Plant Detail

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Larix laricina

* Common Name:

tamarack, hackmatack, eastern larch, Alaska larch, American larch

* Genus:

Larix

* Species:

laricina

Subspecies:

* Family (scientific):

Pinaceae

* Family (common):

Pine

Synonyms :

* Distribution in Canada:

British Columbia
Alberta
Saskatchewan
Manitoba
Ontario
Quebec
New Brunswick
Nova Scotia
P.E.I.
Newfoundland
N.W.T.

 

Photographer: Bill Moses.

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Habitat

Ecozone(s):

Taiga Plains
Taiga Shield
Boreal Shield
Atlantic Maritime
Mixedwood Plains
Boreal Plains
Prairies
Boreal Cordillera
Montane Cordillera
Hudson Plains

Natural Habitat(s):

Woodland (35-60% cover)
Riparian (edge)
Swamp/Marsh (nutrient rich)

Lakeshores

Habitat Garden(s):

Pond/Standing Water
Woodland

Erosion Control? Yes

Characteristics
 
Growing Conditions

* Plant Type:

Tree

Moisture Requirements: Normal, Moist, Wet

Light Requirements: Sun

Soil Requirements: Clay, Sand, Loam, Humus Enriched (forest floor)

Temperature Zone: 3

Evergreen?

No

Average Height:

15 to 25 m

Tolerances:

Flower Info
 
Fruit/Seed Info

Showy flowers?

No

Showy fruit/seeds?

Yes

Bloom time:

Apr to May

Edible for humans?

Flower Colour(s):

Yellow, Red, Green/Brown

Fruit/Seed Colour(s):

Brown

Miscellaneous
 
Uses

Fragrant Flowers?

No

Urban Oasis, Stewards in the City, and Eco Superior are specific Evergreen programs that some plants are used in.

Fragrant Foliage?

No

Program & Other Uses:

Culinary
Medicinal
Aboriginal

Fall colours?

Yes

Distinctive bark?

No

Poisonous to humans?

Thorns or prickles?

No

Attracts wildlife?

Squirrels
Birds
Other Showy Insects

Larval host for:

Columbia silkmoth

Provincial tree/flower?

Plant Watch species?

Yes

Interesting Tidbits
 
References

Sheds needles in fall.
Larch wood is not valued for lumber but has been used occasionally in rough construction and as poles, piers and railway ties. (Kershaw)

First Nations used the roots of tamarack for sewing the strips of birch bark in their canoes. (Peattie)

Pioneer species; often first tree to invade open bogs and burned peatlands.
First nations used the roots for cordage, the wood for arrow shafts, and the bark for medicine. Roots were used by Ojibwe for sewing the edges of canoes and making woven bags.
Early Americans used the soft needles for stuffing pillows and mattresses and used the roots of large trees for ship building. Widely used in wooden ships, for timbers, planking, and to join ribs to deck timbers.
Because the wood is heavy, durable, and decay-resistant, it is also used for posts, poles, mine timbers, and railroad ties and, less commonly, for rough lumber, fuelwood, boxes, and crates.
The bark tannin has been used for tanning leather. (Rook)

The principal commercial use of tamarack is for making pulp products, especially the transparent paper in window envelopes. (USDA Forestry Service)

The tender spring shoots are nutritious, and can be eaten when they are boiled. The inner bark (cambium layer) of the tamarack tree can also be scraped, dried and ground into a meal to be mixed with other flours which some references indicate is an acquired taste (Peterson 1977), while other references imply the gummy sap that seeps from the tree has a very good flavor when chewed (Hutchens 1973), as sweet as maple sugar.
A tea made from tamarack bark is used as a laxative, tonic, a diuretic for jaundice, rheumatism, and skin ailments. It is gargled for sore throats. Poultices from the inner bark are used on sores, swellings and burns, as well as for headaches. For headaches, Ojibwe crush the leaves and bark and either applied as a poultice, or placed on hot stones and the fumes inhaled (Erichsen-Brown 1979).
The Chippewa (or Ojibway/Ojibwe) word for tamarack is muckigwatig� meaning swamp tree. The bark of the tree is used for burns. For burns, the inner bark of tamarack is finely chopped and applied to the burn in the morning and partially washed off at night, then reapplied the next morning. The medical constituents of tamarack are a volatile oil which contains pinene, larixine, and the ester bornylacetate (Densmore 1974).
The Potawatomi and Menomini make a heat-generating poultice from fresh inner tamarack bark for inflamation and wounds, or steeped for a medicinal tea. They also use it as a medicine for their horses, either as a tea to help Menomini horses with distemper, or shreaded inner bark mixed with oats to keep the hides of the Potawatomi horses loose (Erichsen-Brown 1979).
The Cree have made traditional use of the tamarack, called wachinakin� or wageenakin�, for millenia. In addition to it's medicinal uses, the Cree (or Eeyou) use parts of the tamarack tree for making toboggans, snow shoes, canoes and even firewood. But, perhaps the most well-known use is the elegant and lifelike goose hunting decoy made by the Cree from tamarack twigs.
(Native Technology and Art)

Intolerant of shade (Evergreen)

Larval food plants

USDA Forestry Service

Native Technology and Art

Trees of Ontario
Linda Kershaw
Lone Pine Publishing
2001
ISBN 1-55105-274-1

A Natural History of Trees of Eastern and Central North America
Donald Culross Peattie
Bonanza Books
Year unknown
ISBN unknown

TREEmendous trees and shrubs
The TREEmendous Saskatchewan Foundation Inc.
Campbell Printing Ltd.
Year of publication unknown
no ISBN number

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