Larix occidentalis (Western Larch)


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Plant Description: The Western larch is a fast-growing, long-living, very large tree. It has a pyramidal shaped crown, with branches growing horizontally outward, though slightly drooping, near the bottom of the crown. A deep, spreading root system provides good anchorage for these large trees. The bark is thin and scaly when young, turning reddish brown, deeply furrowed and thickening with age. The bright green leaves are needle-like, short and soft, growing in clusters of 15-30. Leaves turn bright yellow in autumn and eventually fall. Male cones are very small, female cones only 1-1.5 in with long bracts extending from each scale. 

The leaves of this plant were traditionally used by Indigenous communities for medicinal purposes. Larch contains arabinogalactan, which may help to alleviate a variety of ailments and promote beneficial bacterial growth in the intestines. *CONSULT A PROFESSIONAL FOR MEDICAL USE*

  • Height: 30-70 ft
  • Width: 5-15 ft
  • Watering needs: Likes moisture
  • Sun needs: Sun to partial shade
  • Soil needs: Moist to wet soil

Landscape Use and Ecological Function: Larix occidentalis is the only deciduous conifer native to the Northwest. It is native to alpine and sub alpine forests, ranging from Southern British Columbia and Alberta to Northeastern Oregon and into the Western parts of Montana and Wyoming. Western larch is found in mountain valleys, mixed upland stands preferring northern exposures and growing at elevations ranging from 1500-7000 ft.

This plant is excellent in a variety of gardens, including woodland gardens and conventional or ornamental gardens. It also does well in food forests and meadowscapes. The primary uses of this plant are for creating habitat and canopy. It’s a host tree for many nest-building animals. Additionally, its lumber is one of the most valuable in Western North America because of its characteristic of having very dense and strong wood.

Growing Conditions: Grows best in sun and in moist to wet soil. Tolerate of cold winters.

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