Bogs and Acidic Peatlands of Southern New England by Marsha C. Salett
Taxonomy
Larix laricina (DuRoi) K. Koch
PINACEAE (Pine Family)
EtymologyLarix is the classical Latin name for larch; laricina is Latin for larch-like.
Synonyms (Common Name)Tamarack
DescriptionThe only deciduous conifer in the Northeast and Canada, Larch is a slim, pyramidal tree with a delicate, lacy aspect. Although it can grow up to 90 feet tall, Larch is often stunted and poorly developed in peatlands. The bark is reddish-brown to gray, and the slim, horizontal branches are studded with clusters of short, soft needles.
Wetland indicator statusFACW
Plant Height40-90 feet
LeavesDeciduous, short needles up to 1" long; soft, flat, arranged in clusters of 8-20 on short twig spurs or singly along new branches of the season; light green to blue green, turning bright yellow in autumn.
FruitCones small (1/2-3/4"), erect, egg-shaped, scaly; magenta when they first appear, turning light brown to tan when mature.
Fruiting PeriodMarch-April, mature by autumn, persist throughout the winter.
HabitatBogs, poor fens, shrub swamps; uplands in northern part of range.
RangeLabrador to Alaska; south to New Jersey and Minnesota; mountains to West Virginia.
Associates
Trees:
Northern White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis)
Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)
Black Spruce (Picea mariana)
Black Ash (Fraxinus nigra)
Yellow Birch (Betula alleghaniensis)
Red Maple (Acer rubrum)
Shrubs:
Speckled Alder (Alnus incana ssp. Rugosa)
Bog Birch (Betula pumila)
Black Chokeberry (Photinia melanocarpa)
Mountain Holly (Nemopanthus mucronatus)
Dwarf Huckleberry (Gaylussacia dumosa var. bigelovianana)
Labrador Tea (Rhododendron groenlandicum)
Bog Laurel (Kalmia polifolia)
Sheep Laurel (Kalmia angustifolia)
Leatherleaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata)
Rhodora (Rhododendron canadense)
Bog Rosemary (Andromeda polifolia var. glaucophylla)
Sweet Gale (Myrica gale)
Wild Raisin (Viburnum nudum var. cassinoides)
Herbs/Groundcovers: Spagnum mosses
American Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon)
Small Cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccus)
Swamp Dewberry (Rubus hispidus)
Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia purpurea)
Creeping Snowberry (Gaultheria hispidula)
Similar Species
None. Larch is the only northern, deciduous conifer.
Seasonal Diagnostics
Spring: Fleshy, bright magenta cones appear before branches are fully leafed out.
Summer: Branches are covered with clusters of soft, green needles.
Fall: Needles turn bright yellow September-November.
Winter: Bare branches are studded with small, round cones.
(c) 1998-2006 Marsha C. Salett