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Larix laricina (Du Roi) K. Koch
Tamarack, American larch, Hacmatack
USDA Symbol: lala
USDA Native Status: Native to U.S.
American larch or tamarack is a slender-trunked, conical tree, 50-75 ft. tall, with bright green, deciduous needles. The glossy needles appear in remarkably soft tufts in early spring. Deciduous tree with straight, tapering trunk and thin, open, conical crown of horizontal branches; a shrub at timberline. In autumn they color golden-yellow before falling to the ground.
One of the northernmost trees, the hardy Tamarack is useful as an ornamental in very cold climates. Indians used the slender roots to sew together strips of birch bark for their canoes. Roots bent at right angles served the colonists as knees in small ships, joining the ribs to deck timbers. The durable lumber is used as framing for houses, railroad cross-ties, poles, and pulpwood. The larch sawfly defoliates stands in infrequent years, causing damage or death.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Tree Leaf Retention: Deciduous Leaf Complexity: Simple Breeding System:
, Monoecious Fruit Type:
Dark Green Autumn Foliage:
Brown Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Red , Yellow , Green , Brown
Bloom Time: Apr
AK , CT , IL , IN , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , NH , NJ , NY , OH , PA , RI , VT , WI , WV Canada: AB
, SK Native Distribution:
Boreal N. America, s. to B.C., c. MN, extreme n.e. IL, n. PA & NJ; also mts. of WV & MD Native Habitat:
Cold bogs & wet forests USDA Native Status: L48(N), AK(N), CAN(N),
Growing ConditionsWater Use:
Medium Light Requirement:
Sun , Shade Soil Moisture:
Moist , Wet CaCO3 Tolerance:
Low Soil Description:
Wet, acid soils. Conditions Comments:
Tamarack is one of the most cold-hardy native
trees. It casts a light shade and may be underplanted with acid-loving wildflowers and shrubs. It is intolerant of shade, heat, and polluted areas. It is also intolerant of dry, shallow, chalky soils, but does adapt to sites slightly drier than its natural habitat. Its deciduousness makes it nearly immune to winter road salt. Prune, if necessary, in mid-summer. The tree
is subject to Larch case-borer, Larch saw-fly, wood rot and several rust fungi. The Alaskan tamarack, var. alaskensis, is usually much smaller, barely reaching 30 ft. in height.
Seeds are a favorite of crossbills, and the buds are eatem by spruce grouse. Tamaracks are often used as nesting sites. Use Other:
Larch wood is not valued for lumber but has been used occasionally in rough construction and as poles, piers and railway ties. (Kershaw)
First Nations used the roots of tamarack for sewing the strips of birch bark
in their canoes. (Peattie) Attracts:
Birds , Butterflies Larval Host:
Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)
is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
Seeds germinate fairly well without pretreatment. Sow in fall. Any dormancy can be overcome with stratification. Cuttings are difficult to root. Loses needles in fall. Seed Collection:
A ripe cone is made up of woody scales, each of which bears two seeds at the base. Seeds are wind dispersed, so many cones still on the tree
may be empty. The seed is winged and triangular in shape. Collect in fall. Seed Treatment:
Pretreatment is not usually necessary. If seeded in spring, a cool-moist stratification for 20-60 days is often used. Commercially Avail:
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Record Modified: 2012-10-20
Research By: TWC Staff