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Larch (Larix)

  • Needles are deciduous. They fall from the tree in winter, turning brilliant yellow before they fall.
  • Needles are about 1" long and typically grow in dense clusters (20-40) attached to short woody shoots (called spur shoots).
  • Needles are soft to the touch--never sharp or spiny. Current-year needles are borne singly on slender pegs.
  • Small, woody cones (1-2" long).


Larches are different from most conifers because they're deciduous--they lose their needles each fall. In addition, their needles are arranged differently from those of most conifers; on current-year twigs they're borne singly, but on older twigs they arise in dense clusters from stout, woody pegs that resemble wooden barrels. Only 10 species of larch occur in the world, mostly in cold parts of the northern hemisphere. Only western larch and subalpine larch grow in the Pacific Northwest. Larches are commonly called tamaracks, especially by people whose roots are in eastern North America.

species pageFor more information on the larch native to the Pacific Northwest, go to the species page or see "Trees to Know in Oregon".

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