The Hybrid Larch is a conifer which first grew in Scotland when two different parent trees, the Japanese Larch and the European Larch, were crossed. The resulting hybrid is a natural tree of the mountains with a straight, tapering conical trunk. Long lower branches spread with a downward tendency with the tips turning up again.
It grows up to 40 m or more.
The bark is grey / brown with regular fissures
Light green needles grow in bundles on short shoots. The Larch is the only “deciduous” conifer in Britain and so loses leaves over winter. The needles turn orange then brown before dropping. People are often mistaken in thinking the Larch is dead in winter.
Flowers and seeds
Reddish purple female flowers ripen to form many rounded cones with rounded scales.
Where and how does the Larch grow?
The parent trees are naturally found in Japan and central Europe. The hybrid offspring can be nearly Japanese type or nearly European type but will grow faster, are hardier and more resistant than either parent. These exceptional characteristics are given the general term “hybrid vigour”. Deep, moist, alkaline and well-drained soils are best for growth and the Larch enjoys mountain settings. The unusual delicate shape and excellent colours throughout the year make the Larch a great tree for landscape purposes. It is often planted as a visual contrast, adding appeal and relief to the eye, especially in coniferous forest landscapes.
Wildlife around the Larch
A light shade is cast by the Larch providing good cover for larger birds and animals sheltering from the elements, such as the Capercaille and deer.
Birds of prey that nest in Larch include the Sparrowhawk and Goshawk. Seed and bud lovers include the Crossbill and Tree Creeper. In Scotland Wrynecks, Crested Tits, Redwings and Fieldfares particularly enjoy the Larch.
Larch has a fairly high timber value. The wood is very durable and can cope with constant change from wet to dry. The timber is a reddish colour that stains, works and finishes well.
Larch wood today
Is used in construction, for posts, boat building, chipboard and garden furniture.
The bark is used for tanning leather and turpentine is a by product.
Old uses - There is no traditional use as this Larch was only created in late 1800’s Before 1629 the parents were grown as ornamental and exotic garden trees.