Tamarack (S)

Scientific Name

Larix laricina

Wildlife Value


Average height




Shade Tolerance


Drought Tolerance


Growth Rate




Special Characteristics

Needles turn gold and drop in fall

Seedling Size 12" to 18"



General Description

It is a small to medium-size deciduous coniferous tree and has been able to survive extremely cold temperatures along with living for a couple of centuries or more. Prolonged flooding can easily damage the trees along with fire. The bark is tight and flaky, brown, but under flaking bark it can appear reddish. The leaves are needle-like, 2–3 cm (0.8–1.2 in) long, light blue-green, turning bright yellow before they fall in the autumn, leaving the pale pinkish-brown shoots bare until the next spring. The needles are produced spirally on long shoots and in dense clusters on short woody spur shoots. The cones are the smallest of any larch, only 1–2.3 cm (0.4–0.9 in) long, with 12-25 seed scales; they are bright red, turning brown and opening to release the seeds when mature, 4–6 months after pollination. 



Many insect species are known to be destructive to tamaracks. The larch sawfly is the most destructive. Epidemics occur periodically across Canada and the northern United States and have caused tremendous losses of merchantable tamarack throughout most of the tree's range. Indications are that radial increment declines markedly after 4 to 6 years of outbreak. After 6 to 9 years of moderate to heavy defoliation the trees die. In southeastern Manitoba and northern Minnesota, however, imported parasites of the sawfly have become established and should reduce the frequency and duration of future outbreaks. Another serious defoliator is the larch casebearer Coleophora laricella. The larch casebearer attacks tamarack of all ages, and several severe outbreaks have caused extensive mortality in some areas. Outbreak severity has lessened in recent years, however, probably due to imported parasites of the casebearer that have become widely established. Only a few other insects and related organisms (such as mites) that feed on tamarack are known to sometimes cause serious injury. During an outbreak the spruce budworm (Choristoneura fumiferana) can severely damage tamarack. The larch bud moth (Zeiraphera improbana) has had occasional short epidemics, and the spruce spider mite (Oligonychus ununguis) is occasionally found in large numbers on tamarack. The larch shoot moth (Argyresthia laricella) is widely distributed but serious injury is unusual. One of the most common bark beetles attacking tamarack is the eastern larch beetle (Dendroctonus simplex), but it feeds mainly on weakened, dying, or dead trees.



Shelterbelts and/or windbreaks: Although this species has received little or no attention in the past, it has potential and should be tested in both farmstead shelterbelts and single-row field windbreaks. The wood is used principally for pulpwood, but also for posts, poles, rough lumber, and fuelwood. Wildlife use the tree for food and nesting. It is also grown as an ornamental tree in gardens. 

Tamarack (bundle of 25)

    110 2nd Street South Suite 128, Waite Park, MN 56387 | Ph: 320-251-7800 x3 | Fax: 855-205-6907

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