tall. Tamarack can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions but grows most commonly in swamps in wet to moist organic soils such as sphagnum peat and woody peat. The tree is found on mineral soils that range from heavy clay to coarse sand; thus texture does not seem to be limiting. Although tamarack can grow well on calcareous soils, it is not abundant on the limestone areas of eastern Ontario.

Tamarack is commonly an early invader.[4] Tamarack is generally the first forest tree to invade filled-lake bogs. In the lake states, tamarack may appear first in the sedge mat, sphagnum moss, or not until the bog shrub stage. Farther north, it is the pioneer tree in the bog shrub stage. Tamarack is fairly well adapted to reproduce successfully on burns, so it is one of the common pioneers on sites in the boreal forest immediately after a fire.

The central Alaskan population, separated from the eastern Yukon populations by a gap of about 700 kilometres (430 mi), is treated as a distinct variety Larix laricina var. alaskensis by some botanists, though others argue that it is not sufficiently distinct to be distinguished.

Associated forest cover[edit]

Young tree with fall colors

Tamarack forms extensive pure stands in the boreal region of Canada and in northern Minnesota. In the rest of its United States range and in the Maritime Provinces, tamarack is found locally in both pure and mixed stands. It is a major component in the SAF forest cover types Tamarack and black spruce–tamarack.

Black spruce (Picea mariana) is usually tamarack's main associate in mixed stands on all sites. The other most common associates include balsam fir (Abies balsamea), white spruce (Picea glauca), and quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) in the boreal region. In the better organic soil sites in the northern forest region, the most common associates are the northern white-cedar (Thuja occidentalis), balsam fir, black ash (Fraxinus nigra), and red maple (Acer rubrum). In Alaska, quaking aspen and tamarack are almost never found together. Additional common associates are American elm (Ulmus americana), balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera), jack pine (Pinus banksiana), paper birch (Betula papyrifera), Kenai birch (B. papyrifera var. kenaica), and yellow birch (B. alleghaniensis).

Tamarack stands cast light shade and so usually have a dense undergrowth of shrubs and herbs. Because the tree has an extensive range, a great variety of shrubs is associated with it. Dominant tall shrubs include dwarf (resin) and low (swamp) birch (Betula glandulosa and Betula pumila), willows (Salix spp.), speckled alder (Alnus rugosa), and red-osier dogwood (Cornus stolonifera). Low shrubs include Labrador-tea (Ledum groenlandicum), bog-rosemary (Andromeda glaucophylla), leather leaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata), and small cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccos). Characteristically the herbaceous cover includes sedges (Carex spp.), cottongrass (Eriophorum spp.), false Solomonseal (Smilacina trifolia), marsh cinquefoil (Potentilla palustris), marsh-marigold (Caltha palustris), and bogbean (Menyanthes trifoliata). Ground cover is usually composed of sphagnum moss (Sphagnum spp.) and other mosses.

Flowering and fruiting[edit]

Tamarack is monoecious. Male and female flowers are small, either solitary or in groups of 2 or 3, and appear with the needles. Male flowers are yellow and are borne mainly on 1- or 2-year-old branchlets. Female flowers resemble tiny roses. They are reddish/maroon in color, have needles at their base which are shorter and bluer than the other needles on the tree. They are borne most commonly on 2 to 4-year-old branchlets, but may also appear on branchlets 5 or more years old. Cones usually are produced on young growth of vigorous trees. On open-grown trees, cones are borne on all parts of the crown. Ripe cones are brown, oblong-ovoid, and 13 to 19 mm (½ to ¾ in) long.

Uses[edit]

Larix laricina bonsai

The wood is tough and durable, but also flexible in thin strips, and was used by the Algonquian people for making snowshoes and other products where toughness was required. The natural crooks located in the stumps and roots are also preferred for creating knees in wooden boats. Currently, the wood is used principally for pulpwood, but also for posts, poles, rough lumber, and fuelwood; it has little commercial significance.[5]

It is also grown as an ornamental tree in gardens in cold regions. Several dwarf cultivars have been created that are available commercially.[6][7] Tamarack is commonly used for bonsai.[8]

Tamarack poles were used in corduroy roads because of their resistance to rot. Tamarack trees were used before 1917 in Alberta to mark the northeast corner of sections surveyed within townships. They were used by the surveyors because at that time the very rot-resistant wood was readily available in the bush and was light to carry.[citation needed]

The aboriginal peoples of Canada's northwest regions used the inner bark as a poultice to treat cuts, infected wounds, frostbite, boils and hemorrhoids. The outer bark and roots are also said to have been used with another plant as a treatment for arthritis, cold and general aches and pains.[9]

Wildlife use the tree for food and nesting.[citation needed]

Reaction to competition[edit]

Tamarack is very intolerant of shade. Although it can tolerate some shade during the first several years, it must become dominant to survive. When mixed with other species, it must be in the over story. The tree is a good self-pruner, and boles of 25- to 30-year-old trees may be clear for one-half or two-thirds their length.

Because tamarack is very shade-intolerant, it does not become established in its own shade. Consequently, the more tolerant black spruce eventually succeeds tamarack on poor bog sites, whereas northern white-cedar, balsam fir, and swamp hardwoods succeed tamarack on good swamp sites. Recurring sawfly outbreaks throughout the range of tamarack have probably speeded the usual succession to black spruce or other associates.

Various tests on planting and natural reproduction indicate that competing vegetation hinders tamarack establishment.

The shade-intolerance of tamarack dictates the use of even-aged management. Some adaptation of clear cutting or seed-tree cutting is generally considered the best silvicultural system because tamarack seeds apparently germinate better in the open, and the seedlings require practically full light to survive and grow well. Tamarack is also usually wind-firm enough for the seed-tree system to succeed. Satisfactory reestablishment of tamarack, however, often requires some kind of site preparation, such as slash disposal and herbicide spraying.

Damaging agents[edit]

The tamarack has thin bark and is therefore highly susceptible to fire damage, except perhaps in older, upland stands. However, the habitat of tamarack, especially south of the boreal forest, is normally wet enough to protect the tree from fire. The tamarack is also susceptible to high winds. Strong winds can uproot large tamarack trees growing in swamps or other wet-land sites where rooting is shallow. It has also been discovered that abnormally high water levels often kill tamarack stands. Those that survive under such conditions usually grow very slowly. Other effects of high water include dieback and the development of adventitious roots and shoots. Wetland road crossings and beaver damming are the primary causes of flooding.

Many insect species are known to be destructive to tamaracks. The larch sawfly is the most destructive. Epidemics occur periodically across Canada and the northern United States and have caused tremendous losses of merchantable tamarack throughout most of the tree's range. Indications are that radial increment declines markedly after 4 to 6 years of outbreak. After 6 to 9 years of moderate to heavy defoliation, the trees die. In southeastern Manitoba and northern Minnesota, however, imported parasites of the sawfly have become established and should reduce the frequency and duration of future outbreaks. Another serious defoliator is the larch casebearer Coleophora laricella. The larch casebearer attacks tamarack of all ages, and several severe outbreaks have caused extensive mortality in some areas. Outbreak severity has lessened in recent years, however, probably due to imported parasites of the casebearer that have become widely established.

Only a few other insects and related organisms (such as mites) that feed on tamarack are known to sometimes cause serious injury. During an outbreak, the spruce budworm (Choristoneura fumiferana) can severely damage tamarack. The larch-bud moth (Zeiraphera improbana) has had occasional short epidemics, and the spruce spider mite (Oligonychus ununguis) is occasionally found in large numbers on tamarack. The larch-shoot moth (Argyresthia laricella) is widely distributed, but serious injury is unusual. One of the most common bark beetles attacking tamarack is the eastern larch beetle (Dendroctonus simplex), but it feeds mainly on weakened, dying, or dead trees.

Tamarack is a host to many pathogens, but only one cause diseases serious enough to have an economic impact on its culture, the Lachnellula willkommii fungus. It is a relatively new pathogen in Canada, first recorded in 1980 and originating in Europe. The fungus cause large cankers to form and a disease known as Larch Canker which is particularly harmful to the tamarack larch, killing both young and mature trees.[10] Apart from this, the only common foliage diseases are rusts, such as the leaf rust in eastern and central North America. However, this rust, caused by the fungus Melampsora medusae, and other rusts do little damage to tamarack. The needle-cast fungus Hypodermella laricis has attacked tamarack in Ontario and has the potential for local damage.

In popular culture[edit]

Guitar luthier Mark Blanchard has named one of his models the tamarack.

Tamarack is the Territorial tree of Northwest Territories.

It is mentioned in the Ernest Hemingway short story "The Battler", from In Our Time.

In the United States, the Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Wisconsin and northeastern Illinois is named from the Algonquin word for the species.[11]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Conifer Specialist Group (1998). Larix laricina. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 12 May 2006.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Earle, Christopher J. "Larix laricina". Gymnosperm Database. Retrieved 2011-05-28. 
  3. ^ Barnes, Burton V.; Wagner Jr., Warren H. (September 15, 1981). Michigan Trees. University of Michigan Press. ISBN 978-0-472-08018-2. 
  4. ^ Hogan, C. Michael (November 24, 2008). "Black Spruce". GlobalTwitcher.com. Retrieved 2011-05-28. 
  5. ^ Uchytil, Ronald J. (1991). "Larix laricina". Fire Effects Information System. US Forest Service. 
  6. ^ "Larix laricina". University of Connecticut. "Dwarf forms include: 'Blue Sparkler', with bluish foliage; 'Deborah Waxman', which reaches 4' in time; 'Lanark', which grows very low and wide; and 'Newport Beauty', a tiny form probably never exceeding 2' tall and wide." 
  7. ^ "Larix Laricina: Cultivar List". Encyclopedia of Conifers. Royal Horticultural Society. 
  8. ^ Joyce, David (2006). The Art of Natural Bonsai: Replicating Nature's Beauty. Sterling Publishing Company. p. 154. ISBN 9781402735240. "As bonsai, they are my favorite genus because of their speed of growth, hardiness, ease of wiring and shaping, and, most of all, for their beautiful foliage color in spring and autumn." 
  9. ^ Marles, Robin James (2009). Aboriginal Plant Use in Canada's Northwest Boreal Forest. Canadian Forest Service. ISBN 9780660198699. 
  10. ^ European larch canker Natural Resources Canada
  11. ^ "Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge". US Fish and Wildlife Service. Retrieved 2012-11-15. 
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Notes

Comments

Disjunct Alaskan populations of Larix laricina , originally described as Larix alaskensis on the basis of narrower cone scales and bracts, are indistinguishable from other populations of the species. 

 The wood of tamarack is used for railway ties, pilings, and posts; it formerly was used for boat construction. Slow-growing trees develop wood with high resin content, making it decay resistant but limiting its value for pulpwood. The bark contains a tannin, which has been used for tanning leather. Although tamarack is the most rapidly growing boreal conifer under favorable conditions, it is of little commercial interest because of insect and disease problems and its poor pulping properties. Plants of this species are often stunted in the far north and on mountain slopes.

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© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

The currently accepted scientific name of tamarack is Larix laricina (Du
Roi) K. Koch [32]. The genus Larix consists of 10 species of deciduous,
coniferous trees found in cool, temperate regions of the northern
hemisphere. Three species of Larix, including tamarack, are native to
North America.

Tamarack is a widely distributed species that exhibits considerable
genetic variation. At one time, plants from Alaska were considered as
either a distinct species or as a variety of tamarack. Recent research
shows that although Alaskan plants exhibit some variation in cone and
needle characteristics, the variation is insufficient to warrant
recognition as a separate species or variety [39]. Across tamarack's
range the pattern of variation is gradual, and no varieties or ecotypes
are currently recognized [26].

Natural hybridization between tamarack and other larches has not been
documented. Tamarack has been artifically crossed with Japanese larch
(L. leptolepis) and European larch (L. decidua) [26].
  • 32. Little, Elbert L., Jr. 1979. Checklist of United States trees (native and naturalized). Agric. Handb. 541. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 375 p. [2952]
  • 26. Johnston, William F. 1990. Larix laricina (Du Roi) K. Koch tamarack. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 1. Conifers. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 141-151. [13379]
  • 39. Parker, William H.; Dickinson, Timothy A. 1990. Range-wide morphological and anatomical variation in Larix laricina. Canadian Journal of Botany. 68: 832-840. [11234]

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Common Names

tamarack
Eastern larch
Alaskan larch
American larch
tamarack larch
hackmatack

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Synonyms

Larix laricina var. alaskensis (W.F. Wright) Raup

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