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.



Location of Larix decidua (European larch) at the Arboretum