Western Larch VS. American Larch (Tamarack) VS. European Larch ????

Discussion in 'Other Conifers' started by Cypress, Jul 25, 2013.

  1. Cypress

    Cypress Shohin

    Messages:
    398
    Location:
    Ithaca, New York
    Western Larch VS. American Larch (Tamarack) VS. European Larch?

    Basically just asking for everyone's opinions on which of these species of larch makes for the "best" bonsai, keeping in mind I'm somewhat of a bonsai beginner.

    A great local nursery nearby me has American Larch (Tamarack) and I believe European Larch. But they do not have and western larch. I didn't get a sold look at any of the specimens yet. And I would be willing to seek out a Western Larch depending on the feedback I get!

    Also I think it would be pretty funny for me to develop a Western Larch as a bonsai considering I've hugged the LARGEST Western Larch in the world when I was out in Montana (literally is, theres a whole big plaque next to it)... I'm attaching the picture of me hugging it for comic relief :D
     

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  3. amkhalid

    amkhalid Chumono

    Messages:
    632
    Location:
    Toronto
    Hi there,

    First off, if you are interested in larch you must get Nick Lenz's book Bonsai from the Wild 2nd Ed. Its available on StoneLantern.com and it the best information source on larch, period.

    American larch have smaller buds, cones, and needles making them superior over European or Japanese. Plus they are native which is awesome. They are slow to bark up, though.

    I am expecting that you will find very little info on Western Larch as bonsai. I've always wondered why there are no outstanding yamadori larch from the west coast (at least I've never seen them). My friend and forum member WireMe may have answered the question. Larch are best collected right before budbreak, but he said high alpine larch usually leaf out while the slopes are still snowy! American larch are usually the first things to bud out in the spring as well, but they don't grow on mountains as far as I know.

    Anyway, I know I just went off on a bit of a tangent but certainly euro and american larch are both awesome. Get the best specimen you can find and work from there. Even better, prowl around upstate New York and try to find somewhere where you can legally collect interesting American Larch.

    p.s. holy crap that is a big larch!
     
  4. fourteener

    fourteener Omono

    Messages:
    1,168
    Location:
    Duluth MN
    I agree, that is one amazing larch. Mine must be American based on looking at that. I have never seen a tamarack larger than a telephone pole here in MN.
     
  5. mc4mc44

    mc4mc44 Mame

    Messages:
    144
    Location:
    Long Pond, PA
    American larch are probably best. Everything is more in scale.

    I own a couple American larch and one Japanese larch, the needles on the Japanese larch are nearly twice as long as on the american. American larch seem to get more of a twiggy branch structure compared to the Japanese larch. The American larch also gets a nice soft blue color in the spring, which is a definite plus. I've seen European larch and could barely tell the difference from the American, only they had slightly longer, greener needles. I've never seen a western larch in person, so I really can't say anything about them. I really prefer the american larch of the ones I've seen though.
     
  6. coh

    coh Omono

    Messages:
    1,980
    Location:
    Rochester, NY
    There is someone in the BSUNY (Bonsai Society of Upstate NY) who collects larch in the area (thus, American larch and/or hybrids of it with the other species) and also grows them for bonsai use. Bill Valavanis has some for sale, others occasionally become available at club sales and auctions. Send me a PM if you want additional information. Bill is having an open house in early September, might be worth a trip if you can make it.

    Chris
     
  7. coppice

    coppice Mame

    Messages:
    216
    Location:
    SE-OH USA
    My vote is for American (tamarack) larch. seeing as your upstate (NY) it aught to be your favorite too. Naturally stunted larch in their uncounted millions litter upstate ditches from Albany (NY) to Prince Edward Island (and most of Maine).

    Size is a winner, price (free) is sterling, and heartyness is legendary.
     
  8. Cypress

    Cypress Shohin

    Messages:
    398
    Location:
    Ithaca, New York
    Hahaha, yes it was huge! Best tree hug I've ever had! But it's not a tamarack/american larch, it's a western larch! (out in northwestern Montana). I have a sneaking suspicion western larch grow larger than american larch do in the wild... but haven't officially looked it up.
     
  9. Cypress

    Cypress Shohin

    Messages:
    398
    Location:
    Ithaca, New York
    Chris thanks for the heads up!!! Yea I'll have to get in touch when I have some time. I've been meaning to get involved with a bonsai society too.

    -Mike
     
  10. Cypress

    Cypress Shohin

    Messages:
    398
    Location:
    Ithaca, New York
    Yea so I guess I started this thread because I was under the impression that western larch were more common bonsai than tamaracks... But I absolutely love tamaracks and their native to my area so I'll definitely seek out a nice specimen to work with at some point!

    Thanks for all the input
    -Mike
     
  11. Cypress

    Cypress Shohin

    Messages:
    398
    Location:
    Ithaca, New York
    I scouted out a nice tamarack today... at least 9 feet tall. nice trunk base. Gonna plant her in the ground this week, and can't wait to make some chops and dvelop leaders next spring! Or maybe wait another year and let that trunk get all sortsa fat!

    I'm excited, tamarack and bald cypress have always been my favorite tree species (I went to a forestry college). Guess I have a thing for deciduous conifers!

    Thanks again for the input!
     
  12. crust

    crust Chumono

    Messages:
    690
    Location:
    MN
    In the past I heard grumblings that western larch make sucky bonsai and are prone to maladies and that other species would be better choice but I can't say from personal experience. I did raise some cute squat collected Alpine larches for a few years but they resented the summer heat enough to eventually expire from being weakened. American larch, as everyone else says, seems the best for bonsai. Lenz did have a love for Japanese larch and they seemed to grow very well in New England even if they were not as trim. I have a few.
     
  13. wireme

    wireme Chumono

    Messages:
    847
    Location:
    Kootenays, British Columbia
    I will make it a goal to try some local alpine and western larch and see how it goes. As Aaron mentioned the alpine larch are difficult to access timing wise due to their early bud break and snow blocking the roads and trails, not impossible though and I might experiment with fall collection of some younger smaller trees to start with. I suspect that western larch bonsai are uncommon possibly because their natural range is fairly small and not many bonsai folk live within it. They are very common here but oddly, unlike alpine larch, haven't seen many good collectible yamadori. There are plenty of brushed western larch along forest service roads that could be developed into interesting trees though. Ill try a few of those and keep an eye out for good yamadori. Most of the old growth western larch was harvested around the turn of the century here but there are still a few small pockets of 800yr old giants similar to the first post photo around. Beautiful trees. I think western larch might have a better capacity to bark up thickly than other larix.
    Mp
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2013
  14. Cypress

    Cypress Shohin

    Messages:
    398
    Location:
    Ithaca, New York
    YUP! That western larch I was hugging was growing in Montana before columbus ever step foot in the Americas!!!! Trees can really blow my mind sometimes. (Good forum for it 'spose ;) )
     

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