Larch, a cone-bearing tree that grows in cool regions throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Unlike most other cone-bearing trees, larches shed their leaves in the autumn. The needlelike leaves grow in clusters from small spurs on the branches. The small cones are borne upright.
The American larch (also called tamarack, hackmatack, and eastern larch) ranges from Hudson Bay and Alaska to the northeastern United States. It is usually found in swampy areas, but sometimes grows in dry soils. It commonly reaches a height of about 60 feet (18 m). The leaves are about 1 inch (2.5 cm) long; the cones, one-half to three-fourths of an inch (1.3 to 2 cm) long. The western larch occurs chiefly on the eastern slopes of the Cascades. It reaches 150 feet (46 m) and bears needles 1 inch (2.5 cm) long and cones about 1 ½ inches (4 cm) long.
The European larch grows to be 70 feet (21 m) tall and bears leaves 1 inch (2.5 cm) long and cones 1 ½ inches (4 cm) long. This larch has been introduced into the United States. Its bark yields tannin, a substance used for tanning leather. The Japanese larch, introduced into the United States as a hardy ornamental, reaches 90 feet (27 m).
Larch wood, yellow to brown in color, is moderately strong. It is used for telephone poles, railway ties, shipbuilding, furniture making, and general construction.
Larches belong to the pine family, Pinaceae. The American larch is Larix laricina; western, L. occidentalis; European, L. decidua; Japanese, L. kaempferi.