European Larch identification

The European Larch Larix decidua, a conifer native to the Alps and Central European Mountains, was introduced to Britain about 1620. The tree is now common and is grown for its timber in forests and woodlands and also planted in parks and gardens for its appearance. European Larch identification is by its bright green deciduous needles in clusters and upright brown cones. This is a deciduous conifer. Leaves turn gold and fall in autumn and regrow from April. The needles grow in clusters, like ‘true’ cedars, and the buds are easy to see in winter. Some cones stay on the tree for years.

European larch tree

A tree that is just turning green in spring (mid April).

European larch needles

The needles are bright green in clusters of 20-30 needles. The needle clusters are on short stems called ‘spurs’.

European larch tree in autumn

A tree in November just before shedding all the needles.

European larch bark

The bark has vertical cracks. Old trees have pink scaly bark.

European larch female flower

Female ‘flower’ in March ready to receive pollen. Male ‘flowers’ are on the underside of a branch like this. Each one releases pollen for one day but the tree releases pollen over a period of 2 weeks in March and April.

European larch young cones

Female ‘flowers’ in early May. These ‘flowers’ have been pollinated and are just beginning to grow into cones. This close-up shows the red top (the colour of the original ‘flower’) and the light green bract scales that will not be visible when the cone matures.

European larch mature cone

A mature cone on the tree in November before the needles have turned golden.

European larch old cones

Old cones stay on the tree for many years.

Tree in February

The buds are easy to see in winter. Photo taken in November

In winter the tree can be identified by big buds and old cones. This shows the tree in November just before the needles have fallen.

Old cones stay on the tree for many years.