tamarack

(Larix laricina)

               
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern

tamarack

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

Nativity

Native

 
Occurrence

Common

 
Habitat

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

 
Pollination

Late April to late May

 
Height

40 to 70

 

Identification

This 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.

 
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.

 
Pests and Diseases

larch canker


Distribution Distribution Map   Sources: 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 24, 28.

Record

The champion tamarack in Minnesota is also the national champion. It is on private property in or near Brainerd, in Crow Wing County. In 2004 it was measured at 71 tall and 133 in circumference (42 in diameter).

 
Comments

 


Taxonomy

Family:

Pinaceae (pine)

 

Subfamily:

Laricoideae

 
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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Randy


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    

       
       
       

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  tamarack   tamarack
       
       
       

 

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  Larix laricina
Blake C. Willson
 
  Larix laricina  
 
About

tamarack larch

 
     
  Tamaracks
Andree Reno Sanborn
 
  Tamaracks  
 
About

also known as American larch tree.

 
     

 

slideshow

     

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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.

 
     

 

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Visitor Sightings

   
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Randy
Fall, 2016

 

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


     
     
 

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