©BSNHS 2014

A naturalized tree introduced into the British Isles about 1630.

Although classed as a conifer it is one of a few deciduous evergreens that sheds its foliage in the autumn.

A pioneer species with vigorous growth, developing into a tall narrowly conical tree  if grown in the open but often observed in plantations where it is mainly grown for timber production.

Foliage emerges in March, at first bright green darkening during summer turning bright yellow by the end of October with some trees still displaying good autumn colour into December.

Male flowers are small yellow cones releasing pollen in the spring; female flowers are red in spring maturing into the familiar brown woody cones often persisting on the tree up to ten years even after releasing winged wind dispersed seed. Seeds are a favourite of the well adapted crossbill (Loxia curvirostra) using its crossed bill to prise them from cones on twigs.

Bark is reddish brown, deeply fissured in mature trees.

About fifty species of phytophagous insects and mites have been recorded on Larch trees.

One notable disease is Phytophtora ramorum which infects and kills Common Larch and Larch species, a fungus like pathogen causing major devastation in plantations.

Male and female flowers with new emergent foliage

December Tree of the Month - Common Larch Larix decidua   (Pinaceae)