European larch

Larix decidua or a deciduous conifer larch.

Larch (European Larch)

Larix decidua (Bot.)
European larch (Eng.)
Mélèze (French)
Lärche, Lorchbaum (German)
Pinaceae – pine family

Larch is part of a very old tree, the pine, which has about 30 000 years ago on Earth grew. Spectacular is the larch by its beautiful yellow orange needles in autumn. It blooms for the first time at the age of 20 to 30 years.

Naming and dissemination

The meaning of the word larch is unknown, but does decidua deciduous.

The original range includes the European mountains (Alps), where the larch is reduced after the ice ages. Larch forests found in the Central Alps, Carpathians, Sudetenland and Poland. The trees can tolerate harsh winters and hot summers (continental climate). In the northern Alps, they stand with spruce.

In the Netherlands we like the larch forest and ornamental tree.

Plant Characteristics

In spring, the larch remarkably fresh green young leaves. In autumn, the needles are yellow-orange colored, but during the winter, he is bald. He is an exception within the pine family.

needles in the fall

In the spring the first run of needles, which are called short lots. These are in rosettes at the top of the branches. By the end of June called Sintjanslot develops, which later became the long shoot lots.

Larch flower in April. The yellow egg-shaped male flowers (catkins) to develop the short-shoots, most red female flowers on the long shoots.

At first, the small cones and green, light brown when ripe. The cones are made of scales lying over each other. Under each scale there are two seeds. They sometimes remain hanging on the branches for years.

The larch is 50 m high and 600 years old. He greets quickly. Its narrow conical crown first, later often broad with a flattened top.

He is monoecious, ie male and female flowers are on the same tree.

The wood is yellowish and has a reddish-brown core.

Larch in bloom


Larch grows in loose, fertile soil, preferably on clay. He really does not like clay, acid soil and shifting sands. For its growth, he has lots of light and space. He can withstand frost and heat. Larch is a valuable forest tree, resistant to storms, frost and heavy snow.


Larch trees were considered sacred pilgrimage sites planted. In pre-Christian times he was a people of northern Siberia revered as divine. In a grove of larch 7 magic rituals were performed.

In Tyrol, the larch tree venerated as a saint. Who cut off a branch of it, a bleeding wound finned itself, which is not healed until the wound was healed of the tree.


Larch tree of the fairies and wizards. He was in the Alps often planted tree house because it was believed that he would accommodate friendly tree spirits.

The house would not be struck by lightning.

A place surrounded by larch, was dancing for mountain fairies. Smoke from larch wood protected for negative influences and spirits.

In the Walpurgis Night (feast of the eight witches) were larch branches hung windows and doors to witches and evil spirits away and the children for the evil eye protection.


The wood is strong, tough, durable, resinous and dries quickly. It is used as construction timber, for the manufacture of doors and window frames, for the ship – and bridge construction, furniture, barrels and roof tiles.

In folk medicine is taking medicines from the bark, the resin and the young shoots. The resin is known as larch turpentine extracted (Venetian turpentine). Resin is also used for wound healing, psoriasis, coughs, bronchitis. It works antiseptic, promotes better blood flow, has expectorant and lift the mood.

young Larix


The Japanese larch (larch leptolepsis) comes from Hondo, one of the Japanese islands. Leptolepsis means wide cone scales. Typical of this species are the long, coarse, scattered and out outstanding branches, the tree a wide cone shape. This tree hLarix sibirica autumn light red purple dress issues, often bluish dewy branches with long blue-green needles.

The seed scales are on the edge bent outwards (like a petal of the rose). He is with us often planted as an ornamental tree.

A cross of European and Japanese larch is Larix x eurolepsis Henry.

For there is also an ornamental with drooping branches larch (Larix pendula). In the Siberian taiga Larix sibirica grows alongside pine and spruce. Lacricina Larch is a species native to North America.


Larch dies outside the natural range under attack by the so-called larch cancer. On dead branches appear different colored liver and lichens that are used in floral art like. Japanese larch is less susceptible to larch cancer.

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One Response to European larch

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