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What species of tree is this?

  • Location: East of Toronto, zone 6; urban
  • Date of photos: May 10, 2022
  • Diameter at breast height: ~18 inches
  • Height: ~30 ft

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    $\begingroup$ And to help you sufficiently appreciate the excellent answer below, behold — The Larch 🙃 $\endgroup$
    – tyersome
    May 11 at 4:07
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    $\begingroup$ The Larch... The Larch $\endgroup$
    – bob1
    May 11 at 4:09

1 Answer 1

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Short Answer

Larix laricina, commonly called Tamarack or American Larch is a deciduous conifer with short-needle-like leaves arranged in bunched fascicles in a alternating (sometimes whorled) arrangement around short stems. The tree is the only species of Larix native to the Toronto region.

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Larix laricina stem Source: UWGB Herbarium

Long Answer

This is a larch tree in the genus Larix. These deciduous conifer trees characteristically have fascicles, or bunches, of short, needle-like leaves arranges in whorls around their stems. They grow in northern forests (deciduous conifer forests, boreal forests, and northern alpine forests) in temperate cold zones. (In fact, larches grow farther North than any other tree species!)

There are 3 North American Species and 9(-11) Eurasian species. Of those 12(-14) species, only 1 species, Larix laricina (Tamarack) is native to the Toronto region:

Larix laricina (Du Roi) K. Koch – Tamarack or American larch. Parts of Alaska and throughout Canada and the northern United States from the eastern Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic shore.

Larix lyallii Parl. – Subalpine larch. Mountains of northwest United States and southwest Canada, at very high altitude.

Larix occidentalis Nutt. – Western larch. Mountains of northwest United States and southwest Canada, at lower altitudes (Pacific Northwest).

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Range map for Larix laricina. Source: Wikipedia

BONAP range maps for Larix species confirms Larix laricina as native to Toronoto, but it also suggests evidence of the European species Larix decidua as an exotic.

  • We can rule out Larix decidua because the bark is neither smooth nor fissured (see Wisonsin Horticulture), the twigs are not gray or yellow (see the NAS Field Guide to Trees1), and the needles are neither reaching lengths of 4 cm (see Wikipedia) nor (from my quick count from your image) achieving clusters of 30-60 needles per fascicle (see USFS).

Larix laricina, commonly called Tamarack or American Larch, then, seems like the most likely species.

  • Range: Canada (including Toronto ; see above)

  • Bark: rough and scaly (USFS)

  • Leaves: 2-3 cm needles (wikipedia) bunches into fascicles containing 10-20 needles (USFS).

  • Twigs: reddish-brown (NAS Field Guide to Trees1)

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L: Larix laricina fascicle with leaves. R: Larix laricina stem Source: UWGB Herbarium

Your image is just a tad too blurry and my screen a tad too small to see your needle detail. A better image of the needles and an image focused on the bark would only further help to corroborate this guess.


1. Little, E. L. (1980). National audubon society Field Guide to North American Trees: Eastern Region. Alfred A. KNopf, New York.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks very much! If you click on my photos to zoom in (on a full PC computer screen), are they still to blurry? You might need to click on them a second time...to fully zoom in. $\endgroup$
    – User1974
    May 10 at 15:04

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