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American Larch

The Larix Laricina is commonly known as Alaskan Larch, American Larch, Eastern Larch, Hackmatack, Tamarack, as well as Tamarack Larch

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Growing Regions

Tamarack is distributed across most of northern North America. It occurs from Newfoundland and Labrador northwest across northern Canada to the northern Yukon Territory, south to northeastern British Columbia and central Alberta, southeast to southern Minnesota, Wisconsin, and northeastern Illinois, and east to New England [32]. A major disjunct population occurs in the interior of Alaska between the Brooks Range to the north and Alaska Range to the south [26]. It also occurs locally in the mountains of West Virginia and western Maryland.


General Information

The currently accepted scientific name of tamarack is Larix laricina (Du Roi) K. Koch [32]. The genus Larix consists of 10 species of deciduous, coniferous trees found in cool, temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. Three species of Larix, including tamarack, are native to North America. Tamarack is a widely distributed species that exhibits considerable genetic variation. At one time, plants from Alaska were considered as either a distinct species or as a variety of tamarack. Recent research shows that although Alaskan plants exhibit some variation in cone and needle characteristics, the variation is insufficient to warrant recognition as a separate species or variety [39]. Across tamarack's range the pattern of variation is gradual, and no varieties or ecotypes are currently recognized [26]. Natural hybridization between tamarack and other larches has not been documented. Tamarack has been artifically crossed with Japanese larch (L. leptolepis) and European larch (L. decidua) [26].

In northern Minnesota and throughout much of Canada, tamarack forms
extensive pure stands.  Throughout the rest of its range in the United
States it forms isolated pure stands or is a minor component of other
forest types [26].  In the northeastern United States, tamarack is
characteristically found in open and forested bogs, but it seldom
dominates in forested bog communities [9].  Throughout its range, black
spruce (Picea mariana) is usually associated with tamarack.  In Alaska,
black spruce and tamarack may codominate wet, lowland sites with shallow
permafrost [48].

Tamarack is sometimes a dominant tree in seral lowland communities.  It
has been listed as a community type (cts) dominant in the following

 Area                Classification                 Authority

AK                  general veg. cts           Viereck & Dyrness 1980

AB                  general veg. cts           Moss 1955
PQ: ST. Lawrence    general veg. pas, cts      Dansereau 1959

Much of the information presented here is attributed to:
Uchytil, Ronald J. 1991. Larix laricina. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available at USDA Forest Service.

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