Saturday, October 16, 2010

Larix...Not to Be Confused with Dr. Seuss's Lorax

According to the highly respected Encyclopedia Britannica (you remember what an encyclopedia is...don't you?) the larch is any of 10 to 12 species of coniferous trees of the genus Larix. One species is found only in the Himalayas.  Another is known to grow in Siberia.  It is a plant that, like a monk, seems to need and want the simplest of life styles.  The most widely distributed North American species is the tamarack, hackmatack or eastern larch.  But the Pacific northwest is home to the western larch L. occidentalis which I think was the one I saw planting it roots so firmly in the harsh mountain limestone just at timberline in the Canadian Rockies.  See the golden sprays that look like aspen, and glow in the gentle sun above the evergreens in the photo below?  They cling to the mountain rim with such tenacious life and delicate beauty.

This tree is so unusual because it looks like a conifer and has needles and cones like a conifer, but changes color in the fall and drops its needles like a deciduous tree.  It also is unusual in that the needles are soft as kittens' whiskers when you touch them.  If you want to see this fantastic tree, you must pay your penance by hiking up the mountain past mud, grizzlies and snow into the thin and biting mountain air.  Since you may not want to do that, I will post a few of the beautiful rewarding trees I saw on my hike in their bronze fall glory.

It is no surprise that they inspire poetry from great poets.

Though the season's begun to speak
Its long sentences of darkness,
The upswept boughs of the larch
Bristle with gold for a week,
And then there is only the willow
To make bright interjection,
Its drooping branches decked
With thin leaves, curved and yellow,
Till winter, loosening these
With a first flurry and bluster,
Shall scatter across the snow-crust
Their dropped parentheses.
by Richard Wilber


  1. wow. thoe golden trees are gorgeous...what a great shot of the mountains as well...trimmed in snow...ahh...what beauty...

  2. Just stunningly exquisite. You remind me with these images to visit you here more often. Thank you.

  3. I never heard of a larch before - thanks for the pictures, and for hiking up there to take them, so we didn't have to.

  4. Wow! So gorgeous! I had no idea. I have hiked up mountains and have never seen this tree. I must go and explore some more!!
    Thanks for the lovely photos!

  5. The first thought that came to my mind when I saw the beautiful tree photo was "mouthwatering." Then again, maybe it is breakfast time. :)

  6. we have larches here in the marches (no rhyme intended). when you walk through the dropped leaves (needles) you truly walk on a golden carpet.

  7. Gorgeous photos! We had tamaracks on our property in northern Vermont. The cones were a delicate pink. I'd never seen one before we settled there.

  8. Beautiful trees and your images are breathtaking. These trees are new to me. Thanks again for all I learn from you :)

  9. So lovely. "Dropped parentheses:" perfect.

  10. so incredible.
    thank you for sharing this.


Glad to hear from you once again. I really like these visits. Come sit on this log and tell me what you are thinking.