LARIX: Larch Tree
European Larch, Larix decidua
Larix decidua 'Horstmann's Recurva' – Contorted branches is especially decorative in winter, after needles drop. 'Horstmann's Recurva' is semi-dwarf & grows much more slowly than Larix kaempferi 'Diana', another contorted form.
Semi-dwarf, grows 6-12"/yr, 8' x 6' in 10years.
Larix decidua 'Pendula', Weeping Larch – This is the most popular cultivar here at the nursery. Bright green needles in spring turn gold before dropping in fall. If a weeping Larch is trained to form a trunk, the leader can be trained in any direction & will reach 10-12' x 6-8' in 10 years. All side branches weep to the ground.
Weeping Larch can also grow without a leader along the ground or spill over the side of a pot. Large, grows over 12"/yr, 10-12' in 10 years.
Larix decidua 'Puli'
Puli Weeping Larch – A newer form of weeping Larch that maintains a much more narrow shape than Larix decidua 'Pendula'.
Semi-dwarf, grows 6-12"/yr, 8' x 2' in 10 years.
Dahurian Larch, Larix gmelinii
Larix gmelinii 'Romberg Park' – A cute round dwarf form of Larch, perfect for rock gardens. Soft green needles turn orange before dropping in autumn, short stiff branches are almost as decorative bare as with foliage.
Dwarf, grows 2-3"/yr, 2' x 3' in 10 years.
Japanese Larch, Larix kaempferi or Larix leptolepis
Larix kaempferi– Native to Japanese forests, this form grows fast and upright in a pyramid shape. It's a traditional subject for bonsai.
Larix kaempferi 'Diana' – 'Diana' is a fast-growing upright form that develops a graceful pyramid shape despite its contorted branches.
Grows about 12"/yr, 12' x 8' in 10 years, 25' x 15' in 20 years.
Eastern Larch, Tamarack Larix laricina
Larix laricina 'Deborah Waxman' – Most dwarf Larch grow in a round or irregular shape. Not so with 'Deborah Waxman'. It forms a super cute pyramid shape, perfect for most city gardens. Blue-green needles in spring turn gold before dropping in autumn. Grows 3-6"/yr, 5' x 3' in 10 years.
Western Larch, Larix occidentalis
Our native Larch grows at high elevations east of the Cascade Mountains in Oregon & Washington, Northern Idaho & Canada. It grows fast to 100-200', has a narrow open crown, and a trunk 4' in diameter. Magnificent indeed.
Our thanks to Iseli Nursery and OSU for the photos.
Genus: Larix (LER-icks)
Common: Larch, Tamarack
Origin: Cold regions of Europe, Asia, North America
Characteristics: Deciduous conifers – Larix have needles & cones & loose their needles in autumn. 12-15 species.
Soft green needles spiral around branches. They look like flowers when emerging in spring. In fall, needles turn gold, orange & brown before dropping.
Female cones are very decorative, sitting erectly atop branches.
Many different cultivated forms exist. Many are fast-growing, tall & narrow while others weep to the ground or have contorted branches. Several dwarf forms are also in cultivation.
Size: Varies by species & cultivar
Dwarf forms grow between 1-6" per year. Larix gmelinii 'Romberg Park' is a dwarf Larch that grows about 3 inches per year in a globe shape. In 10 years it will be about 2' x 3'. Given 20 years it could be 4' x 6'.
Weeping forms tend to grow fast. If they grow untrained, they create a lovely groundcover, about 12 inches tall & 12 feet wide in 10 years. If a weeping Larch is trained to form a trunk, the leader can be trained in any direction & will reach 10-12' in 10 years. The side-branches will weep to the ground.
Upright Larch are typically very fast-growing. Our native Western Larch, Larix occidentalis, grows in the same forests as Ponderosa Pine and grows just as tall, reaching over 200 feet in some areas. Upright Larch usually grow in an upright pyramid shape.
Culture: Sun, well-drained moist soil
Problems: Larix naturally lose their needles in autumn. Folks who purchase Larch believing them to be evergreen like most other conifers are often surprised when the needles drop, and mistakenly think the plant is dead.
Dwarf Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that causes swelling at the point of infection and mutates growth, creating 'witches brooms'; clusters of very tight slow-growth in an otherwise large & open tree. Western Larch can be seriously damaged by this disease, but it occurs mostly in Eastern Oregon.