Larch, Larix decidua

Conifer with deciduous leaves,
of the family Pinaceae (Cedar, Norway Spruce, Larch, Pine, Fir, Hemlock)

Etymology: of Alpine word "mel", honey. Its Latin name, Larix, comes from its Gallic name.
Origin: the Larch is native to Alps (1200-2400 m of altitude) and from Carpathians.
Habitat: mountain forests. The Larch prefers a clay soil. Its roots live in symbiosis with mushrooms which give nutritious salts and accept carbon hydroxides (idem: Beech, Hazel). The needles of the Larch improve the soil, making easier the introduction of other species, as the Norway Spruce.
Lifespan: 600 years.
Height: 40 m tall. Its trunk is right and can measure 1,5 m of diameter.
System root: the larch has deep and sprawling main roots, as far as the soil which receives it is also of a good depth. An insulated Larch has a system completely developed root which serves it anchoring.
Grey bark and ruddy reddish-brown, first smooth, then cracking in flakes.
Shape: conical narrow. Stems are drooping, as those of the Norway Spruce. The foliage is sparse.

Deciduous foliage (exception among conifers). Needles are grouped in clusters from 20 to 40, on short stems. They are soft, light green, of 3 cm. It is not possible to confuse the Larch with the Cedar of Lebanon because on one hand the stem which carries the needles of the Cedar is shorter, on the other hand the form of the cedar is particular (tabular).
Flowers: males, grouped in round catkins, are yellow, sessiles and pendulous, while females, grouped in solitary catkins, are, on the contrary, bright red and upright.
Ovoid brown cones (3-4 cm). They have fine and pointed scales which protect seeds brown, shining and provided with a wing. The differentiation between Larch and Cedar is sure with fruits (upright cone of 8 cm of the cedar).
Uses: all resinous, the larch is the one which gives the most solid, most lasting wood. Its wood, rotproof, is exploited to fabricate boats, frameworks, posts, roofing shingles, railway sleepers. We meet few larch in the city because it badly supports the pollution.

Other species: Western larch, native to North America, where it can attain 60 m tall. It is exploited for the timber. Needles are triangular and pointed, and saw in the gold in September.

Gold larch, Pseudolarix amabilis:
Origin: China.
Habitat: mixed forests of low altitude in its origin habitat. ornamental tree in Europe.
Height: 15-25 m tall.
Deciduous foliage: light green, flexible needles, which take nice colours gilt in autumn.
Cones which open in maturity to disperse seeds, as Abies and Cedrus.


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