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Stephen F. Arno
Alpine larch (Larix lyallii), also called subalpine larch and Lyall larch, is a deciduous conifer. Its common name recognizes that this species often grows higher up on cool exposures than any other trees, thereby occupying what would otherwise be an alpine tundra. Both early-day botanical explorers and modern visitors to the high mountains have noted this tree's remarkable ability to form pure groves above the limits of evergreen conifers. Alpine larch inhabits remote high-mountain terrain and its wood has essentially no commercial value; however this tree is ecologically interesting and esthetically attractive. Growing in a very cold, snowy, and often windy environment, alpine larch usually remains small and stunted, but in windsheltered basins it sometimes attains large size-maximum 201 cm (79 in) in d.b.h. and 29 m (95 ft) in height. This species is distinguished from its lower elevation relative western larch (Larix occidentalis) by the woolly hairs that cover its buds and recent twigs, and frequently by its broad, irregular crown.