TREES & plants

European larch

Cones of European larch.

European larch is a great choice for specimen plantings or in groups for parks and large areas. Unlike most conifers, it drops its needles in winter. Bright green foliage in spring changes to medium green throughout summer, turning a golden yellow in fall before falling.

Botanical name: 
Larix decidua
All Common Names: 
European larch, common larch
Family (English): 
Family (Botanic): 
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Tree
  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
Native Locale: 
  • Non-native
Planting Site: 
  • Residential and parks
Landscape Uses: 
  • Specimen, 
  • Shade tree, 
  • Massing
Size Range: 
  • Large tree (more than 40 feet)
Mature Height: 
70-75 feet
Mature Width: 
25-30 feet
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 3, 
  • Zone 4, 
  • Zone 5 (Chicago), 
  • Zone 6
Soil Preference: 
  • Moist, well-drained soil
Acid Soils: 
  • Tolerant
Alkaline Soils: 
  • Moderately Tolerant
Salt Spray: 
  • Tolerant
Soil Salt: 
  • Intolerant
Drought Conditions: 
  • Intolerant
Poor Drainage: 
  • Intolerant
Planting Considerations: 
  • Intolerant of pollution
Ornamental Interest: 
  • Spring blossoms, 
  • Fall color, 
  • Showy fruit
Season of Interest: 
  • Early fall, 
  • Mid fall
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Inconspicuous
Shape or Form: 
  • Irregular, 
  • Pyramidal
Growth Rate: 
  • Moderate, 
  • Fast
Transplants Well: 
  • Yes
  • Insect-eating birds, 
  • Moths, 
  • Seed-eating birds
More Information: 

A mature specimen of European larch.European larch (Larix decidua)photo: John Hagstrom

Tree & Plant Care

Best in sunny site with moist soil. Tolerant of temporary flooding and wet conditions.
Prune in mid-summer.

Disease, pests, and problems

Larch case-bearer can be a problem.

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to Europe.

Bark color and texture 

Mature bark is a scaly, reddish brown.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Clusters of 2 inch long needles on older branches, singularly on new growth.
Bright green in spring changing to medium green throughout summer.
Fall color is golden yellow.  Needles are deciduous.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Female flowers are 1/2 inch long and reddish, male flowers are smaller, yellow , and catkin-like along the same twigs.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Small, 3/4 to 1 inch cones persisting throughout winter.



Larix decidua or European larch