WSU Clark County Extension

PNW Plants Searchable, categorized images

Western Larch

Scientific name: Larix occidentalis

Type:Coniferous trees
Plant Requirements
Zone:4 to 8
Sun:Full sun
Plant Characteristics
Height:150 ft
Width:30 ft
Additional Characteristics



Wildlife value

Description Western larch is known in the building trade for its great strength being used for railway ties and pilings.

This one of three confer species that are deciduous. The other two are Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) and Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum).

Western Larch is a Northwest native that can attain a mature height of well over 150’ but still not 30’ in diameter. It bears yellow-green needles in the spring which turn brilliant yellow in the fall before they are shed for the winter. Needles are borne singly on current year's twigs, but are clustered on spur shoots on older twigs. Needles are 1 to 1 3/4 inches long, linear, and flattened to triangular in cross-section.

Seed cones are elongated and red to reddish-brown. The scales have white hairs on the lower surface and prominent, long slender bracts. Pollen cones are yellow.

Mature trees develop thick, grooved plate-like bark with cinnamon-colored scales which can resemble those of Ponderosa Pine.

This a fire-resistant species that does its best on moist mountain slopes from 2,000 to 7,000 feet in elevation. Western Larch is generally found in mixed-conifer stands, where it competes aggressively with other species that prefer full sunlight. The greatest concentrations are found in the northeast sections of Washington and along the east slopes of the Cascade Mountains. Northern Idaho has a large native stand.

None reported.
For assistance, contact Dr. Charles Brun (, (360) 397-6060 5701
Computing and Web Resources, PO Box 6234, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-6234