Forest crops: Japanese larch

Forest crops: Japanese larch

Classification, origin and diffusion

Division: Spermatophyta
Subdivision: Gymnospermae
Class: Coniferae
Family: Pinaceae

It is a plant native to Japan (Honshu Island), where it forms large mixed forests with confifers and broad-leaved trees (oaks, beeches, birches). At the limit of vegetation it often becomes a dwarf plant, with a very attractive appearance.

Japanese larch - Larix kaempferi (Lamb.) Carrière (photo

Japanese larch - Larix kaempferi (Lamb.) Carrière (photo Henriette Kress)

General characteristics

Size and bearing
Tree up to 35 m tall, with a straight posture and a blue-green pyramidal crown, with regular horizontal stakes.
Trunk and bark
The trunk has a reddish-brown rind with grayish plaques.
Tender and flattened needles, deep green color above and silver below.
Reproductive structures
Yellow and globular male cones (about 1 cm in diameter); the female cones are larger, erect, red-violet before fertilization, ovoid.
The fruit is a globular cone, brown when ripe, with rounded scales. Pine cones remain on the branches for several years after dissemination.


Since the nineteenth century it is widespread in Europe as an ornamental plant. In Italy, until the 1960s, it was used in reforestation in the Alps and the Apennines, also hybridizing it with European larch.

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