Larch tree appearance wood uses and lumber
Larch trees are common throughout the northern temperate zones of the world. The common or European larch is found in central Europe. The scientific name of European larch is larix decidua and is part of the pinaceae family. This tall conifers species is deciduous and has beautiful yellow colored needles in autumn before they fall to the ground. Larch trees can handle cold conditions and high altitudes well. Seven hundred year old trees grown in the European Alps at altitudes of 8200 feet or 2500 meters!
Larch tree, needles and fruit description
The European larch tree can grow to heights up to 131 feet or 40 meters. The tree is classed deciduous and won't have needles during winter.
Young larch needles are bright light green colored with short blunt tips. Older needles are darker green colored and still surprisingly soft. The larch tree has brown egg shaped cone fruits. The smooth cones age fast and get scaly with visible bracts.
The fruits of this tall tree species compared to other conifers are relatively small with lengths up to 2 inches or 5 cm.
Larch tree bark and trunk
Young European larch trees have smooth grey brown bark. When the tree gets older the bark gets darker with many irregular cracks. The trunk of the larch tree is long and straight. Low braches are often cut off by humans or fall off naturally due to the lack of sunlight. The diameter of the trunk depends on the age of the tree. Old trees can have trunks with a diameter up to 3.2 feet or 1 meter.
Larch wood properties and durability
Fresh European larch heartwood is pale to brick red colored. The sapwood has a lighter color more yellow reddish. Exposure to sunlight gives the wood a darker color, more in line with the heartwood. Larch wood is known for its straight or spiral grain, fine texture and nice colorations, moderate strength and stiffness and good working properties. The average dried weight of the wood at a moisture content of 12% is 650 kg per cubic meter. The durability of larch wood is classed as III moderate durability.
Larch wood working tips and uses
Larch wood is popular among carpenters and the wood work industry. The lumber nails, screws, glues, and works well both by hand or machine. Pre drilling is advised when screws or nails are used because the lumber can split.
Larch wood can contain resin that can cause problems when painting. It is best to let the lumber acclimatize to the surroundings and let it dry well. This will minimize the risk of cracks in the wood from the resin.
Larch wood is used in a wide range of products like
- stair rails
- railway sleepers
- and more!