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Western Larch Larix occidentalis


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Family: Pinaceae, Pine view all from this family

Description Large deciduous tree. Crown narrow, conic. Branches level to upswept, side branches often drooping. Shoots dimorphic, growth divided into long shoots 10-50 cm. long bearing several buds, and short shoots only 1-2 mm. long with single bud. Needles light green, 2-5 cm. long, slender; bright yellow in the fall, leaving the pale orange-brown shoots bare until the next spring. Cones red, turning brown, ovoid-cylindric, 2-5 cm. long, 40-80 seed scales; each bearing 4-8 mm. bract. Scales open flat or reflexed to release seeds. Old cones remain on the tree for many years, turning dull gray-black.

Dimensions Height: 24-46 m. (80-150 ft.)
Diameter: 0.5-0.9 m, (1 1/2-3 ft.) sometimes larger.

Habitat Canyons & valleys, Mountains.

Range Western Canada, Southwest, Rocky Mountains, Northwest.

Discussion Seeds important for some birds, notably Pine Siskin, Common Redpoll and White-winged Crossbill. Plateau Indian tribes drank an infusion from the young shoots to treat tuberculosis and laryngitis.
Particularly valued for yacht building; wood must be free of knots, and can only be obtained from old trees that were pruned when young to remove side branches. Small larch poles are widely used for rustic fencing.