Siberian Larch – Larix sibirica

Siberian Larch – Larix sibirica
Family Pinaceae: Pine, Cedar, Spruce, Fir
Native to Siberia, this lovely conifer is also commonly called Russian larch.
Siberian larch foliage
Native to Siberia from the Urals east to far eastern Irkutsk, Siberian larch is a deciduous, coniferous tree growing to 90 ft. with a trunk diameter of  45 inches.  The crown is conic when young, becoming broad with age; the main branches are level to upswept, with the side branches often pendulous. The shoots are dimorphic, with growth divided into long shoots (typically 10-50 cm long) and bearing several buds, and short shoots only 1-2 mm long with only a single bud. It is most easily distinguished from the closely related European Larch by the shoots being downy (hairless in European Larch). The leaves are needle-like, light green, 2-4 cm long, and turn bright yellow before they fall in the autumn, leaving the pale yellow-buff shoots bare until the next spring.

Siberian Larch - Larix sibirica
Siberian larch, from seed, is 15 years old [2]

The male and female cones are borne separately on the same tree; pollination is in early spring. The male cones are solitary, yellow, globose to oblong, 4-8 mm diameter, and produce wingless pollen. The mature female cones are erect, ovoid-conic, 2-4 cm long, with 30-70 erect or slightly incurved (not reflexed) and downy seed scales; they are green variably flushed red when immature, turning brown and opening to release the winged seeds when mature, 4-6 months after pollination. The old cones commonly remain on the tree for many years, turning dull grey-black. The minimum seed-bearing age is 10-15 years.

Because of its rot resistance, larch wood is especially valuable for posts, poles, railroad ties, and mine timbers. It is also used in many velodrome tracks, including the Manchester Velodrome and the Velodrome Krylatskoye in Moscow.  [1]

Siberian larch foliage
Leaves 2.5-5cm in length, slender, sharp-pointed [2]

1. The Gymnosperm Database, Larix sibirica
2. Siberian Larch – Larix sibirica, Morton Arboretum accession 215-93*6  photos by Bruce Marlin
3. NATIONAL AUDUBON SOCIETY, National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees
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