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Larix

Larch
Pinaceae
Deciduous, Trees

These conifers form slender pyramids with horizontal branches and drooping branchlets. Needles are 1/2–1 1/2 in. long, in fluffy tufts. Except as noted, those of the species listed in this database are soft to the touch. Woody, roundish, 1/2–1 1/2-in.-long cones are scattered all along branchlets. Notable for color in spring and fall and for winter silhouette. In spring, these show off pale green tufts of new needles and bright purple-red new cones. In fall, needles turn brilliant yellow and orange before dropping. Winter interest is enhanced by the many cones, which turn brown with age and hang on to create a polka dot pattern against the sky.

Larix decidua
Larix decidua

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Larix decidua

From the mountains of Europe. Moderate to fast growth 30–60 ft. tall and 10–25 ft. wide. Grass-green summer foliage, yellow-orange fall color.

Larix kaempferi (photo courtesy of Bailey Nurseries, Inc.)
Larix kaempferi (photo courtesy of Bailey Nurseries, Inc.)

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Larix kaempferi

Native to Japan. This is the most frequently planted larch in the West. Fast growing to 60 ft. or taller and 20–30 ft. wide, but can be dwarfed in containers. Summer foliage is bluish green. ‘Diana’ grows to 45 ft. tall and 20 ft. wide, with twisted growth.

Larix occidentalis

Native to the Cascades and northern Rocky Mountains. Grows to 150–200 ft. tall as a timber tree, but usually just 30–50 ft. tall and 10–15 ft. wide in gardens. Sharp, stiff needles are blue-green to gray-green in summer.

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