Larix laricina

Tamarack, Eastern Larch




  • native to northern North America, from northern United States into Canada and Arctic Circle
  • Zone 1

Habit and Form

  • deciduous conifer
  • 50' to 80' tall by 20' to 30' wide
  • pyramidal in habit with horizontal branches and weeping branchlets
  • fine to medium foliage texture, coarse in winter
  • slow to moderate growth rate

Summer Foliage

  • 3-sided needle
  • 0.75" to 1.25" long
  • bluish green in color
  • needles in clusters of 30 or less on spurs
  • needles spirally arranged on long shoots
  • dark reddish brown, resinous buds

Autumn Foliage

  • needles turn yellow before dropping
  • typically showy


  • monoecious
  • not especially ornamental


  • globose-ovoid, less than 0.75" long
  • 12 to 20 scales
  • scales are smooth and minutely crenulate


  • scaly, gray to reddish brown
  • young stems are thin, pubescent, and reddish brown


  • cool summers are required
  • moist, well-drained, acidic soil is best, but tolerant of wet soils
  • full sun

Landscape Uses

  • best used in native habitat; not well suited to cultivation
  • fall color
  • work well planted in groves or groupings


  • hard to find
  • not tolerant of any heat, shade, or air pollution
  • larch case-bearer, woolly aphid, sawfly are pest problem
  • intolerant of cultivation

ID Features

  • spurs on branches
  • cones are very small and egg-shaped
  • cones are persistent on tree
  • new stems are pubescent


  • by seeds


Few cultivars of this native species exist, and most are of little commercial importance. Dr. Sid Waxman at the University of Connecticut has selected some dwarf and other specialized forms.

Dwarf forms include: 'Blue Sparkler', with bluish foliage; 'Deborah Waxman', which reaches 4' in time; 'Lanark', which grows very low and wide; and 'Newport Beauty', a tiny form probably never exceeding 2' tall and wide.

© Copyright Mark H. Brand, 1997-2015.

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Citation and Acknowledgements: University of Connecticut Plant Database,, Mark H. Brand, Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, Storrs, CT 06269-4067 USA.