Larix kaempferi - Japanese Larch
Family - Pinaceae
Size - Deciduous conifer to 70 feet or greater in height with spread being 25 to 35 feet. Pyramidal in habit with somewhat pendulous branching. Growth rate can be medium to fast.
Foliage - Light green when emerging changing to dark green. Fall color is a beautiful light yellow-tan. Prettier and persisting longer than Golden Larch, in my opinion. The tree almost looks "lit up"
Bark - Deeply fissured on older trees. Second year wood has prominent striping of light brown (previous year leaf bases?) against cinnamon tone bark. Unusually attractive.
Pests and Diseases - Have had no problems thus far even though the list of potential problems is extensive. Supposedly Japanese Beetle can be a problem, but the Japanese Larch was unscathed as everything else around it was bombarded last year. Other pests are larch case-bearer, larch sawfly and wooly larch aphid. Larch case-bearer should appear in late March to early April here. As bad as all this may sound the tree is a good performer, much more so than European Larch, especially for this area.
Landscape Use - Specimen use. Definitely for the larger residential or commercial property, golf course, campus, or office park. A mature larch is a beautiful tree, needing distance between it and the observer so that it can be fully appreciated.
Performance - 9 Although it's use is limited to a larger property it has good potential in the south. It has performed so well in zone 7 that I'd say it has good possibilities in zone 8. It is the only Larch which can tolerate heat well. It is reliably hardy to zone 5. Should be planted where sufficient soil moisture is available. While at the Hoyt Arboretum in Portland, Oregon I saw some beautiful specimens of Japanese Larch in a small grove. I had never seen one before of that size (roughly 50 feet) and was entranced into a place where one just stares, while losing perception of time and space. And no, I wasn't on drugs. If you're ever in the area make an attempt to see them. They make quite a statement of grace combined with strength.
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