Basic Information
Tree ID: 
Genus and species: 
Larix laricina, commonly referred to as the tamarack or American larch (USDA symbol LALA), is a slender, conical-shaped tree belonging to the Pinaceae (Pine) family that grows 40 to 80 feet tall. The larch species is the only known deciduous conifers aside from the bald cypress. Just like other deciduous trees, their tufts of glossy needles (typically a bright green) turn golden-yellow and fall off in autumn. The tamarack’s deciduousness makes it practically immune to the road salt that is frequently laid down during winters.
Collected Data
Tree shape: 
Date of tree entry: 
2.30 m
Diameter at breast height: 
0.03 m

Tamarack bark is tight with some flaking and nodules. The bark is grey with a slight pink appearance, with a darker red coloring underneath the bark.
Twigs & branches
Tamarack twigs and branches are a light pink/orange grey with overlapping scaling/undeveloped buds regularly dispersed in an alternate pattern across the surface. Terminal buds are smooth and a dark reddish brown color.
Tamarack leaves have a flattened dorsal surface and a keeled bottom to form a triangular leaf cross-section. In mature trees, they are typically 2-5 cm in length and are arranged in tufts (approx. 15-20 per tuft) stemming from buds arranged along the branches. Leaves are a blue-green color in late spring and summer and turn golden and brown in the fall, during which time they are shed to conserve energy.
Reproductive Structures
The tamarack produces both male and female reproductive structures. Male structures appear as flattened flowerlike forms that disperse pollen. Female structures go through progressive stages of maturity ranging from a flowerlike appearance (shown above) to a fully developed, maroon cone that, once fertilized, releases brown seed pods containing two,dry, flattened seeds. After the release of its seeds, the cone turns brown and falls off with the leaves during winter. Cone production begins at about 15-40 years of age.
None. The tamarack is a non-fruit producing gymnosperm.
  • Winter
  • Spring
  • Summer
  • Autumn
Natural range of distribution: 
The tamarack/larch is native to Alaska, Canada, the Northern United States, and St. Pierre and Miquelon (France), and is considered threatened in both Illinois and Rhode Island and endangered in Maryland. One of the most cold-hearty, northernmost native trees, the tamarack is frequently used as an ornamental plant in very cold climates.
Origin, history, and uses: 

The word tamarack is actually the Algonquian (a subfamily of Native American languages) name for the species and means “wood used for snowshoes.” This species’ slender roots was also used by Native Americans to sew together swaths of birch bark for the construction of canoes and by colonists to join the ribs of deck timbers on ships. The tamarack’s slow growth allows for the development of wood with high resin content, making it resistant to decay and ideal for commercial use in posts, poles, and railroad ties (also known as rough construction). This high resin content gives it poor pulping properties, so the species has limited pulping utility, but larch bark contains tannins, which can be used for tanning leather.

The seasonal progression of the Tamarack is a follows: In the spring, the needle buds begin to break, subsequently followed by the development of the pollen cones. Immediately following the sprouting and maturation of the needles, the pollen cones open and release pollen into the environment in order to fertilize nearby female cones. These cones proceed to ripen and mature until the seed and cones are prepared to drop. As the seeds continue to drop, the tree's needles begin to change color from a deep green to yellow to brown, during which time they begin to fall until the tree is bare in order to conserve energy throughout the Winter until Spring, when the cycle begins again.
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