Tree Species of the World's Boreal Forests

Herbs, Shrubs and Other Plants

Terminology | Pictorial

Larix occidentalis
Western Larch
Pinaceae (Pine Family)

A very large deciduous tree with narrow, conical crown of horizontal branches, growing to a height of 24 - 46 m and a diameter of 0.5 - 0.9 m.


Western Larch Distinguishing Features - Needles: deciduous; 2.5 - 4 cm long and 1 mm wide; crowded in cluster on spur twigs; also alternate and scattered on leader twigs; three-angled, stiff, short-pointed, light green, turning yellow in autumn before falling. Bark: reddish-brown, scaly, becoming deeply furrowed into flat ridges with many overlapping plates. Twigs: long leaders, orange-brown and hairy when young, and many short spurs. Cones: 2.5 - 4 cm long; elliptical, brown, upright on short stalks; many rounded, hairy cone-scales shorter than long-pointed bracts; paired, pale brown, long-winged seeds.


Native to southeastern British Columbia south to Montana and Oregon; prefers mountain slopes and valleys on porous, gravelly, sandy, and loamy soils; with other conifers.


The natural sugar in the gum and wood resembles a slightly bitter honey and can be made into medicine and baking powder. The wood is used for construction, paneling, flooring, utility poles, plywood, and pulpwood.

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