Western larch is a deciduous conifer, losing it's needles in the fall. It grows to 150 feet (45 meters).
is a distinctive tree that is easy to identify.
Its needles are less than 2 inches long, but come in bundles like a
pine. The needles grow from short spur twigs, with 15-30 needles in
each bundle. The tree is even easier to identify in the fall, when the
needles turn golden-yellow. In the
it easy to identify because it is the only conifer with no needles. You
see the distinctive spur twigs standing out from each bare branch.
Larches are among a few deciduous conifers.
The cones look
similar to mountain hemlock cones, but they
have distinctive whiskery bracts that stick out beyond the scales.
The bark has gray or brown flaky plates, becoming furrowed on older
Where it grows:
Cascades, western larch grows mostly on the east side at elevations up
to 6000 feet (1800 meters). It also grows in the mountains of
northeastern Oregon and Washington, and in northern Idaho and western Montana.
Similar tree: Alpine larch grows
in the North Cascades of Washington but is missing entirely from the
Oregon Cascades. It usually grows at elevations
higher than western larch, near the timberline. You
can distinguish these two species by looking at the shape of the
needles. Western larch needles are 3-sided, while alpine larch
needles have 4 sides. Also, western larch cones
connect to the branch on short stalks, while alpine larch cones are
Western larch is
made into lumber used for framing and finishing. It's also used for
pulp and firewood.
means "western," and Larix,
translates to "larch." It's
a rare occasion where the scientific and common names
common names: Tamarack, hackmatack, and mountain larch.