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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 high 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
Native Locale: 
  • Non-native
Planting Site: 
  • Residential and parks
Landscape Uses: 
  • Windbreak
  • Specimen
  • 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
  • Zone 6
Acid Soils: 
  • Tolerant
Alkaline Soils: 
  • Moderately Tolerant
Salt Spray: 
  • Tolerant
Soil Salt: 
  • Intolerant
Drought Conditions: 
  • Intolerant
Poor Drainage: 
  • Intolerant
Planting Considerations: 
  • Intolerant of pollution
Foliage: 
  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
Ornamental Interest: 
  • Spring blossoms
  • Fall color
  • Showy fruit
Season of Interest: 
  • Early spring
  • Mid fall
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Pink
Shape or Form: 
  • Irregular
  • Pyramidal
Growth Rate: 
  • Moderate
  • Fast
Transplants Well: 
  • Yes
Wildlife: 
  • Insect-eating birds
  • Moths
  • Seed-eating birds
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.