Pseudolarix amabilis - Golden Larch
Family - Pinaceae
Size - 50 to 60 feet in height with a spread of 30 to 40 feet. Pyramidal, with a open habit and wide spreading horizontal branching at maturity. Although growth rate is reported to be slow in some texts, I have found the opposite to be true. At least in youth it appears to be a fast grower, sometimes extremely fast, growing 3 feet or more per year but 3 feet could be considered the norm. 18-24 inch seedlings acquired in the Fall of 1994 are 8-10 foot trees with 2 inch caliper or more in July of 1997.
Update - As of May 2002, this tree has slowed down considerably since it was in the nursery. I would guesstimate that growth has been maybe 1 1/2 - 2 feet over the last 5 years. The moral of this story is, if you want a Golden Larch, get it to some size before you plant it in the ground.
Foliage - Approximately 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches in length, as much as 1/16 inch in wide, curved. New growth is a conspicuous light green. Foliage is much longer and softer than the needles of the genus Larix. Fall color is a ochre yellow. Golden Larch and Japanese Larch are the two best deciduous conifers for Fall color in my opinion. Needle hold is not as long as Japanese Larch.
Flower/Fruit/Seed - Cone, 2 to 3 inches in lenght, 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches wide, green to purple green during the summer, then turning a golden brown in the Fall.
Bark - Reddish brown on younger trees. grayish brown on older trees with some ridge and furrowing.
Pests and Diseases - None noticed
Landscape Use - Specimen for large areas; golf courses, parks, campuses. Majestic tree as it ages. Difficult to acquire; supposedly, seed is not viable on solitary trees. Trees which are grown in groves seem to produce viable seed more readily (Dirr). There are 3 Golden Larch on campus. Two of them have been planted within 200 feet of each other for this reason. Propagation by cuttings is virtually impossible.
Performance - 8 Thus far it seems that Golden Larch can perform extremely well in the southeast. It handles humid heat well, (something which surprised me) and thus far seems to be bothered by no insects or diseases. It seems very at home in the clay soils and to be very adaptable.