Other common names
Common larch; Gemeine larche (German); Meleze d'Europe (French).
Origin of the species name
Larix is Latin for larch; decidua is Latin referring to all species of larch being deciduous
Trees of this species can be very long lived. Several of the larger specimens in Germany are thought to date back to the 18th century.
This is a medium to large, deciduous, coniferous tree with a crown that is conic when young but becomes broader with age. The leaves are needle-like, light green, 2–4 cm long which turn bright yellow before they fall in the autumn. The mature seed cones are only 3-4 cm long, oblong in shape and are erect on the branches. Height 25m Spread 15m.
Natural distribution and habitat
The species is native to the mountains of central Europe, with disjunct lowland populations in northern Poland and southern Lithuania. At high elevations it occurs in conifer forests and is occasionally found in pure stands. At its lowest elevations it may be found with deciduous forest. It only grows on well-drained soils.
It is not classified as a threatened species.
Planted in curved rows.
The wood is tough and durable and was widely used for railway sleepers. It is also flexible in thin strips, and is particularly valued for boat building. Small larch poles are widely used for rustic fencing. Trees with a curved base were used to make the traditional 'alphorns'. The European larch is also a popular species used for bonsai.
Farjon, A (2010) A Handbook of the World's Conifers. Brill.