T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Larix deciduas (Larch, European

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pinophyta
Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinales
Family: Pinaceae
Genus: Larix
Species: L. decidua
Binomial name: Larix deciduas
Common name: Larch, European larch,

Larix deciduas is a distinctive deciduous conifer native to the mountains of Europe and Western Asia. The countries it inhabits are Austria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Poland; Romania, Slovenia; Switzerland and the Ukraine. It was introduced into New Zealand as an ornamental tree and now has become an invasive wilding pine in the wetter, montane and subalpine sites of low fertility including tussock land.

In New Zealand Larix deciduas is a small or medium sized deciduous tree. Its form is pyramidal when young. The main branches are level to upswept, and the side branchlets are often pendulous. 
Its needle like leaves are on short shoots in clusters of 40-65, 1.5-4 cm long, soft, and light green. The leaves turn yellow before they fall in the autumn.
In Larix decidua has flowers that are separated according to gender, both grow on the same tree. The pale yellow male catkins are round, about 1 cm long and dangle from the branches. The female flowers are pink to dark-red in colour. After fertilisation they develop into cones which stand upright on the twigs and grow to >3.5 cm in length. 4–6 months after pollination the female cones which are >3.5 cm long release their seeds. Each seed has a broad wing. It is estimated that 1 KG of cones contain up to 170,000 seeds. The empty female cones remain on the tree for about 10 years before falling.





The crimson-red juvenile female cones

A developing female cone.


The open female cone