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TREES & Plants

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. This tree has a highest degree of salt tolerance and can therefore be used in the most exposed areas, such as along streets in regions with winter snow and ice.

Botanical name: 
Larix decidua
All Common Names: 
European Larch, Common Larch
Family (English): 
Pine
Family (Botanic): 
Pinaceae
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Tree
Foliage: 
  • Deciduous (foliage falls off)
Native Locale: 
  • Non-native
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 3
  • Zone 4
  • Zone 5
  • Zone 6
Growth Rate: 
  • Medium
  • Fast
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
Tolerances: 
  • Wet sites
  • Occasional flooding
  • Road salt
Soil Preference: 
  • Moist, well-drained soil
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Pink
Size Range: 
  • Large tree (more than 40 feet)
Shape or Form: 
  • Irregular
  • Pyramidal
Landscape Uses: 
  • Windbreak
  • Specimen
  • Massing
Time of Year: 
  • Early spring
  • Mid fall
More Information: 

European larch (Larix decidua)European larch (Larix decidua)photo: John Hagstrom
Size & Form

70 to 75 feet high and 25 to 30 feet wide.
Open, pyramidal in youth with horizontal branching ; irregular as it matures.

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.

Attracts birds & butterflies

Seed-eating birds such as nuthatches, finches, chickadees, grosbeaks, and crossbills are attracted to the tree for shelter, nesting, and its cones.

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 are counded with few scales and persist throughout winter.