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TREES & plants

Japanese larch

Branch of Japanese larch laden with cones.

Japanese larch is a sun-loving, deciduous conifer native to Japan. The 70-foot-high pyramidal tree has slender, pendulous branches, and clusters of bright green needles that turn a golden yellow in the fall before dropping.

Botanical name: 
Larix kaempferi
All Common Names: 
Japanese larch
Family (English): 
Pine
Family (Botanic): 
Pinaceae
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Tree
Foliage: 
  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
Native Locale: 
  • Non-native
Planting Site: 
  • Residential and parks, 
  • City parkway, 
  • Wide median
Landscape Uses: 
  • Specimen, 
  • Shade tree, 
  • Parkway/street
Size Range: 
  • Large tree (more than 40 feet)
Mature Height: 
70-90 feet
Mature Width: 
25-40 feet
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 4, 
  • Zone 5 (Chicago), 
  • Zone 6, 
  • Zone 7
Soil Preference: 
  • Moist, well-drained soil
Acid Soils: 
  • Tolerant
Alkaline Soils: 
  • Moderately Tolerant
Salt Spray: 
  • Tolerant
Soil Salt: 
  • Tolerant
Drought Conditions: 
  • Intolerant
Poor Drainage: 
  • Tolerant
Planting Considerations: 
  • Intolerant of pollution, 
  • May be difficult to find in nurseries
Ornamental Interest: 
  • Fall color, 
  • Showy fruit
Season of Interest: 
  • Mid spring, 
  • Late spring, 
  • Early summer, 
  • Mid summer, 
  • Late summer, 
  • Early fall, 
  • Mid fall
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Inconspicuous
Shape or Form: 
  • Pyramidal
Growth Rate: 
  • Fast
Transplants Well: 
  • Yes
Wildlife: 
  • Insect-eating birds, 
  • Moths, 
  • Seed-eating birds
More Information: 

Tree & Plant Care

Best in sunny site with moist soil. Intolerant of shade, drought and air pollution.

Disease, pests, and problems

Larch case-bearer, gypsy moth and woolly aphids are potential problems.

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to Japan.

Bark color and texture 

Mature bark is a scaly, reddish brown.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Clusters 40 needles on short spurs.  Needles dark green above with 2 white bands on lower side.
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, 1 to 1 1/2  inch stalked cones persisting throughout winter.

 

 

Larix kaempferi or Japanese larch