This stunning tree becomes a brilliant shade of golden-yellow in the fall when it is about to lose its deciduous needles. It is one of the only needled trees to loose its needles every year. The needles are grown in bunches; 30 to 40 bunches line the sides of a twig. The cones look hairy and reddish-brown in colour.
RANGE & HABITAT
These trees are found throughout the Cascade and Rocky mountains. This hardy species can withstand freezing temperatures and likes rocky, exposed slopes to grow on.
In early spring the new growth of bright green needles is a delight to anyone who happens to be hiking in the alpine wilderness. By late fall the tree is again stunning, turning a bright golden-yellow before it drops its needles and prepares for winter.
Blue grouse likes to eat the soft deciduous needles of the alpine larch. Bighorn sheep, grizzly and black bears, and at times mountain goats, all feed on the branches and bark of this tree.
TRADITIONAL FIRST NATIONS USES
There are few records of First Nations uses for this tree, but it was sometimes used for firewood and building.
They serve a valuable function as wildlife habitat in cold alpine regions and also help stop erosion on their steep slope habitat. These trees are also a wonder to see and are great for wilderness lovers. If you are lost in the bush, use the twigs to make a tea that will give you some energy.
COSEWIC: Not at Risk
Photo: Sean Munson