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Larix occidentalis

Larix occidentalis Nutt.

Western Larch, Western Tamarack

Pinaceae (Pine Family)



USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

Western larch is a large tree to 200 ft. tall. At maturity the trunk is mostly bare with scaly, cinnamon-colored bark. The deciduous needles are pale green, coloring to deep golden in the fall. Very large deciduous tree with narrow, conical crown of horizontal branches. Cone-covered branches are an attractive winter feature.

Western Larch often follows or survives fires, later being replaced by other conifers. The natural sugar, or galactan, in the gum and wood resembles a slightly bitter honey and can be made into medicine and baking powder. Grouse eat the buds and leaves. The wood is used for construction, paneling, flooring, utility poles, plywood, and pulpwood.


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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Monoecious
Fruit Type: Cone
Leaf: Yellow-Green
Autumn Foliage: yes
Size Class: More than 100 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Red
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May


USA: ID , MT , OR , UT , WA , WY
Canada: BC
Native Distribution: E. of the Cascades from s. B.C. to Deschutes Co., OR, e. to n.w. MT, n. ID & n.e. OR
Native Habitat: Lower, eastside, mt. slopes; valleys; swampy areas

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Moist , Wet
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Wet soils.
Conditions Comments: Not Available


Description: Propagate by seed.
Seed Collection: A ripe cone is made up of woody scales, each of which bears two seeds at the base. Seeds are wind dispersed, so many cones still on the tree may be empty. The seed is winged and triangular in shape. Collect in fall.
Seed Treatment: Pretreatment is not usually necessary. If seeded in spring, a cool-moist stratification for 20-60 days is often used.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

Additional resources

USDA: Find Larix occidentalis in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Larix occidentalis in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Larix occidentalis


Record Modified: 2007-01-01
Research By: TWC Staff

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