Larix decidua - European Larch

Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Pinopsida - Order: Pinales - Family: Pinaceae

European Larch trees

The European larch, a deciduous pine tree, was introduced into Britain in the 17th century. Some 200 years later the faster-growing Japanese Larch, with which it is often confused, was brought to Britain.

Male cones of European Larch

The male cones (above) are very small and often go unnoticed, while the almost-spherical female cones (below) are purple and green at first.

Young female cone of Larix europaeus

As the seed-bearing female cones develop they turn olive-green (see below) and eventually brown.

Larch cone

When seen in winter, the bark of a larch tree is not very different from some other conifers, but the absence of green needles (larches are deciduous) is a valuable clue; and in springtime the distinctive groups of needles are a helpful identification feature.

Bark of a European Larch tree