from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
European larch (Larix decidua), illustration

European larch ( Larix decidua ), illustration

Subdivision : Seed plants (Spermatophytina)
Class : Coniferopsida
Order : Conifers (Coniferales)
Family : Pine family (Pinaceae)
Subfamily : Laricoideae
Genre : Larches
Scientific name

The larches ( Larix ) are a genus of plants in the pine family (Pinaceae). They often grow in the northern primeval forests and in commercial forests . The European larch was the tree of the year 2012 in Germany and the tree of the year 2002 in Austria .


Mixed larch forest in Austria in autumn
Illustration: European (top and center), Siberian (bottom right), Japanese (bottom left), Dahurian (bottom center) and East American larch (center right)
Two male and one female European larch cones during the flowering period.
Larix: pollen (400 ×)

Vegetative characteristics

All larch species are deciduous trees , so they shed their needle-shaped leaves in late autumn . This makes them one of the two not evergreen genera within the pine family. The other genus is that of the golden larch , which does not belong to the larch. There are 10 to 60 needle leaves on a short shoot or the needle leaves are individually on annual long shoots. The bark is silver-gray to gray-brown on young trees; it later turns reddish brown to brown.

The European larch ( Larix decidua ) reaches heights of growth of around 40 meters, American Larix species are even a little higher. The seedlings have (four to eight cotyledons cotyledons ).

Generative characteristics

Larix species are single sexed ( monoecious ), so they have male and female cones on a tree. The individually standing male cones are egg-shaped to cylindrical, yellowish and usually smaller than 1 centimeter. The female cones are initially green, red or purple in color. They need four to seven months from fertilization to maturity, but remain on the tree for several years even after the seeds have been scattered. The egg-shaped to spherical cones stand upright at the end on short shoots or on a short, curved, leafy stem on the branch. When ripe they are light to dark brown. The seed scales are usually a little wider than they are long. The cover scales are smooth and thin. The small seeds are whitish and 4 to 6 millimeters in size with 6 to 9 millimeter wings.


The tallest larch in Europe is probably the Hildegard larch in the Überlinger Forest on Lake Constance, which is around 300 years old with a height of 45 meters, a circumference of 4.75 meters and 27 cubic meters of wood. The name goes back to a gift from Countess Hildegard. In Switzerland there is a specimen with a trunk circumference of 10.70 meters, a diameter of 3.34 meters at chest height, a waist circumference of 8.50 meters (at a height of 3 meters), a base circumference of 12 meters and a trunk volume of 45 m³. The tallest tree of the genus is a West American larch ( Larix occidentalis ), the "Seeley Lake Giant" in the Lolo National Forest in Montana , with a height of 49.4 meters, a trunk diameter (BHD) of 2.21 meters and 83 m³ trunk volume .

Undoubtedly the oldest find is the Shigir idol carved from a larch , which was recovered from 4 meters depth of the Shigir Moors in the Transural and was dendrochronologically dated to around 11,000 years. The once over 5 meters tall idol is astonishingly reminiscent of wooden idols that z. B. were also found in Northern Europe. It is exhibited in the Sverdlovsk Regional Museum of Yekaterinburg.


Japanese larch ( Larix kaempferi )
East American larch ( Larix laricina )
Rock Mountain Larch ( Larix lyallii ) in Washington State
Chinese larch ( Larix potaninii ) in Sichuan
Siberian larch ( Larix sibirica ) in the Urals

The genus Larix was established in 1754 by Philip Miller .

Depending on the author to 10-20 Larix - types distinguished. In particular, there are different views on many of the subspecies often listed under Larix gmelinii .

In the past, the length of the cones was often used to divide the genus Larix into two sections (section Larix with short, section Multiserialis with long cover scales). However, the first genetic analyzes (Gernandt 1999) do not prove this. Rather, these indicate a genetic separation between the Eurasian and American species; accordingly, the size of the cones and cover scales is only to be regarded as an adaptation to climatic environmental conditions.

Species and varieties with their distribution

There are 10 to 20 species of Larix :

  • European larch ( Larix decidua Mill. ): There are three varieties:
    • Common European larch ( Larix decidua Mill. Var. Decidua , Syn .: Larix europaea Lam. & DC. , Larix sudetica Domin )
    • Carpathian larch ( Larix decidua var. Carpatica Domin , Syn .: Larix carpatica Domin ): It occurs in the eastern Carpathians and in northwestern Ukraine .
    • Polish Larch ( Larix decidua var. Polonica (Racib. Ex Wóycicki) Ostenf. & Syrach , Syn .: Larix polonica Racib. , Larix decidua subsp. Polonica (Racib.) Domin )
  • Dahurian larch ( Larix gmelinii (Rupr.) Kuzen. , Syn .: Larix dahurica Trautv. ): There are about four varieties, depending on the author:
    • Larix gmelinii (Rupr.) Kuzen. var. gmelinii : It occurs in eastern Russia, Korea , Mongolia , Inner Mongolia and the Chinese provinces of Heilongjiang and Jilin .
    • Kurile larch ( Larix gmelinii var. Japonica (usually) pilgrims )
    • Prinz Rupprecht larch ( Larix gmelinii var. Principis-rupprechtii (Mayr) Pilger ): It thrives in the mountains, mostly on rocky slopes at altitudes of 600 to 2800 meters in the Chinese provinces of Hebei , northwestern Henan and Shanxi .
    • Olgabucht larch ( Larix gmelinii var. Olgensis (A.Henry) Ostenfeld & Syrach ) (Syn .: Larix olgensis A.Henry )
  • Larix griffithii Hook. f. : There have been two varieties since 1998:
    • Sikkim larch ( Larix griffithii Hook. F. Var. Griffithii ): It occurs in the Himalayas in Bhutan , Nepal , Sikkim and in southern and eastern Tibet.
    • Larix griffithii var. Speciosa (WCCheng & YWLaw) Farjon (Syn .: Larix speciosa W.C.Cheng & YWLaw ): It has had the status of a variety since 1998. It thrives in the mountains at altitudes of 2600 to 4000 meters in southeastern Tibet and northwestern Yunnan .
  • Japanese larch ( Larix kaempferi (Lambert) Carriére , Syn .: Larix leptolepis (Siebold & Zucc.) Gordon ): It comes from Japan . It is cultivated in China.
  • East American larch ( Larix laricina (DuRoi) K.Koch )
  • Rock Mountain Larch ( Larix lyallii Parlatore )
  • Larix mastersiana Rehder & EHWilson (Syn .: Larix griffithii var. Mastersiana (Rehder & EHWilson) Silba ): It thrives in the mountains at altitudes of 2300 to 3500 meters in the Chinese province of Sichuan .
  • Western larch ( Larix occidentalis Nutt. )
  • Larix potaninii Batalin : There are four varieties:
    • Larix potaninii var. Australis A. Henry ex Hand.-Mazz. (Syn .: Larix potaninii var. Macrocarpa Y.W.Law ): It thrives in the mountains at altitudes of mostly 3800 to 4300 (2700 to 4600) meters in southeastern Tibet and in the Chinese provinces of southwestern Sichuan and northwestern Yunnan.
    • Chinese larch ( Larix potaninii var. Chinensis L.K.Fu & Nan Li , Syn .: Larix chinensis Beissner non Mill. ): In contrast to Larix potaninii var. Potaninii , it has yellow long shoots and red, tapering cover scales. It occurs only in the southern part of Shaanxi .
    • Himalayan larch ( Larix potaninii var. Himalaica (WCCheng & LKFu) Farjon & Silba , Syn .: Larix himalaica W.C.Cheng & LKFu ): It occurs only in Nepal and southern Tibet.
    • Larix potaninii Batalin var. Potaninii : It thrives in the mountains and in river valleys at altitudes of 2500 to 4000 meters in the Chinese provinces of Gansu, Sichuan and northern Yunnan.
  • Siberian larch ( Larix sibirica Ledeb. , Syn .: Larix russica (Endl.) Trautv. ): It occurs in Mongolia, Eastern Russia and Xinjiang .
Habit of Larix × czekanowskii in the habitat


Swiss hybrid larch ( Larix × marschlinsii )

Nature hybrids :

  • Larix × czekanowskii Szafer = Larix gmelinii × Larix sibirica : This natural hybrid occurs in central Siberia.

The following hybrids of larch species are known (selection):

  • Bavarian hybrid larch ( Larix × eurokurilensis Rohmeder & Dimpflm. = Larix decidua × Larix gmelinii var. Japonica )
  • Scottish hybrid larch ( Larix × eurolepis A. Henry = Larix decidua × Larix kaempferi )
  • Swiss hybrid larch ( Larix × marschlinsii Coaz = Larix decidua × Larix sibirica )
  • Hanging larch ( Larix × pendula (Aiton) Salisb. = Larix decidua × Larix laricina )


European larch ( Larix decidua ) after timber advertising in the forest

Larch wood is mainly used as construction and furniture wood, much less often it is used as firewood. The European larch, the Siberian larch in Eurasia and the East American and West American larch in North America are of particular economic interest. In addition, there are other species of lesser or regional importance, including the Japanese larch from the Japanese island of Honshū, which is partly grown in Europe, as well as the hybrid larch ( Larix eurolepis ) grown from the European and Japanese larch .

Larch wood is the heaviest and hardest wood of the European coniferous timber and is only surpassed by the rarely used yew . It is mainly used as construction timber for roof structures, wall and ceiling constructions, in interior construction for almost all wood uses, including stairs, railings, wall cladding, doors, parquet and plank floors as well as outside for house doors, garage doors, windows, facade cladding, frames and parapets as well used for large cladding. In addition, there are many special uses due to the special properties of larch wood in earthworks, hydraulic engineering and bridge construction, in boat building and for numerous other applications.

The energetic use of larch wood plays a comparatively minor role. Larch wood has a calorific value of 4.4 kWh / kg or 1,700 kWh / rm and is therefore comparable to pine and Douglas fir . Like most types of wood, it is mainly used in private house fires in the form of split logs . Industrial waste ( wood chips ) and the like are used as wood pellets . a. also offered from larch wood production in the form of mixed pellets.


  • Michael P. Frankis: Generic Inter-Relationships in Pinaceae . In: Notes Royal Botanical Garden Edinburgh . tape 45 , no. 3 , 1988, pp. 527-548 ( online [accessed November 6, 2011]).
  • Christopher J. Earle: Larix. In: The Gymnosperm Database. 2019, accessed April 12, 2019 .
  • Robert F. Schloeth : The larch. An intimate tree portrait , Aarau 1996.

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e Christopher J. Earle: Larix. In: The Gymnosperm Database. 2019, accessed April 12, 2019 .
  2. David S. Gernandt, Aaron Liston: Internal transcribed spacer region evolution in Larix and Pseudotsuga (Pinaceae) . In: American Journal of Botany . tape 86 , no. 5 , 1999, p. 711–723 ( [PDF; 172 kB ; accessed on November 6, 2011]).
  3. a b c d e f g h Walter Erhardt , Erich Götz, Nils Bödeker, Siegmund Seybold: The great pikeperch. Encyclopedia of Plant Names. Volume 2: Types and Varieties. Page 1501. Eugen Ulmer, Stuttgart (Hohenheim) 2008, ISBN 978-3-8001-5406-7 .
  4. a b c d e f g h i j k l Liguo Fu, Nan Li, Thomas S. Elias, Robert R. Mill: Pinaceae. : Larix Miller , pp. 33-34 - online with the same text as the printed work , In: Wu Zheng-yi, Peter H. Raven (Ed.): Flora of China. Volume 4: Cycadaceae through Fagaceae. Science Press and Missouri Botanical Garden Press, Beijing and St. Louis, 1999, ISBN 0-915279-70-3 .
  5. a b c William H. Parker: Larix Miller - the same text online as the printed work , In: Flora of North America Editorial Committee (ed.): Flora of North America North of Mexico. Volume 2: Pteridophytes and Gymnosperms. Oxford University Press, New York and Oxford, 1993, ISBN 0-19-508242-7 .
  6. Rafaël Govaerts (ed.): Larix. In: World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (WCSP) - The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew . Retrieved April 12, 2019.
  7. D. Grosser, W. Teetz: Lärche . In: Local timber (loose-leaf collection) . Information service wood, wood sales fund - sales promotion fund of the German forest and wood industry, 1998, ISSN  0446-2114 .

Web links

Commons : Lärchen ( Larix )  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Larch  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations