Larix laricina


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Tamarack, a deciduous conifer tree


“Don’t cut that tree down, it’s not dying, it’s a Tamarack!”

    This site is devoted to the species Larix laricina, more commonly known as the Tamarack tree.  Genus Larix, more commonly known as the larches, are unique because they are deciduous conifers.  That’s right!  Every fall senescence progresses and the leaves on this Conifer tree turn gold and depart from their branches.  This genera includes eleven different species, three of which are native to North America.

A general overview

    Larix laricina is easily recognized.  It typically grows to about 15 meters high.  The bark of Tamarack is reddish-brown, scaly, and can be delicate.  The leaves grow light green in the spring and stay on the tree through the summer in distinct clusters of 15-25 needles.  Refer to the picture at the top of my page for a visual.  In the fall, Tamarack’s three-sided leaves turn golden yellow and fall off of the tree.  For more on this, visit my page on adaptations.  Even after the leaves have fallen, Larix laricina is easily identified because of the distinct nodes on its branches.  Tamarack can also be very easily identified by its small ball-shaped cones.  For a visual of the cones, visit my page on Reproduction.

Taxonomic classification

Domain - Eukaryote

Kingdom - Plantae

Division - Coniferophyta

Class - Pinopsida

Order - Pinales

Family - Pinacea

Genus - Larix

Species - laricina

Where did our great northern forests come from?

    18,000 years ago, at the peak of the last ice age, the northern boreal was completely covered in giant ice sheets.  During this time, evergreen and conifer trees remained south of the glaciated area, even in the great plains region.  Very slowly, as the ice melted away, plant growth resumed.  The glaciers left nothing but rock, boulders, sand and gravel.  This material was gradually broken down into soil, as this occurred, trees became commonplace.  Conifers became especially adapted to this area, which came to be known as the northern boreal forests.


This website is part of a larger project within the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse’s Biology department called

Thank you to Greg Sandland and Tom Volk who make this website possible.  Make sure to visit Tom Volk’s Fungi website.  Fungi are very closely related to Animals, and are very fascinating.

Fun Facts and special uses of Larix laricina

-The most widespread use of Tamarack wood is in pulp for making paper.  The wood is also used for house frames, railroad ties and fence posts.

-The word ‘Tamarack’ was derived from the Abenaki Native American word ‘Hackmatack,’ which means ‘wood for making snowshoes’

-Tamarack has also been used as wood on the runners of dog sleds.

-Tamarack bark can be made into a tea.  This tea can be utilized as a diuretic and laxative.  It is also used as a remedy for sore throats.  The sap of Tamarack can be even chewed to aid in indigestion.

This is an image showing the glacier location of the last great ice age 18,000 years ago.  Compare this to Tamarack’s range.

Last updated April 2010.  Contact Justin Panich for comments or questions.