Landowner Fact Sheets

western larch Larix occidentalis

Western larch is a fast growing, long lived, valuable timber species. Western larch is the largest of the world's larches. Like all species in the Larix genus, it is a deciduous conifer.

range map Click to see more images. fall color wood grain

Shelterwood, seed-tree, and clearcut systems allow for good western larch regeneration. Western larch is the most shade intolerant conifer of the northern Rockies.

Grows on moist, mid-elevation mountain slopes, often on flats and near streams.


A large deciduous conifer growing 100 to 180 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet in diameter, very straight bole topped with a lacy, open crown.

Timber Value
Western larch is used for lumber, fine veneer, interior and exterior finishing, utility poles, railroad ties, mine timbers, fuelwood, pulpwood, and chemical extracts.

Wildlife Value
Mice and squirrels eat the seeds. Black bears strip the bark and feed on the sap in spring. Needles are a major food source for several species of grouse.
Attracts mice, squirrels, cavity nesting birds, grouse, deer, elk, moose, black bears

Insects and Diseases

Fun Facts
Western larch is the largest member of its genus. Lumber is prized for general construction, millwork, and poles, pilings and posts. Thick basal bark helps it resist ground fires and it is one of first species within its range to re-colonize following a fire. Western larch is very intolerant of shade and requires high moisture. Western larch is the principal domestic source of arabinogalactan, a water soluble gum used in the processing of food, pharmaceuticals, paint, ink, and other industries.

Latin Meaning
Larix: Latin name / occidentalis: western - Latin "occidere" (to set, as the sun)

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Landowner Factsheets © 2004 Virginia Tech Forestry Department, all rights reserved. Text, images, and programming by: Dr. Jeff Kirwan, Dr. John R. Seiler, John A. Peterson, Edward C. Jensen, Guy Phillips, or Andrew S. Meeks.