Abies larix (L.) J.St.-Hil.
Larix caducifolia Gilib.
Larix carpatica (Domin) Domin
Larix communis Lindl.
Larix europaea DC.
Larix excelsa Link
Larix gracilis A.Dietr.
Larix larix (L.) H.Karst.
Larix polonica Racib. ex Wóycicki
Larix pyramidalis Salisb.
Larix sudetica Domin
Larix vulgaris Fisch. ex Spach
Peuce larix (L.) Rich.
Picea larix (L.) Peterm.
Pinus laeta Salisb.
Pinus larix L.
Common Name: Larch
Larix decidua is a deciduous tree that can grow up to 45 metres tall
The plant is widely cultivated and also harvested from the wild for its highly valued wood. It is often used as a herbal medicine and cultivars for ornamental use have been developed.
Larix decidua is widespread and common to abundant in much of its range, and is in fact expanding (northwards) with the abandonment of alpine cattle grazing in many parts of high altitude Europe. The plant is classified as 'Least Concern' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2017)[
Mountains of central Europe - Poland to France and Italy, east to Ukraine, Romania and the Balkans
Forms extensive open forests, often with Pinus cembra or Picea abies, especially at high elevations where it often forms the tree-line, growing.on neutral to acidic soils, mostly on granitic rock; at elevations from 600 - 2,500 metres[
|Conservation Status||Least Concern
Larix is a very cold-hardy plant, able to tolerate temperatures down to around -30°c when fully dormant[
]. It prefers clear transitions between the seasons, it can be excited into growth by a period of mild weather early in the season and this young growth can then be badly damaged if there is then a return to cold weather[
Prefers an open airy position in a light or gravelly well-drained soil[
]. It tolerates acid and infertile soils, though it dislikes very peaty or very chalky soils[
]. Another report says that it tolerates chalky soils[
]. Succeeds on rocky hill or mountain sides and slopes[
]. Tolerates salt-laden gales according to one report[
] whilst another says that it dislikes exposed positions[
]. The larch dislikes atmospheric pollution and so does not grow well in towns[
]. A north or east aspect is more suitable than west or south[
]. It dislikes growing in wet ground or frost pockets[
], and grows best in areas with abundant rainfall[
The larch is a very ornamental tree that is widely grown for forestry[
]. It is very fast growing with new annual growth of 1.5 metres often found and trees can average 60cm or more for many years[
]. The dormant trees are very cold hardy, but they are often excited into premature growth in Britain by mild spells during the winter, the plants are then subject to damage by late frosts and cold winds[
The young shoots have a delicate mossy fragrance as the leaves unfold[
Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus.
Open ground plants, 1 year x 1 year are the best for planting out, do not use container grown plants with spiralled roots[
]. Plants transplant well, even when coming into growth in the spring[
Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[
Inner bark - it can be eaten raw or can be dried, ground into a powder and used with cereal flours in making bread etc[
A sweet-tasting manna is obtained from the trunk, it can be eaten raw but is mainly used medicinally[
]. Another report says that 'Briancon manna' is exuded from the leaves in the summer[
]. It is white, sweet and almost odourless[
The bark, stripped of its outer layer, is astringent, balsamic, diuretic, expectorant, stimulant and vulnerary[
]. Its main application is as an expectorant in chronic bronchitis and has also been given internally in the treatment of haemorrhage and cystitis[
]. A cold extract of the bark is used as a laxative[
]. As an external application, it is useful in the treatment of chronic eczema and psoriasis[
]. The powdered bark can be used on purulent and difficult wounds to promote their healing[
]. The bark is harvested in the spring and should be dried rapidly[
The turpentine obtained from the resin is antiseptic, balsamic, diuretic, haemostatic, rubefacient and vermifuge[
]. It is a valuable remedy in the treatment of kidney, bladder and rheumatic affections, and also in diseases of the mucous membranes and the treatment of respiratory complaints[
]. Other reports say that it is contraindicated for anyone with a kidney complaint[
]. Externally, the turpentine is used in the form of liniment plasters and inhalers[
]. It has also been suggested for combating poisoning by cyanide or opium[
The plant is used in Bach flower remedies - the keywords for prescribing it are 'Lack of confidence', 'Anticipation of failure' and 'Despondency'[
A fast-growing tree that establishes itself rapidly and is also said to improve the quality of the soil, the larch can be used as a pioneer species on cleared and exposed land in order to assist the establishment of other woodland trees[
Large quantities of resin are obtained by tapping the trunk[
]. Small holes are bored into the trunk, most resin being obtained from near the centre of the trunk[
]. When properly made, the same borehole can be used for 20 - 30 years[
]. The resin has a wide range of uses including wood preservatives, varnish, medicinal etc[
]. It needs no preparation other than straining through a cloth to remove plant debris etc[
]. The hole is made in the spring and the resin extracted in the autumn[
]. Resin can be extracted from May to October[
]. The yield is about 40 grams per tree[
The bark contains tannin[
]. This is much utilized in N. Europe[
], though in Britain the oak is considered to be a better source[
]. On a 10% moisture basis, the bark contains 11.6% tannin[
The wood is durable, tough, elastic, easy to split, takes a good polish[
]. Larch produces one of the toughest woods obtained from conifers and is also resistant to woodworm[
]. It is widely used in construction, for railway sleepers, cabinet work etc[
Trees with a curved base were split and hollowed and the two halves joined to make 'Alphorns', large wind instruments with a far carrying low tone[
Seed - sow late winter in pots in a cold frame. One months cold stratification helps germination[
]. It is best to give the seedlings light shade for the first year[
]. As soon as they are large enough to handle, prick out the seedlings into individual pots. Although only a few centimetres tall, they can be planted out into their permanent positions in the summer providing you give them an effective weed-excluding mulch and preferably some winter protection for their first year. Otherwise grow them on in the cold frame for their first winter and plant them out in early summer of the following year. The seed remains viable for 3 years[
If you are growing larger quantities of plants, you can sow the seed in an outdoor seedbed in late winter. Grow on the seedlings in the seedbed for a couple of years until they are ready to go into their permanent positions then plant them out during the winter.