Larch – Larix genus
It’s been awhile since we had Tom the Tree Man provide us with an excerpt about a tree located on the golf course. If you’d like to read others, check them out: Sawtooth Oak, American Persimmon, Tulip Tree, and the Chinese Elm.
Take it away, Tom!
Author: Tom Brady
Larch, “Larix genus.” Rather than write about a single species, I thought I would group them together. This seems like the thing to do, since even though I have at least six species of larch planted, I can’t tell them apart at their younger age. Even the “books” say that larches have many more similarities than differences.
Larches are deciduous conifers. Their strategy for surviving the winter is to drop their needles every fall. Despite going through this “extra work,” they are relatively fast growing. I have a Japanese Larch (Larix kaempferi) that is 15 – 20 feet tall after seven years.
Larches grow their needles in tufts of 15 to 40 needles on raised pegs sticking out from the stem. The young spring needles are light green which turn a darker green in the summer, and golden yellow before dropping in the fall.
All of the trees I have show nearly perfect pyramidal growth with a strong center leader. Unlike most of the trees that I’ve written about, larches are generally native to climates colder than Iowa. Despite this, most will thrive here. I’ve not figured out how to grow conifers from seed, so all of my trees were purchased as seedlings from catalogs. If you want to plant one, give it room, for they range in height from 70 to 100 feet or more.
We have many larches on the golf course and hundreds more in the CRP ground (the young forest between the golf course and NE 80th Street, north of number one and two) You can easily spot them in the fall because their needles turn gold before falling. There’s a larch between 13 green and 16 green. It has many small cones on it.