European Larch

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European larch

Scientific name: Larix decidua
The European larch was introduced into the UK from Central Europe in the 17th century. Unusually for a conifer, it is deciduous and displays small, greeny-red cones on brittle twigs.

Species information

Statistics

Height: up to 35m

Conservation status

Introduced, non-native species.

When to see

January to December

About

An introduced species in the UK, the European larch is an unusual conifer because it is deciduous. It has small cones on brittle twigs that start off green and red, but turn brown as they mature, eventually opening their 'scales' to release the seeds inside. In spring, the needles are bright green, but they turn golden-yellow in the autumn, before they drop.

How to identify

The European larch has clusters or 'tufts' of short needles on its twiggy branches, and small (2-3cm long), upright cones that look reddish before hardening. There is usually a thick layer of shed needles beneath the tree.

Distribution

Widely planted for forestry.

Did you know?

The European larch is native to the mountains of Central Europe and was introduced into the UK in the early 17th century for timber plantations. Today, this wood is mainly used for fencing, gates and garden furniture.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many woodland nature reserves sympathetically for the benefit of all kinds of wildlife. A mix of coppicing, scrub-cutting, ride maintenance and non-intervention all help woodland wildlife to thrive. You can help too: volunteer for your local Wildlife Trust and you could be involved in everything from traditional forest crafts to surveying for woodland plants.