Larix laricina

Botanical Name : Larix laricina
Family: Pinaceae
Genus: Larix
Species: L. laricina
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pinophyta
Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinales

Synonyms:Larix americana.

Common Name :Tamarack,  Hackmatack eastern larch, Black larch, Red larch, or American larch

Habitat:  Larix laricina is native to Northern N. America – Alaska to Labrador, south to West Virginia. It  often forms pure forests in the south of its range in swamps and wet soils sometimes also on dry plateau or slopes in the north of its range.

Description:
Larix laricina is a small to medium-size deciduous coniferous tree reaching 10–20 metres (33–66 ft) tall, with a trunk up to 60 centimetres (24 in) diameter.The tamarack is not an evergreen. The bark is tight and flaky, pink, but under flaking bark it can appear reddish. The leaves are needle-like, 2–3 cm (0.8–1.2 in) short, light blue-green, turning bright yellow before they fall in the autumn, leaving the pale pinkish-brown shoots bare until the next spring. The needles are produced spirally on long shoots and in dense clusters on long woody spur shoots. The cones are the smallest of any larch, only 1–2.3 cm (0.4–0.9 in) long, with 12-25 seed scales; they are bright red, turning brown and opening to release the seeds when mature, 4–6 months after pollination.

Flowering and fruiting:
Tamarack is monoecious. Male and female flowers are small, solitary, and appear with the needles. Male flowers are yellow and are borne mainly on 1- or 2-year-old branchlets. Female flowers are reddish and are borne most commonly on 2- to 4-year-old branchlets but may also appear on branchlets 5 or more years old. Cones usually are produced on young growth of vigorous trees. On open-grown trees, cones are borne on all parts of the crown. Ripe cones are brown, oblong-ovoid, and 13 to 19 mm (½ to ¾ in) long.

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Key characteristics:

*The needles are normally borne on a short shoot in groups of 10–20 needles.
*The Larch is deciduous and the needles turn yellow in autumn.
*The seed cones are small, less than 2 cm (0.8 in) long, with lustrous brown scales.
*Larch are commonly found in swamps, bogs, and other low-land areas.

 

Cultivation:  
Prefers an open airy position in a light or gravelly well-drained soil. Plants are intolerant of shade. Tolerates acid and infertile soils and waterlogged soils. Succeeds on rocky hill or mountain sides and slopes. A north or east aspect is more suitable than west or south. This species is very cold-hardy when fully dormant, but the trees can be excited into premature growth in Britain by mild spells during the winter and they are then very subject to damage by late frosts and cold winds. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. Planted for forestry in Europe, they are not suitable for this purpose in Britain. Growth is normally slow in this country with average height increases of less than 30cm per year. The trees are generally not long-lived. Planting them in boggy soil may improve growth rates. Open ground plants, 1 year x 1 year are the best for planting out, do not use container grown plants with spiralled roots. Plants transplant well, even when coming into growth in the spring. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus.

Propagation :    
Seed – sow late winter in pots in a cold frame. One months cold stratification helps germination. It is best to give the seedlings light shade for the first year[78]. As soon as they are large enough to handle, prick out the seedlings into individual pots. Although only a few centimetres tall, they can be planted out into their permanent positions in the summer providing you give them an effective weed-excluding mulch and preferably some winter protection for their first year. Otherwise grow them on in the cold frame for their first winter and plant them out in early summer of the following year. The seed remains viable for 3 years If you are growing larger quantities of plants, you can sow the seed in an outdoor seedbed in late winter. Grow on the seedlings in the seedbed for a couple of years until they are ready to go into their permanent positions then plant them out during the winter.

 

Edible Uses  :     
Edible Parts: Leaves.
Edible Uses: Tea.

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The young shoots are used as an emergency food. A tea is made from the roots. A tea is made from the branches and needles.

Medicinal Uses:

Alterative;  Astringent;  Disinfectant;  Diuretic;  Expectorant;  Laxative;  Poultice;  Salve;  Tonic.

Tamarack was employed medicinally by a number of native North American Indian tribes who used it to treat a variety of complaints. It is little used in modern herbalism. A tea made from the bark is alterative, diuretic, laxative and tonic. It is used in the treatment of jaundice, anaemia, rheumatism, colds and skin ailments. It is gargled in the treatment of sore throats and applied as a poultice to sores, swellings and burns. A tea made from the leaves is astringent. It is used in the treatment of piles, diarrhoea etc. An infusion of the buds and bark is used as an expectorant. The needles and inner bark are disinfectant and laxative. A tea is used in the treatment of coughs. A poultice made from the warm, boiled inner bark is applied to wounds to draw out infections, to burns, frostbite and deep cuts. The resin is chewed as a cure for indigestion. It has also been used in the treatment of kidney and lung disorders, and as a dressing for ulcers and burns.

Other Uses :
Disinfectant;  Fibre;  Resin;  Tannin;  Wood.

Resin is extracted by tapping the trunk. It is obtained from near the centre of the trunk, one properly made borehole can be used for 20 – 30 years. The resin has a wide range of uses including wood preservatives, medicinal etc. The hole is made in the spring and the resin extracted in the autumn. The roots have been used as a sewing material in canoes and to make durable bags. The bark contains tannin. Wood – very strong, heavy, hard, durable even in water. It weighs 39lb per cubic foot and is used for telegraph poles, fence posts etc. The roots are often curved by as much as 90° and are used by builders of small ships.

The wood is tough and durable, but also flexible in thin strips, and was used by the Algonquian people for making snowshoes and other products where toughness was required. The natural crooks located in the stumps and roots are also preferred for creating knees in wooden boats. Tamarack poles were used in corduroy roads because of their resistance to rot. Currently, the wood is used principally for pulpwood, but also for posts, poles, rough lumber, and fuelwood. Wildlife use the tree for food and nesting.

Guitar luthier Mark Blanchard has named one of his models the tamarack.
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It is also grown as an ornamental tree in gardens in cold regions, and is a favorite tree for bonsai. Tamarack Trees were used before 1917 in Alberta to mark the North East Corner of Sections surveyed within Townships. They were used by the surveyors because at that time the very rot resistant wood was readily available in the bush and was light to carry.

According to ‘Aboriginal Plant Use in Canada’s Northwest Boreal Forest’, the inner bark has also been used as a poultice to treat cuts, infected wounds, frostbite, boils and hemorrhoids. The outer bark and roots are also said to have been used with another plant as a treatment for arthritis, cold and general aches and pains.

Tamarack is the Territorial tree of Northwest Territories. It is mentioned in the Ernest Hemingway short story ‘The Battler’ from In Our Time. A proposed national wildlife refuge has been given the name Hackmatack in honor of an alternate Algonquin name of the species.

Known Hazards : Sawdust from the wood has been known to cause dermatitis in some people.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larix_laricina
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Larix+laricina

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