tamarack

(Larix laricina)

Conservation Status
tamarack
  IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern

     
  NatureServe

N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
Wetland Indicator Status
     
  Great Plains

FACW - Facultative wetland

     
  Midwest

FACW - Facultative wetland

     
  Northcentral & Northeast

FACW - Facultative wetland

     
           
 
Description
 
 

Tamarack is the only deciduous conifer native to Minnesota. It is fast-growing and short-lived, usually no more than 150 years old. It rises on a single trunk from shallow, spreading roots. In Minnesota mature trees are usually 40 to 70 tall and 14 to 20 in diameter at breast height. Large individuals can be 100 to 115 tall, 36 to 42 in diameter, and 230 to 240 years old.

The crown on young trees is narrow, cone-shaped, and open. On older trees the crown becomes irregular.

The trunk is slender and straight and extends to the top of the tree.

The bark on young trees is smooth and gray. On mature trees the bark is rough, reddish-brown, thin, and flaky, with small scales.

There are 2 types of branches. Branches of the current year are long and have scattered, single leaves. Branches of prior years develop lateral, dwarf, secondary branches. These secondary branches are slow-growing and produce crowded clusters of many leaves. Principal branches are horizontal or sometimes slightly ascending.

The twigs are orangish-brown and hairless.

The buds are dark red, hairless, and subtended by a ring of hair-like bracts.

The needle-like leaves are soft, pointed, slender, ¾ to 1½ long, and deciduous. They are flat on top and keeled below, 3-sided in cross section. They are bright green in the spring, bluish green in the summer, and turn dull yellow and fall off in September or October. They are borne in a tight spiral of 12 to 30 needles on a short, wart-like, spur branch. On terminal shoots they also appear singly. In winter tamarack can be identified by the distinctive spur branches.

Male and female cones are borne on the same tree. Pollen (male) cones are spherical and yellow. They are borne singly on 1- or 2-year-old branchlets. Female cones at the time of pollination are almost spherical and red. They are borne singly, mostly on 2- or 4-year-old branchlets, but also on 5- to 10-year-old or older branchlets. On young trees they appear on 1-year-old branchlets. They appear in all parts of the crown. Pollination takes place in late April or early May. Male cones shed pollen then wither and fall away.

Female seed cones mature mid-August to September. Mature seed cones are light brown, woody, egg-shaped, symmetrical, and to ¾ long. They are on short, stout, curved stalks. They are covered with 10 to 30, but usually 12 to 15, scales. Mature scales are smooth and rounded at the tip.

There are 2 seeds in each fertile scale. The seeds are 1 16 to 3 32 long, with a to ¼ long, chestnut-brown wing. Most seeds are shed in the first 3 weeks of September, with the remainder being shed by the end of October.

 
     
 

Height

 
 

40 to 70

 
     
 

Record

 
 

There is no current (2021) champion tamarack in Minnesota.

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
 

The clusters of 12 to 30 needles on short, wart-like, spur branches, and the needles that turn yellow and fall off in the fall, distinguish larches (Larix spp.) from all other needle-bearing trees in Minnesota.

European larch (Larix decidua) is a larger, sometimes much larger tree. The twigs are pale yellow. Needles are borne singly or in clusters of 30 to 40. Mature seed cones are ¾ to 1¾ long and are covered with 40 to 60 scales. It is rare in Minnesota.

 
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Wet, poorly drained sites, swamps, bogs, muskeg. Shade intolerant.

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Pollination

 
 

Late April to late May

 
     
 

Pests and Diseases

 
 

Larch canker

 
     
 
Use
 
 

 

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 24, 28, 30.

 
  10/24/2021      
         
 

Nativity

 
 

Native

 
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Common

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Pinopsida (conifers)  
  Subclass Pinidae  
 

Order

Pinales (pines)  
 

Family

Pinaceae (pines)  
  Subfamily Laricoideae  
 

Genus

Larix (larch)  
       
 

Subordinate Taxa

 
 

 

 
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

Larix alaskensis

Larix laricina var. alaskensis

Pinus laricina

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

Alaskan larch

American larch

black larch

eastern larch

eastern tamarack

hackmatack

red larch

tamarack

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Keeled

Folded, as in a grass blade, or with a raised ridge, as in a grass sheath; like the keel of a boat.

 

Wing

A thin, flat, membranous, usually transparent appendage on the margin of a structure.

 
 
Visitor Photos
 
           
 

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Luciearl

 
    tamarack   tamarack  
 

Randy

 
 

An old American Larch, definitely not a European Larch, growing in a yard in Albert Lea, MN

 
    tamarack   tamarack  
           
 

Tamarack sapling, Freeborn County, MN, September 2017

 
    tamarack      
           
 

Tamarack, fall 2016

 
    tamarack      
           
 

Tamarack west of Faribault

 
    tamarack      
           
  Stand of wild growing tamarack, exhibiting golden yellow fall color, along the southern edge of the natural of the species, in marshland west of Faribault, MN, October 2016   tamarack  
           
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
 
 

Tree

 
    tamarack      
           
 

Branch

 
    tamarack   tamarack  
           
 

Cone

 
    tamarack      
           
 

Early Spring

 
    tamarack   tamarack  
           

 

Camera

     
 
Slideshows
 
 
     
     
     

 

slideshow

       
 
Visitor Videos
 
       
 

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Other Videos
 
  Trees with Don Leopold - eastern larch or tamarack
ESFNature
 
   
 
About

Published on Dec 18, 2013

Don Leopold demonstrates the characteristics of eastern larch or tamarack.

Content produced by Christopher Baycura for the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF).

   
  Respect for a very old Tamarack Tree
TheNorthwoodsman1
 
   
 
About

Published on Mar 22, 2012

A near record age Tamarack tree fell in a Minnesota bog and it is put to good use out of respect for its longevity. Attempts to count the growth rings always end up around 325 to 350 years of age, but some of the areas are too hard to count because of the number of rings in a small space. The bog was wet enough that it did not burn when fires went through the area.

   
       

 

Camcorder

 
 
Visitor Sightings
 
           
 

Report a sighting of this plant.

 
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  Luciearl
10/22/2021

Location: Cass County

tamarack

 
  Luciearl
9/5/2021

Location: Lake Shore

tamarack

 
  Randy
Summer 2019

Location: Albert Lea, MN

An old American Larch, definitely not a European Larch, growing in a yard in Albert Lea, MN

tamarack

 
  Randy
September, 2017

Location: Freeborn County, MN

Tamarack sapling

tamarack

 
  Randy
October, 2016

Location: Rice County, MN

tamarack

 
  Randy
October, 2016

Location: West of Faribault, MN

Stand of wild growing tamarack, exhibiting golden yellow fall color, along the southern edge of the natural of the species, in marshland

tamarack

 
           
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings
 
   

 

 

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