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Content Detail

Japanese larch is a sun-loving, deciduous conifer native to Japan. The 70-foot-high pyramidal tree has slender, pendulous branches, and clusters of bright green needles that turn a golden yellow in the fall before dropping.

  • Family (English) Pine
  • Family (botanic) Pinaceae
  • Planting site City parkway, Residential and parks, Wide median
  • Tree or plant type Tree
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Large tree (more than 40 feet)
  • Mature height 70-90 feet
  • Mature width 25-40 feet
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Road salt
  • Season of interest mid spring, late spring, early summer, midsummer, late summer, early fall, mid fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Inconspicuous
  • Shape or form Pyramidal
  • Growth rate Fast
  • Transplants well Yes
  • Planting considerations Intolerant of pollution, May be difficult to find in nurseries
  • Wildlife Insect-eating birds, Moths, Seed-eating birds
  • Has cultivars Yes

Native geographic location and habitat:

This larch species is native to Japan.

Bark color and texture:

Mature bark is a scaly, reddish-brown.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture:

Needles are dark green above with two white bands on the underside and grow in clusters of 40 needles on short spurs. Fall color is golden yellow and the needles are deciduous.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

Female flowers are 1/2 inch long and reddish, while male flowers are smaller, yellow, and catkin-like along the same twigs.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

The larch has small, 1 to 1-1/2 inch stalked cones which persist throughout winter.

Plant care:

Best in a sunny site with moist soil. The larch is intolerant of shade, drought, and air pollution.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

Larch case-bearer, Lymantria dispar (formerly known as gypsy moth), and woolly aphids are potential problems.

Diana Japanese larch (Larix kaempferi ‘Diana’):

This smaller cultivar has a pyramidal habit and contorted new growth. It grows 45 feet tall and 20 feet wide.

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