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Larix occidentalis - Western larch


Western larch is native to a restricted area in the western Rockies in North America. In Finland it grows successfully only in the richest and warmest sites in the south of the country.

It is most easily distinguished from other larches by its cones, where the seed bracts extend beyond the cone scales. It is narrower in habit than the other larches and large-growing, achieving heights of 40-50m.

Growing western larch at Mustila has proved difficult. Of older plantings there is only a single specimen which can be described as a proper tree, on Pähkinärinne (Hazelnut Slope). More recent trials from the 1980s seem to indicate that it might be possible to find provenances suitable for Finland.


Larix laricina - American larch, or tamarack


American larch, or tamarack, is easily identified, even from a distance, by its crown of slender twisting branches. The tree is slender and small in comparison with other larches. It grows quite rapidly when young but remains shorter and more slender than Siberian larch (Larix sibirica), for example. The tamarack’s needles are blue-green, turning to yellow in autumn, brightening the landscape before they fall. The cones are small, just a little larger than a pea.

Tamarack is worth trying on fertile sites with good light and moist soil. It is hardy, depending on provenance, up to and including Lapland.

In general American larch species haven’t done as well at Mustila as the eastern species. Unfortunately the provenance of the tamarack seed tried at Mustila is not known precisely, so another provenance might be more successful.


Larix kaempferi - Japanese larch


The Japanese larch, from the mountains of Honshu Island, is hardy in Finland to zone III, i.e. quite far inland. The species has grown at Mustila since about 1910 and has suffered little or no damage even in the coldest winters of last century. However, when young the seedlings are rather tender to autumn frosts due to their maritime origin. Autumn frost can also damage the flower buds.

The bluish tone of the needles clearly distinguishes this species from the other larches growing at Mustila. The cones, distinctly rose-shaped, are highly attractive.

Japanese larch is found at Mustila near Juhlapaikka (Festival Area), with one very impressive broad-crowned individual at the edge of the wood.


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