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Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

This coniferous tree is 30-120' tall, forming an unbranched central trunk with numerous lateral branches. Young trees typically have conical crowns, while older trees are more oblongoid and irregular. Trunk bark of mature trees is brownish or reddish gray and flaky, forming irregular fissures; branch bark is more smooth and gray. First-year twigs (typically 4-20" long) are pale yellow with alternate leaves, while second-year twigs are gray to grayish brown with clusters of 30-60 leaves. Both types of leaves are about ¾-1¼" long, needle-like in shape, and deciduous. During the spring, the leaves are light green, but they later become more dark during the summer. During the fall, they turn yellow before falling to the ground. On second-year twigs, the leaf clusters are produced on short spur-twigs less than 1/8 long. In each cluster, the leaves are joined together at the base, from which they spread outward in all directions. European Larch is monoecious, forming both pollen cones and seed cones on the same tree. These cones are located toward the tips of second-year twigs during the spring. At this time of year, the small pollen cones are globoid-ovoid in shape and yellow, while the larger seed cones are ovoid in shape and dark red to reddish purple. Pollen cones consist of male (staminate) flowers and their scales, while seed cones consist of female (pistillate) flowers and their scales. The cones are cross-pollinated by the wind. Afterwards, the pollen cones wither away, while the seed cones continue to develop until they become mature during the fall. Mature seed cones are ¾-1½" long and ovoid-oblong in shape; they are initially green from overlapping pubescent scales, but they later become dark brown and hairless. The seed cones are held more or less erect and can persist on a tree for more than one year, even after the seeds have been dispersed. Behind each scale of the seed cone, there is a broad membranous bract; this bract is shorter than the scale. In addition to the bract, there is a pair of seeds at the base of each scale. These seeds have elongated wings and they are dispersed by the wind. The root system is woody and relatively deep.
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Distribution

Range and Habitat in Illinois

European Larch has naturalized in NE Illinois, but it is relatively uncommon (see Distribution Map). Habitats consist of woodland borders, moist meadows, edges of yards, roadsides, and abandoned homesteads. This tree was introduced into North America from Europe, where it is typically found in mountainous areas. In Illinois, it is used primarily as a landscape tree.
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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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The native range of European larch is separated into four distinct,
closed regions plus several outliers centered in the Alps. It extends
from Switzerland south to Italy [3,14,15]. European larch been widely
planted throughout Europe and Great Britain, and has also been planted
in southern Canada and the northeastern United States. It has become
naturalized in Maine, Michigan, New York, Connecticut, New Hampshire,
Vermont, and Rhode Island [12,22,24].
  • 12. 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]
  • 3. Elwes, H. J.; Henry, A. 1907. The trees of Great Britain and Ireland. Edinburgh: privately printed. [Pages unknown]
  • 14. Miller, J. T.; Knowles, F. B. 1988. Introduced forest trees in New Zealand: recognition, role, and seed source. 3. The larches. Larix decidua Miller - European larch, Larix kaempferi (Lambert) Carr. - Japanese larch, Larix X eurolepis A. Henry - hybrid larch. FRI Bulletin No. 124. Rotorua, New Zealand: Ministry of Forestry, Forest Research Institute. 17 p. [22390]
  • 15. Mitchell, Alan F. 1972. Conifers in the British Isles: A descriptive handbook. Forestry Commission Booklet No. 33. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office. 322 p. [20571]
  • 22. Seymour, Frank Conkling. 1982. The flora of New England. 2d ed. Phytologia Memoirs 5. Plainfield, NJ: Harold N. Moldenke and Alma L. Moldenke. 611 p. [7604]
  • 24. Voss, Edward G. 1972. Michigan flora. Part I. Gymnosperms and monocots. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Institute of Science; Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Herbarium. 488 p. [11471]

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Occurrence in North America

CT ME MI NH NY RI VT

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

European larch is an introduced deciduous conifer. Mature height
usually ranges from 30 to 130 feet (9-40 m) in the United States and
Canada; larger individuals have occasionally been reported, particularly
from Europe (up to 177 feet [54 m]) [10,17]. The needles are spirally
arranged in fascicles of 30 to 65 needles, on short shoots. The bark of
young trees is thin, smooth, developing fissures as it matures. On
older trees the bark is very flaky and heavily ridged with wide fissures
[14,15]. In the Alps, the bark at the base of very old trunks is up to
1 foot (30 cm) thick [3]. The crown of young trees is symmetrical,
open, and narrowly conic. Old trees often have large, buttressed low
branches that run level for 8 to 10 feet (2.4-3 m) before turning upward
[10,15]. European larch is characterized as deep-rooted [25].

European larch exhibits rapid early growth and occasionally early
senescence (at 30 to 40 years of age), particularly in mixed stands.
The average age at senescence is between 100 and 150 years of age [10];
ages of 600 years or more have been reported for European larch in the
Alps [3,25]. The oldest European larch on record was 672 years old in
1955. Record height for European larch is reported as 184 feet (56 m)
for a specimen in Baden, Germany [25].
  • 3. Elwes, H. J.; Henry, A. 1907. The trees of Great Britain and Ireland. Edinburgh: privately printed. [Pages unknown]
  • 10. Kostler, Josef. 1956. Silviculture. Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd. 416 p. [22369]
  • 14. Miller, J. T.; Knowles, F. B. 1988. Introduced forest trees in New Zealand: recognition, role, and seed source. 3. The larches. Larix decidua Miller - European larch, Larix kaempferi (Lambert) Carr. - Japanese larch, Larix X eurolepis A. Henry - hybrid larch. FRI Bulletin No. 124. Rotorua, New Zealand: Ministry of Forestry, Forest Research Institute. 17 p. [22390]
  • 15. Mitchell, Alan F. 1972. Conifers in the British Isles: A descriptive handbook. Forestry Commission Booklet No. 33. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office. 322 p. [20571]
  • 17. 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]
  • 25. McComb, A. L. 1955. The European larch: its races, site requirements and characteristics. Forest Science. 1(4): 298-318. [22642]

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Description

Trees to 50 m tall; trunk to 2 m d.b.h.; bark grayish brown, cracking into irregular plates; crown irregularly pyramidal; long branchlets light yellow or light grayish yellow, turning gray or blackish in 2nd or 3rd year, initially glabrous; short branchlets cylindric or subglobose, bearing rings of scale remnants; leaf cushions densely yellow pubescent. Leaves 2-3 cm × 0.5-1 mm, flat or occasionally slightly keeled adaxially, keeled abaxially. Seed cones dark red or purplish, becoming green with pink scale margins, ovoid or ovoid-oblong. Seed scales ovate or suborbicular, 0.8-1.5 × 0.7-1.3 cm, initially reddish pubescent near base abaxially, glabrescent, base narrowed, margin incurved distally, apex repand or shallowly emarginate. Bracts included, apex 3-lobed, cusp exposed, ca. 2.5 mm. Seeds dark brownish gray, ovoid-cuneate, ca. 4 × 2.5 mm; wing pale brown, ovate.
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Diagnostic Description

Synonym

Larix europaea Lamarck & de Candolle.
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
The species occurs in the high mountains of central Europe, at altitudes between (600-)1,000 to 2,200(2,500) m a.s.l.; in the Central Alps it usually forms the tree limit. The soils are neutral to acidic, mostly on granitic rock. The climate has cool, moist summers and cold, snowy winters, but annual precipitation rarely exceeds 1,000 mm. Pure stands are uncommon, more often it is mixed with Pinus cembra in the Alps, below 1,800 m also with Picea abies.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Range and Habitat in Illinois

European Larch has naturalized in NE Illinois, but it is relatively uncommon (see Distribution Map). Habitats consist of woodland borders, moist meadows, edges of yards, roadsides, and abandoned homesteads. This tree was introduced into North America from Europe, where it is typically found in mountainous areas. In Illinois, it is used primarily as a landscape tree.
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Key Plant Community Associations

European larch is a subalpine or montane species, occurring in the Alps
with Swiss stone pine (Pinus cembra) and mountain pine (P. montana). It
sometimes occurs naturally in pure stands [25]. At middle elevations
its associates include Norway spruce (Picea abies) and European silver
fir (Abies alba), and at the lowest elevations it may be found with
European beech (Fagus sylvatica) [3].
  • 3. Elwes, H. J.; Henry, A. 1907. The trees of Great Britain and Ireland. Edinburgh: privately printed. [Pages unknown]
  • 25. McComb, A. L. 1955. The European larch: its races, site requirements and characteristics. Forest Science. 1(4): 298-318. [22642]

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Habitat characteristics

European larch grows best on uniformly moist, deep, fertile soils. It
does not do well on pure sand [10]. Preferred soil textures include
loamy sands, loams, and silty loams. European larch does not occur on
poorly drained or very wet sites [2]. It tolerates soils with a lower
pH limit ranging from 4.0 to 5.0 [10,21], and will tolerate pH of up to
7.8 [25]. In the central Alps, the upper elevational limit of European
larch ranges from 6,500 to 8,000 feet (1,981-2,438 m). The lower
elevational limit in the Alps is around 1,400 feet (427 m) [3];
plantations at lower elevations often suffer from larch canker due to
the increased moisture [25].
  • 2. Einspahr, Dean W.; Wyckoff, Gary W.; Fiscus, Marianne (Harder). 1984. Larch--a fast-growing fiber source for the Lake States and Northeast. Journal of Forestry. 82(2): 104-106. [22389]
  • 3. Elwes, H. J.; Henry, A. 1907. The trees of Great Britain and Ireland. Edinburgh: privately printed. [Pages unknown]
  • 10. Kostler, Josef. 1956. Silviculture. Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd. 416 p. [22369]
  • 21. Vogel, Willis G. 1981. A guide for revegetating coal minesoils in the eastern United States. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-68. Broomall, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station. 190 p. [15575]
  • 25. McComb, A. L. 1955. The European larch: its races, site requirements and characteristics. Forest Science. 1(4): 298-318. [22642]

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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
FRES19 Aspen - birch

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Habitat & Distribution

Cultivated. Jiangxi (Lu Shan), Liaoning (Xiongyuecheng) [native to Europe]
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Associations

Faunal Associations

The caterpillars of several moths feed on Larix spp. (primarily the leaves)
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Foodplant / mycorrhiza / ectomycorrhiza
fruitbody of Suillus grevillei is ectomycorrhizal with live root of Larix decidua x kaempferi (L. x marschlinsii)

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Foodplant / feeds on
Fundatrix nymph of Adelges viridis feeds on live Larix decidua
Remarks: season: winter
Other: major host/prey

Foodplant / open feeder
larva of Anoplonyx destructor grazes on needle of Larix decidua

Foodplant / pathogen
Armillaria mellea s.l. infects and damages Larix decidua

In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Boidinia peroxydata is saprobic on fallen log of Larix decidua

Plant / associate
larva of Callicera rufa is associated with rot hole of Larix decidua

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Coniophora arida is saprobic on decayed wood of Larix decidua

Foodplant / mycorrhiza / ectomycorrhiza
fruitbody of Gomphidius maculatus is ectomycorrhizal with live root of Larix decidua

Foodplant / pathogen
apothecium of Lachnellula willkommii infects and damages cankered, dyingback branch of Larix decidua

Foodplant / parasite
amphigenous, subepidermal pycnium of Melampsora laricis-populina parasitises live leaf of Larix decidua
Remarks: season: 5-6

Foodplant / parasite
amphigenous, grouped or slightly scattered pycnium of Melampsora populnea parasitises live needle of Larix decidua

Foodplant / open feeder
larva of Pachynematus imperfectus grazes on leaf of Larix decidua
Other: sole host/prey

Foodplant / open feeder
larva of Pristiphora glauca grazes on needle of Larix decidua

Foodplant / open feeder
larva of Pristiphora laricis grazes on leaf of Larix decidua

Foodplant / open feeder
larva of Pristiphora wesmaeli grazes on needle of Larix decidua

Foodplant / mycorrhiza / ectomycorrhiza
fruitbody of Suillus bresadolae var. flavogriseus is ectomycorrhizal with live root of Larix decidua

Foodplant / mycorrhiza / ectomycorrhiza
fruitbody of Suillus cavipes is ectomycorrhizal with live root of Larix decidua

Foodplant / mycorrhiza / ectomycorrhiza
fruitbody of Suillus grevillei is ectomycorrhizal with live root of Larix decidua

Foodplant / mycorrhiza / ectomycorrhiza
fruitbody of Suillus tridentinus is ectomycorrhizal with live root of Larix decidua

Foodplant / mycorrhiza / ectomycorrhiza
fruitbody of Suillus viscidus is ectomycorrhizal with live root of Larix decidua

Foodplant / feeds on
Trisetacus laricis feeds on Larix decidua

Foodplant / saprobe
convex, pluriloculate stroma of Cytospora coelomycetous anamorph of Valsa abietis is saprobic on dead twig of Larix decidua
Remarks: season: 12-4

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General Ecology

Fire Management Considerations

More info for the terms: litter, natural

The thick, tightly packed litter produced by European larch may produce
fire behavior that differs from what occurs in natural fuels in North
America [18].

The caloric value of ovendried European larch needles ranged from 4,608
to 4,637 calories per gram. The caloric value of ovendry litter
averaged 3,996 calories per gram [8].

European larch was planted in a fuelbreak on a dry, sandy site in
Wexford County, Michigan, in 1967. After 6 years, European larch had the
highest survival (45 percent) and growth (60 inches [152 cm]) of the
nine species planted [23].
  • 8. Hough, Walter A. 1969. Caloric value of some forest fuels of the southern United States. Res. Note SE-120. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station. 6 p. [10517]
  • 18. Sartz, Richard S.; Tolsted, David N. 1974. Larch litter removal has no significant effect on runoff. Res. Note NC-163. St, Paul MI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. 2 p. [11223]
  • 23. Johnson, Von J. 1975. Hardwood fuel-breaks for northeastern United States. Journal of Forestry. 73(9): 588-589. [10921]

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Regeneration Processes

More info for the term: monoecious

European larch is monoecious. Minimum age of first reproduction is
around 10 years. Large seed crops are produced at 3- to 10-year
intervals. The seeds are wind dispersed. Most larch (Larix spp.) seeds
germinate without pretreatment. European larch seeds can be stored for
3 to 7 years. Viable seeds may remain in the cone for 1 to 2 years
[17]. Stored seed germination rates are improved by stratification at
32 to 39 degrees Fahrenheit (0-4 deg C) for 20 to 60 days [14].
  • 14. Miller, J. T.; Knowles, F. B. 1988. Introduced forest trees in New Zealand: recognition, role, and seed source. 3. The larches. Larix decidua Miller - European larch, Larix kaempferi (Lambert) Carr. - Japanese larch, Larix X eurolepis A. Henry - hybrid larch. FRI Bulletin No. 124. Rotorua, New Zealand: Ministry of Forestry, Forest Research Institute. 17 p. [22390]
  • 17. 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]

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Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)

More info on this topic.

More info for the term: phanerophyte

Phanerophyte

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Life Form

More info for the term: tree

Tree

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Fire Ecology

Information was not available regarding fire ecology or adaptations of
European larch. However, young European larch is probably suceptible to
fire because the bark is thin. Thick bark on mature European larch [15]
and the ability to produce new foliage each year may make them somewhat
fire resistant. In Europe, European larch commonly occurs in
upper-elevation forest zones that rarely burn [10].
  • 10. Kostler, Josef. 1956. Silviculture. Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd. 416 p. [22369]
  • 15. Mitchell, Alan F. 1972. Conifers in the British Isles: A descriptive handbook. Forestry Commission Booklet No. 33. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office. 322 p. [20571]

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Successional Status

More info on this topic.

Facultative Seral Species

European larch is intolerant of shade at any age [10]. Its open crown
transmits a considerable amount of light so that it does not tend to
suppress more tolerant understory species [25].
  • 10. Kostler, Josef. 1956. Silviculture. Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd. 416 p. [22369]
  • 25. McComb, A. L. 1955. The European larch: its races, site requirements and characteristics. Forest Science. 1(4): 298-318. [22642]

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Phenology

More info on this topic.

The growing season of European larch in North America is at least 100
days, longer than that of many native conifers. Bud burst occurs in
early spring, before the ground has completely thawed. Height growth
continues at an appreciable rate until September [1].

The female cones appear before leaf-out in early spring and pollination
occurs from March to May or June [14,17]. The seed cones ripen from
September to December of the same year, and the seeds are dispersed from
September to spring [17]. In Great Britain, European larch cones do not
open until spring [3]. European larch needles die and are abscised in
early November in the British Isles; some are retained through December [15].
  • 1. Cook, David B. 1941. Five seasons' growth of conifers. Ecology. 22(3): 285-296. [10909]
  • 3. Elwes, H. J.; Henry, A. 1907. The trees of Great Britain and Ireland. Edinburgh: privately printed. [Pages unknown]
  • 14. Miller, J. T.; Knowles, F. B. 1988. Introduced forest trees in New Zealand: recognition, role, and seed source. 3. The larches. Larix decidua Miller - European larch, Larix kaempferi (Lambert) Carr. - Japanese larch, Larix X eurolepis A. Henry - hybrid larch. FRI Bulletin No. 124. Rotorua, New Zealand: Ministry of Forestry, Forest Research Institute. 17 p. [22390]
  • 15. Mitchell, Alan F. 1972. Conifers in the British Isles: A descriptive handbook. Forestry Commission Booklet No. 33. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office. 322 p. [20571]
  • 17. 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]

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Larix decidua

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 decidua

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 5
Specimens with Barcodes: 8
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2014

Assessor/s
Farjon, A.

Reviewer/s
Thomas, P., Chadburn, H., Leaman, D.J. & Allen, D.J.

Contributor/s
Allen, D.J., Chadburn, H. & Luscombe, D

Justification
The species is widespread and common to abundant in much of its range; the European Larch is in fact expanding (northwards) with the abandonment of alpine cattle grazing in many parts of high altitude Europe. Larix decidua var. polonica has been assessed separately as it is Endangered. As this variety represents only a very small part of the European population and range, that assessment does not affect the overall assessment of the species.

History
  • 2013
    Least Concern
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National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

Reasons: Native to the Alps of central Europe and the Carpathian Mountains of eastern Europe, now widely planted throughout U.S. and Europe as a decorative and timber spp. (Elias, 1980).

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Population

Population
The overall population is thought to be stable.

Population Trend
Stable
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Threats

Major Threats
No major threats have been identified for this species.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
The species is present in numerous protected areas throughout its range, such as the Ojców National Park, southern Poland (Skrzypczyńska 2004). It is conserved ex situ, for example in Kostrzyca Forest Gene Bank, Poland (ENSCO 2014) and reported to occur in more than 100 botanic gardens worldwide (BCGI 2013).
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Management considerations

More info for the terms: litter, selection

European larch has been used in the eastern United States for
reforestation [7].

Silvicultural systems: Group selection is successful with European
larch, providing that advance regeneration has not been suppressed for
very long; suppressed seedlings do not respond well to release [13].
Planting in mixtures with more tolerant species works well if the stands
are thinned to allow European larch to maintain a dominant crown
position; it does not usually suppress its more tolerant neighbors [25].
European larch planted on slopes are susceptible to stem bending ("saber
growth form") and breakage from snow [13].

European larch grows rapidly and produces heavy litter which forms a
thick, tightly packed mat. In Wisconsin, 10-year-old European larch
plantantions produced twice as much litter by weight as 10-year-old red
pine (Pinus resinosa) [18].

Insects and disease: European larch seeds are vulnerable to seed
weevils [17], adult trees on moist sites are vulneralbe to larch canker
[25]. European larch is host to a number of insect species, none of
which have been of economic importance [25].
  • 7. Harlow, William M.; Harrar, Ellwood S. 1937. Textbook of dendrology. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company Inc. 527 p. [22371]
  • 13. Matthews, J. D. 1989. Silvicultural systems. Oxford: Clavendon Press. 284 p. [22372]
  • 17. 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]
  • 18. Sartz, Richard S.; Tolsted, David N. 1974. Larch litter removal has no significant effect on runoff. Res. Note NC-163. St, Paul MI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. 2 p. [11223]
  • 25. McComb, A. L. 1955. The European larch: its races, site requirements and characteristics. Forest Science. 1(4): 298-318. [22642]

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cultivation

The preference is full sun, moist to mesic conditions, and fertile soil consisting of loam, sandy loam, or silty loam. Shade and poorly drained conditions are not well-tolerated. Growth is rapid for young trees and more slow for older trees. In Europe, longevity of individual trees can exceed 500 years.
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Value for rehabilitation of disturbed sites

European larch is listed by Vogel [21] with other species that are of
"limited importance or use" for revegetation of surface mine
disturbances. It is primarily used for this purpose in Pennsylvania,
West Virginia, and Ohio. It is recommended for rehabilitation of sites
at higher elevations in the northern Appalachians [21].
  • 21. Vogel, Willis G. 1981. A guide for revegetating coal minesoils in the eastern United States. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-68. Broomall, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station. 190 p. [15575]

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Wood Products Value

European larch wood is durable and strong [3], of moderately high
density, with excellent toughness and stiffness. It is used for pulp
[2], framing timber, roof tiles, flooring, and log houses. It is
suitable for veneer and other decorative purposes [14]. Larch (Larix
spp.) wood is resistant to rot, and is therefore valuable for posts,
poles, railroad ties, mine props, wharves, and pilings [3,17].
  • 2. Einspahr, Dean W.; Wyckoff, Gary W.; Fiscus, Marianne (Harder). 1984. Larch--a fast-growing fiber source for the Lake States and Northeast. Journal of Forestry. 82(2): 104-106. [22389]
  • 3. Elwes, H. J.; Henry, A. 1907. The trees of Great Britain and Ireland. Edinburgh: privately printed. [Pages unknown]
  • 14. Miller, J. T.; Knowles, F. B. 1988. Introduced forest trees in New Zealand: recognition, role, and seed source. 3. The larches. Larix decidua Miller - European larch, Larix kaempferi (Lambert) Carr. - Japanese larch, Larix X eurolepis A. Henry - hybrid larch. FRI Bulletin No. 124. Rotorua, New Zealand: Ministry of Forestry, Forest Research Institute. 17 p. [22390]
  • 17. 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]

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Other uses and values

European larch is planted as an ornamental and in shelterbelts [15].
  • 15. Mitchell, Alan F. 1972. Conifers in the British Isles: A descriptive handbook. Forestry Commission Booklet No. 33. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office. 322 p. [20571]

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Wikipedia

Larix decidua

Larix decidua, common name European larch, is a species of larch native to the mountains of central Europe, in the Alps and Carpathian Mountains, with disjunct lowland populations in northern Poland and southern Lithuania.


Description[edit]

European larch morphology features from book: Prof. Dr. Otto Wilhelm Thomé Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz, 1885, Gera, Germany.

Larix decidua is a medium-size to large deciduous coniferous tree reaching 25–45 m tall, with a trunk up to 1 m diameter (exceptionally, to 55 m tall and 2 m diameter). The crown is conic when young, becoming broad with age; the main branches are level to upswept, with the side branches often pendulous. The shoots are dimorphic, with growth divided into long shoots (typically 10–50 cm long) and bearing several buds, and short shoots only 1–2 mm long with only a single bud. The leaves are needle-like, light green, 2–4 cm long which turn bright yellow before they fall in the autumn, leaving the pale yellow-buff shoots bare until the next spring.

The cones are erect, ovoid-conic, 2–6 cm long, with 10-90 erect or slightly incurved (not reflexed) seed scales; they are green variably flushed red when immature, turning brown and opening to release the seeds when mature, 4–6 months after pollination. The old cones commonly remain on the tree for many years, turning dull grey-black.

It is very cold tolerant, able to survive winter temperatures down to at least -50°C, and is among the tree line trees in the Alps, reaching 2400 m altitude, though most abundant from 1000–2000 m. It only grows on well-drained soils, avoiding waterlogged ground and is not shade tolerant.

Subspecies[edit]

There are two subspecies:

  • Larix decidua subsp. decidua - European Larch or Alpine Larch. Most of the range, except as below. Cones 2.5–6 cm; shoots yellow-buff.
  • Larix decidua subsp. polonica - Polish Larch. Disjunct in lowland northern Poland. Cones 2–3 cm; shoots very pale yellow-buff, almost white.

Uses[edit]

L. decidua is cultivated as an ornamental tree for planting in gardens and parks.[1]

Wood

The wood is tough and durable, but also flexible in thin strips, and is particularly valued for yacht building; wood used for this must be free of knots, and can only be obtained from old trees that were pruned when young to remove side branches.

Small larch poles are widely used for rustic fencing.

Bonsai[edit]

The European Larch is a popular Bonsai Species, with many unique specimens available in European Circles, and is popularly used in Bonsai Forest Groups.[2]

Ecology[edit]

The seeds are an important food for some birds, notably Siskin, Lesser Redpoll and Citril Finch, while the buds and immature cones are eaten by Capercaillie.

See also List of Lepidoptera that feed on larches

European Larch needles are the only known food for caterpillars of the case-bearer moth Coleophora sibiricella; its cone scales are used as food by the caterpillars of the tortrix moth Cydia illutana.

Invasive species[edit]

L. decidua is classed as a wilding conifer, an invasive species which spreads into the high country of New Zealand. It was planted by the New Zealand Forest Service for erosion control.

Larix decidua[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Larix decidua". Royal Horticultural Society. Retrieved 23 July 2013. 
  2. ^ D'Cruz, Mark. "Ma-Ke Bonsai Care Guide for Larix decidua". Ma-Ke Bonsai. Retrieved 2011-07-08. 
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Common Names

European larch
common larch

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Synonyms

Larix europaea D. C. [12]
Larix larix Karst. [17]
  • 12. 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]
  • 17. 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]

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The currently accepted scientific name for European larch is Larix
decidua Mill. (Pinaceae) [12]. There are four or five geographic
races, sometimes given status as subspecies or varieties (Alpen [Alpine],
Sudeten, Tatra, Polen [Polish], Rumanian) [17,25]:

L. d. var. decidua
L. d. var. pendula Henk and Hochst. [7]
L. d. var. polonica Raciborski [15]
L. d. var. sudetica [15]
L. d. var. tatrensis [15]

European larch hybridizes with Japanese larch (L. leptolepis) when they
are planted together (they are not sympatric). The hybrid,
L. xeurolepis A. Henry, is called the Dunkeld larch [3,7].
  • 12. 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]
  • 3. Elwes, H. J.; Henry, A. 1907. The trees of Great Britain and Ireland. Edinburgh: privately printed. [Pages unknown]
  • 7. Harlow, William M.; Harrar, Ellwood S. 1937. Textbook of dendrology. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company Inc. 527 p. [22371]
  • 15. Mitchell, Alan F. 1972. Conifers in the British Isles: A descriptive handbook. Forestry Commission Booklet No. 33. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office. 322 p. [20571]
  • 17. 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]
  • 25. McComb, A. L. 1955. The European larch: its races, site requirements and characteristics. Forest Science. 1(4): 298-318. [22642]

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