|Western Larch by Highway 35|
Now, you may wonder, why do larches drop their needles in the fall? Other conifers growing nearby seem to survive the winter cold just fine with their needles intact. These conifers have adapted to the cold by moving water out of the cells in the needles, leaving a concentrate that acts like antifreeze, or by purifying the water in the cells so ice crystals can’t form even at temperatures well below freezing. The larches have adapted a completely different strategy. They just drop their needles in the fall and grow new ones in the spring. This enables larches to survive some of the coldest temperatures of any of the conifers, growing high in the mountains and in the northern latitudes of North America and Siberia.
|Western larch needles|
Alpine larch (Larix lyallii) grows at elevations higher than Western Larch, near the timberline in the North Cascades in Washington. It also grows in the Rocky Mountains of Idaho, Montana, and Canada.
Western larch is an important timber tree. The wood is nearly as strong as Douglas fir and is used for framing and finishing. Western larch is also a popular firewood in the Northwest. It is often called “tamarack” by wood cutters, a common name for the other North American larch (Larix laricna), which grows in the northeast United States, across Canada, and in central Alaska.
|Japanese larch at Hoyt Arboretum|
Fall Conifer Colors
How Do Conifers Survive the Cold?
Western Larch at Northwest Conifers
We have a weird conifer out the living room window in the little park next to us. I'll get out there and take photos this week before it turns brown as it does in the winter. Funny though, it never loses its foliage like other Larch I have seen.ReplyDelete
Does it look like a bald cypress rather than a larch. If so it could be Montezuma bald cypress (Taxodium mucronatum). It's native to Mexico and is sometimes described as being "nearly evergreen" or "partly deciduous."Delete
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Helpful web site with great pictures and explanations!
I'm currently living in SW Oregon outside of Ashland, and there is at least one Larix occidentalis adjacent to he highway that passes Lake of the Woods, east of Ashland off of Dead Indian Memorial Road.
It was amusing to have told my wife that in Oregon they only grow east of the Cascades, but I should have known there would be at least one exception. I'll stop and take a picture next time I'm in that area. If nothing else, I need to have proof for myself that it's really there!
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Thanks! Interesting. Being so far away from its range, I'd guess it was planted there.ReplyDelete