Larix occidentalis
(Western Larch)

Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinatae
Family: Pinaceae
Family Description: Pine
Key Characteristics:
Also known as Hackmatack.
  • deciduous every fall;
  • 15-30 fairly stiff needles on tips of spurs;
  • 2.5 to 4.5 cm long, broadly triangular in cross section;
  • upper surface my have small ridge, lower surface distinctly centrally ridged;
  • no visible resin ducts in cross section.
  • yellowish staminate cones are approximately 1 cm long;
  • ovulate cones usually about 3 cm long with reddish-brown scales which are shorter than the greenish-brown to yellowish-red, long tailed bracts which protrude between them.
  • are reddish-brown, about 3 mm long with 3 mm long wings.

General Description:
A deciduous tree up to 75 m tall ad 1-2 m in diameter with a short pyramidal crown, with thick, deeply-furrowed, brown bark; young twigs never tomentose; leaves 2.5-5 cm long, Short-stalked, ridged on the inner faces; cones 3-4 cm long, oblong, with scales nearly orbicular and bracts much longer than the scales; seeds 6 mm long. Moist mt. slopes, W. Mont, to B. C., actors N. Idaho to Oregon.

Southern British Columbia southward east of the Cascade mountains in northeastern Oregon and adjacent Washington east to Northwestern Montana and northern Idaho.

Mixed with other gymnosperms in mountain valleys and lower slopes, often in swampy areas.

Seeds are consumed by mice, chipmunks, and birds such as the red crossbill. Buds and needles are eaten by grouse. The wood is hard, close grained and very durable. It is used for flooring, pilings, fence posts, railroad ties and interior and exterior finishing. It is exported to Japan as logs and processed into lumber and resold to the U. S. markets under names such as western spruce.

Important State References:
No information available at this time
Photos & information written by Dr. Karl E. Holte,© 2002