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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.

This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.


Botanical name:

Larix kaempferi

All common names:

Japanese larch

Family (English):


Family (Botanic):


Planting Site:

  • Residential and parks,
  • City parkway,
  • Wide median

Tree or Plant Type:

  • Tree


  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)

Native Locale:

  • Non-native

Landscape Uses:

  • Parkway/street,
  • Shade tree,
  • Specimen

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


  • Road salt

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

Seasons of Interest:

  • mid spring,
  • late spring,
  • early summer,
  • midsummer,
  • late summer,
  • early fall,
  • mid fall

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • Inconspicuous

Shape or Form:

  • Pyramidal

Growth Rate:

  • Fast

Transplants Well:

  • Yes


  • 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.

Cultivars and their differences

Diana Japanese larch (Larix kaempferi 'Diana'):  This cultivar has a pyramidal habit and contorted new growth; grows 45 feet tall and 20 feet wide.



Location of Larix kaempferi (Japanese larch) at the Arboretum