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Larch

Larch


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Genus larix


The genus Larix, to which the larch of our Alpine valleys belongs, has about fifteen species of conifers, widespread in the northern hemisphere, both in Europe and Asia, and in North America; these conifers are medium in size and have a good spread in Italy, in the wild; in most of northern Europe the larches are cultivated, due to the speed of development and the excellent quality of their wood; in many of the large coniferous forests spread in the cold areas of the globe the larches are present in large numbers, often in majority compared to other conifers. They are very elegant trees, with long needles, gathered in small bunches, light green; the larches are deciduous plants, and in autumn all their needles become of a fabulous orange color, painting the alpine valleys, to then fall, leaving the bare trees throughout the winter. The larches produce male and female flowers on the same plant, the female flowers are particularly noticeable because in most species they have large bracts, which in the larix decidua (the one present in Italy) are often pink or bright pink. After pollination the female flowers give rise to small pine cones, which can remain on the plant for some years. Generally the species available in the nursery are hybrids of several species, often crossed with the larch Japanese, this because only some species of larch they are resistant to larch cancer, a fairly widespread and serious disease, which leads large trees to early death. They are trees that can reach 20-30 m in height, so if we love the larches it is good to equip our house with a large land in which to plant them, they cannot find a place in a small garden; moreover they are trees with decidedly alpine needs, so in our city garden we will probably only be able to cultivate a small bonsai larch.

Larch


It is one of the most appreciated ancient trees, due to its shape and its uses. It is found in the high mountains, together with fir, birch and chestnut. Particularly appreciated for its timber, it also helps to strengthen the soil. We are talking about larch, a tree of considerable size and, unlike others, with deciduous leaves. For this characteristic, the tree is also called "deciduous" or "deciduous larch". A species is called "decidua" when it loses its leaves in autumn.





















































First name
common name Larch, botanical name Larix decidua
Family Pinaceae
Gender conifers
Type of plant and growth habit Deciduous or deciduous tree plant
Exposure Illuminated and in direct sunlight
Ground Slightly acidic, loose, fertile and well drained
Morphology Tall trunk from thirty to forty meters, pyramidal crown and little thick horizontal branches
leaves Green needle-like leaves tending to red and yellow after the vegetative period
Flowers Oval and elongated female inflorescences of red color and small male inflorescences of yellow color
Flowering In spring, between March and May
fruits pinecones
Cultivation Easy
Propagation Seed

Characteristics of the Larch



The larch, scientific name larix or "larix decidua" is a tree belonging to the genus of conifers and to the family of pinaceae. For some characteristics, the same tree is similar to birch (habitat) and chestnut (trunk wood). In reality, larch is a unique and unmistakable tree. Native to northern Europe, the larch populates the alpine and subalpine areas, but also vast grazing lands used for wooded areas. In the alpine areas, the tree gives life to the so-called larch trees, that is, to vast forests composed of trees of the same species, while further downstream, the larch leaves room for the appearance of the fir trees, becoming slightly more sparse. This different diffusion depends on the habitats in which the tree develops. In the alpine areas, where the larch receives greater solar irradiation, the development is faster, while downstream, due to the shadow, the growth becomes slower favoring the appearance of other types of trees.

Grow larch


Larch trees are large trees that grow in Italy in alpine areas, characterized by cool summers and very cold winters, with persistent frosts; they are plants adapted to live in extreme climatic conditions, which can hardly be grown in the lowland garden, not even in northern Italy, where summers are still excessively hot for these plants. In the mountains they develop in open and sunny places, with a clayey and compact soil. They develop a large taproot radical apparatus, which develops in depth, it is therefore good to cultivate them in areas with very deep and compact soils.
Larch trees that have recently settled down need good humidity, especially in summer, or they will hardly take root; given that their root system develops very deeply, it is good to water a young larch by wetting the soil thoroughly, so that the plant is invited to push its roots into the ground, rather than to widen its root system in width; a tree like the larch must have a very deep root system, or it cannot survive the cold alpine winters.
The adult specimens now dwelling for years are well resistant to cold and drought, and can remain without water for weeks.
In nature these plants grow in the undergrowth, with a high humidity for most of the time, and little direct insolation; if we decide to sow a larch, to prepare a bonsai, it will be good to keep the seedbed constantly moist, and in a shady position.

A larch in the garden



If we love the larches in a special way and we intend to cultivate one, our choice will go to a plant very similar to the larch, of Asian origin, the pseudolarix amabilis, it is a deciduous conifer, widespread in China and Japan, belonging to a genus very similar to that of larch; it has very slow growth, and hardly exceeds 20 meters in height if grown in the garden; this conifer does not fear the heat and the drought as the larch, represents therefore a good compromise for the garden in the lowland.
The general appearance is always that of a majestic tree, with soft and non-sharp needles, gathered in bunches, which become golden in autumn, before falling; only that the leaves of this tree seem arched and are slightly shorter than those of the European larch.

The larch in herbal medicine


The Larches of all species are cultivated to use wood, in particular in construction and to produce furniture or musical instruments.
In addition to this use the larch wood and needles contain oils used to produce paints.
The essential oils of larch and the active ingredients contained in them are also used in herbal medicine for their antiseptic power. With the larch, products are prepared for topical use and also for systemic use, against urinary and respiratory tract infections.
Larch is also included among the seven main Bach flowers, used for those who have little self-confidence.

Morphology of the Larch



The larch has a straight trunk and diffused horizontal branches. The tree can also reach the remarkable height of forty meters. Its leaves are needle-shaped, about four centimeters long and gathered in strips of forty needles. The latter, during the passage from spring to autumn, take on a reddish-yellow color that creates pleasant chromatic suggestions. The crown of the larch is not very thick and pyramidal. The tree is very long-lived and in suitable environments it can reach even a thousand years of life. The long duration of the tree depends on the climate, the more this is cold and bright, the more the species becomes long-lived. In other environments, instead, the larch can live less, with specimens that sometimes reach eighty, sometimes the one hundred and fifty, up to a maximum of four hundred years. The trunk of the larch is dark gray in the young specimens, then cracked and reddish in the older ones.

Larch flowering


The larch flowers appear before the leaves, generally between March and May. The female inflorescences are oval, elongated and red in color, while the masculine inflorescences are small, short, yellow in color and aesthetically unimportant. From the mature flowers, in summer, small pine cones develop, the fruits of the larch, which will ripen during the autumn. These fruits, two to four centimeters large, contain small winged seeds.

Larch wood



Larch is known and appreciated above all for its wood. The latter is considered as one of the finest and best quality. Solid, resistant, compact and fragrant, larch wood was formerly used to build mountain huts. Due to its solidity, larch wood also has a useful environmental function, helping to strengthen soil solidity and avoid the risk of landslides. The larch wood has a reddish heartwood, a yellow albumen and clearly visible growth rings. The volumetric mass of the larch wood is 6.6 quintals per cubic meter. From a larch wood of one hectare, about 500 cubic meters of timber can be obtained. Due to its value and its usefulness, larch wood has been used to build houses, stables, barns and to create soil protection structures and avalanche barriers. Today, larch wood is used for the construction of windows, fixtures, coatings, furniture and poles. From this material is also obtained a resin used for its medicinal properties.

Larch variety


The quality of larch wood also depends on the variety of tree from which it is derived. In nature there are three main varieties of larch from which the wood is obtained: European larch, Siberian larch and dahurica larch. The European larch (European larix) extends discontinuously from the Alps to the Urals, the Siberian larch (larix sibirica) extends to the easternmost area, towards Siberia, precisely where the larch or larix dahurica is also present. The botanical characteristics of the different varieties of larch are practically identical, with some slight differences in the quality of the wood. The best, in this sense, seems to be the Siberian larch. This tree, living in particularly cold areas, develops a more resistant bark and with small and well-defined growth rings. The quality of larch wood can be recognized precisely by the size of the rings: the smaller they are, the higher the quality of the wood. The varieties of larch are very numerous, about fifteen. Some are native to Asia, others from North America.




























Exposure and temperature


The larch needs very sunny and direct sun exposure. The shadow, in fact, not only slows down the growth, but also causes the early fall of the branches and leaves. The ideal temperature for the larch can also be quite cold. The plant, in fact, being a typical species of the alpine areas, is able to resist the rigors of winter, wind and frost. Strangely, larch seems to withstand even high temperatures.

Ground


Larch is a tree that can adapt to any type of soil and substrate. To favor the development of young specimens just transplanted, we recommend instead a slightly acidic, loose, fertile and well-drained soil. To increase the acidity of the soil, a little peat can be placed at the foot of the plant.

Irrigation


Larch does not need irrigation. Its roots and its foliage can, in fact, deftly exploit the water supplied by the rains. Watering is necessary only occasionally for young specimens and in the case of particularly dry and dry summers.

Fertilization and pruning



The larch should be fertilized only during the planting phase. The planting of the plant usually takes place in spring. On this occasion, mature manure is placed at the foot of the trunk. Manure fertilization can be done annually, in spring, to make the soil more fertile. If this is already fertile and loose, intervention is not necessary. Larch is a tree that does not need pruning. This has often been practiced on the occasion of indiscriminate deforestation operations. The indiscriminate cuts tend, however, to decapitate the trees by depriving them of the crown. These cuts are not only useless but tend to weaken the plant and the soil it supports. Pruning may be necessary for the larches of the mountain valleys. In these environments, mature trees, receiving little light, tend to naturally lose their branches. Consistently cut all the branches that create shade, instead, it allows to spread a greater brightness that favors the appearance of new larches.

Pests and diseases


In case of too hot climate and excessive humidity, the larch can be attacked by fungi. Unfortunately, fungal diseases tend to spread over the whole plant and to the neighboring ones. In the event of a full-blown pathology, it is advisable to eradicate the infected tree immediately. The larch can also be attacked by aphids or lice of the larch. These insects are similar to cedar aphids and develop in particularly hot and dry climates. Sometimes, the high mountain larch can be hit by another parasite, the Zeiraphera diniana, which causes the almost complete defoliation of the foliage. However, the tree can withstand the attack and recover in a short time.

Propagation


The larch only propagates by seed. The spread of the plant takes place thanks to the seeds carried by the wind. After the fruit has ripened, the same seeds can be buried in a jar filled with peat and sand in equal parts. The sowing takes place in spring, while the transplantation of the seedlings in another pot is carried out in autumn, better in November. This transplant usually takes place in the autumn following sowing, or, in case of too hot climate, after two years from sowing and always in autumn. The planting (full-field) of adult trees takes place many years after growing in pots. If you want to have larches already grown, it is better to resort to transplanting existing plants and not sowing.

History, art and symbolism



The name of the larch derives from the Latin lares, which in ancient times referred to the genes that protected the home and marriage. Like marriage, larch is green in spring and golden yellow with maturity. This change in color was often associated with the golden wedding, which is celebrated after 50 years of marriage. Larch has always been considered the symbol of strength and elegance. The wood of the tree, resistant to any kind of rot, in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance was also used by the Venetians to build the foundations of palaces, ships and churches. In the literary descriptions, the branches of the larch, which with the spring sun give off intense flashes of light, are identified precisely with the rays of the sun.

Property


Larch is a resinous tree. From its trunk, in fact, a resin used as a cicatrizant and antiseptic is extracted for both humans and livestock. The same resin is obtained by drilling holes in the stem or collecting it from the cut plants. The therapeutic uses of resin come from folk medicine. Occasionally, larch resin was used to make healing skin ointments. It also seems that the balm extracted from the drilling of the trunks has beneficial effects for skin boils, respiratory diseases and rheumatism. However, plant-based therapies are only prescribed by experienced doctors.



Comments:

  1. Tokinos

    And what would we do without your brilliant phrase

  2. Ancaeus

    Cool You could say it blew my brain!

  3. Denney

    Thank you for the current information !!!

  4. Daudy

    Funny state of affairs



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Main varieties sheet
HeightspreadWood type
European Larix25-45 mCentral Europe - AlpsBig rings
Larix sibirica20-50 mEast of RussiaSmall rings
Larix dahurica10-30 mEast Siberia, northeast China and Mongolia, North KoreaSmall rings