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Tamarack (Larix laricina)

STATE STATUS: Potentially Threatened

FAMILY: Pinaceae 

DESCRIPTION: Deciduous, coniferous tree to 20 m.  

SIMILAR SPECIES: This species is unique among native Ohio conifers. However, the European larch (L. decidua) and Japanese larch (L. leptolepis) are sometimes planted. L. decidua has more numerous and pubescent cone-scales and larger cones. L. leptolepis has conspicuous white stripes on the lower leaf surfaces, reddish twigs, larger cones and recurving cone-scales.  
TOTAL RANGE: Nfdl. and Lab. to AK, s. to NJ, WV, OH, IL, and MN.  
STATE RANGE: There are post-1990 records from Ashtabula, Geauga, Portage, Stark, Summit and Williams counties. There are pre-1990 records from Auglaize, Cuyahoga, Defiance, Lake, Trumbull and Wayne counties.  
HABITAT: Bogs, fens, borders of glacial lakes.  
THREATS: Destruction of bog habitat by draining, flooding, peat mining, or filling. Many populations in Ohio are infested with the larch casebearer moth (Coleophora laricella) that can damage or kill the trees. Trees are severely affected by the larch sawfly (Pristiphora erichsonii) in Michigan (Barnes and Wagner 1981).  
RECOVERY POTENTIAL: Poor. The species does not appear to reproduce well in Ohio. Many populations have adult trees, but few or no seedlings. Climate change is also a major issue with its ability to expand populations.  
INVENTORY GUIDELINES: Collect branchlets with mature cones.  
COMMENTS: The species should be sought in northeastern and extreme northwestern Ohio.  The species is occasionally planted outside of its range in Ohio.   
Barnes, B.V. and W.H. Wagner. 1981. Michigan Trees. A guide to the trees of Michigan and the Great Lakes region. Univ. of Mich. Press, Ann Arbor. 383 pp.  
Braun, E.L. 1961. The woody plants of Ohio. The Ohio State Univ. Press, Columbus OH. 362 pp.  
Voss, E.G. 1972. Michigan Flora, Part I. Gymnosperms and monocots. Cranbrook Inst. Sci. Bull. 59, Bloomfield Hills, MI. 488 pp.  

Updated 8/2020

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Division of Natural Areas and Preserves