Every person from school years knows that conifers are distinguished by the fact that they retain the green color of their needles both in winter and in summer. But there are trees among conifers that shed their needles every year in the fall in order to revive and turn green again in the spring.
In Russia, the most famous tree with such a seasonal behavior of needles is Siberian larch. But there are other conifers in the world that regularly get rid of needles in a similar way - taxodium, kempfera (false larch), metasequoia.
Description of Siberian larch
Larch of this species is a unique tree species in many ways. It is so unpretentious that it can grow in almost any conditions: from swampy lowlands to mountain slopes with rocky soil. Its thick bark is able to completely protect the tree from scorching fire, and the wood so successfully resists moisture that it is used to make ships and building materials that can be stored in a humid environment for many hundreds of years. But even the most detailed description of Siberian larch will not be as clear as with the proposed photo. It is especially important to understand how tender and unlike mature trees very young seedlings can be.
What does Siberian larch look like?
Siberian larch is a majestic tree, which at a young age has a pyramidal crown with a diameter reaching 10-15 m. Over the years, the crown becomes more rounded.
The bark of young trees is smooth and has an attractive light yellow tint. With age, grooves and cracks appear on it, it darkens and reaches 25 cm in thickness. The bark reliably protects larch trees from the most severe frosts, and also successfully resists forest fires. The wood has a reddish-brown hue with a light beige sapwood that is small in thickness. In terms of strength, it is second only to oak and is very resistant to moisture and any decay processes.
Among other characteristics of Siberian larch, a pleasant slightly citrus aroma can be noted, which comes from very young, just opened needles. The needles themselves are medium in length (up to 4-5 cm), rather soft to the touch. In the spring-summer period, the needles are characterized by a light green tint, with a slight bluish bloom, and in autumn they turn yellow, which gives larch trees a special charm.
Attention! Among the features of Siberian larch, you can notice the sparseness of the crown, therefore, in the shade of these trees there is a lot of light and a variety of plants can grow.
Larch branches often grow to the sides at an angle of almost 90 °, then making a gentle upward bend. Young annual shoots are yellow-green in color, rather long with a spiral arrangement of needles. Perennial shoots on larch trees are much shorter, have a grayish tint, and needles grow on them in bundles of 30-50 pieces. Each shoot lives for about 10-12 years.
Buds on trees have a wide conical shape, resinous structure and are covered with scales. The color is brown with a yellowish or reddish tint.
Where does Siberian larch grow
In Russia, larch is the most widespread tree. Occupies up to 40% of the area of the entire forest zone in our country. The distribution area of Siberian larch practically coincides with the Russian borders, only in the south it slightly extends into the territory of Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia.
It forms the most extensive clean and mixed forests throughout Siberia and the Far East, and also enters the Altai and Tien Shan mountains up to an altitude of 2500 m.
This species is also found on the European territory of Russia, mainly in its northeastern part. Larch loves to grow in a company with pines, spruces, firs, cedars.
Sizes of Siberian larch
In height, many Siberian larch trees reach from 20 to 40 m.But especially impressive is the trunk, which can increase in width from the top to the ground and be from 100 to 180 cm at the very base of the tree.
Siberian larch root system
The root system of this larch is well developed. The main rod is usually pivotal and goes deep into the ground. In addition, larch is capable of developing many adventitious roots. Together, they make trees able to withstand any winds.
When Siberian larch blooms
Flowering in larch, depending on the area of growth, occurs from April to May and lasts about 1.5 weeks. New needles appear at about the same time. Blooming Siberian larch is not so much spectacular as interesting. Male flowers have the appearance of almost invisible yellowish spikelets. They are located most often on annual young shoots. But female bumps grow vertically upward and have an attractive reddish-pinkish tint.
They are evenly distributed over the crown of the tree. During flowering, even small gusts of wind raise light clouds of pollen from male cones above the trees. They get on female bumps, and self-pollination occurs.
Seeds on trees ripen in one season closer to autumn. But they are not formed annually, but with an interval of about once every 2-3 years.
Important! In larches growing in harsh northern conditions, seeds are formed even less often - after 6-7 years. Mature cones become brown, and in the same autumn, small seeds with wings leave the tree. And old empty cones can continue to be in the trees for several more years.
Larch of this species blooms and forms seeds at the age of 15-20 years. And if it grows in cramped or unfavorable conditions, then even later, after 30-40 years.
How long does Siberian larch live
Siberian larch lives on average about 500-700 years, although under favorable conditions its life expectancy can be up to 1000 years. It is a fast growing tree. Already in the first few years of life, it can grow up to 100 cm, in the subsequent annual growth can be up to 50 cm. But after 40 years, the growth rate of the tree slows down. It, as a rule, reaches its present size and begins to grow more in breadth.
Siberian larch in landscape design
Unlike other species, this larch is hardly suitable for small areas. It grows very quickly and reaches an impressive size in adulthood.
But from it you can create compositions in the form of a hedge in combination with other conifers in large gardens and parks.
A Siberian guest will also look good as a solitary solitaire tree, around which you can set up a flower bed of relatively light-loving flowers and shrubs, since the tree's crown is quite transparent.
Useful properties of Siberian larch
Larch is able to significantly improve both the air in which it grows, due to the released phytoncides, and the soil, forming colonies of fungi that decompose organic matter. In addition, almost all parts of the tree have healing properties: from cones with seeds to bark.
The medicinal properties of Siberian larch resin
The gum (or resin) of Siberian larch has long been famous for its healing properties. Collect it during the active growing season of the tree, making notches on the trunk. Up to 16% of essential oil and rosin are obtained from the resin.
Attention! The essential oil has a rich composition and helps to normalize the functioning of the digestive tract and central nervous system, reduces fermentation in the intestine, enhances bile secretion and eliminates inflammatory processes.
In addition to the resin as such, in folk medicine, decoctions from young twigs and extracts from wood of this type of larch are used. They are effective against any viruses, including well to eliminate all flu symptoms. They have anti-edematous effects, restore capillary resistance, and have a beneficial effect on liver function.
In general, larch resin can work wonders in healing:
- gingivitis and tonsillitis;
- inflammation and open wounds;
- poisoning and problems with the gastrointestinal tract;
- rheumatism, gout and other neuralgic diseases;
- diseases associated with the respiratory system.
Recently, you can find on sale chewing sulfur made from the resin of Siberian larch. This natural product, having all the properties of ordinary chewing gum, also has an antiseptic and antitoxic effect on the oral cavity and the entire body. It is useful to chew for the prevention of oral diseases, it can relieve toothache and even reduce the urge to smoke.
With the undoubted benefits of using gum from Siberian larch resin, it can be harmful only in rare cases of an allergic reaction to the aroma of coniferous trees.
The benefits of Siberian larch cones
Cones are often used to obtain medicinal honey. In this case, they are harvested still very green (young) somewhere in late April or May. Honey provides an effective help for any exhaustion: physical or mental, in the treatment of asthma and gastrointestinal diseases.
In addition, for a variety of medicinal purposes, seeds are used that are formed after the flowering of Siberian larch, they are harvested in the fall from mature cones. They contain up to 18% fatty drying oil.
Medicinal properties of Siberian larch needles
Larch needles have always been famous for their high content of ascorbic acid, therefore they were widely used as an antiscorbutic agent. It also contains essential oils.
It can be harvested from trees throughout the summer, but the most favorable period is considered to be the period from late June to early August. It is at this time that the needles accumulate the maximum amount of biologically active substances.
Decoctions and infusions of larch needles can provide real help with vitamin deficiency and hypertension. It is an excellent expectorant, antihelminthic and wound healing agent. In combination with young kidneys, a decoction of pine needles in milk helps with flatulence, kidney stones and chronic bronchitis. Fresh raw materials have the best effect, and when harvesting needles, drying is carried out at a temperature not higher than + 25 ° C.
The benefits of Siberian larch bark
The bark of this species of larch is also rich in composition:
- from 8 to 10% tannins;
- organic acids;
- glycoside coniferin.
It is harvested using felled trees, and thoroughly steamed or boiled before drying to destroy small parasites that may inhabit it. After thorough drying, the larch bark is stored in the refrigerator. Under such conditions, the bark has a rather long shelf life - up to several years.
Larch bark decoction is used for:
- kidney disease;
- diseases of the heart and circulatory system;
- painful and too heavy menstruation;
- intestinal infections;
- headaches and toothaches.
The healing properties of larch sponge
It is the Siberian larch trees that are often chosen by the medicinal tinder fungus as its permanent habitat. The fruit body of this mushroom has enjoyed well-deserved popularity since ancient times. It is harvested during the entire growing season, from spring to autumn, and dried at not too high temperatures.
It is used as a sedative, hemostatic and sweat-removing agent for tuberculosis and other lung diseases. Also used for neurasthenia, diabetes and Graves' disease.
The use of Siberian larch
In addition to being used in medicine, larch is widely used in other economic sectors.
- A persistent red-brown dye is obtained from the bark of the tree.
- Wood has increased strength and special resistance to weathering, especially moisture. Therefore, piles, poles and sleepers, as well as wooden sea vessels, are made from it.
- Due to the release of medicinal phytoncides, larch wood is used for the construction of baths and the creation of various bath utensils.
- The resin is used as rosin in the paint and varnish industry.
Planting and caring for Siberian larch (Larixsibirica)
Larch is an extremely unpretentious tree, therefore, planting and caring for it are not particularly difficult.
There is an opinion that larch trees behave differently in a garden than in natural conditions, they become capricious and unpredictable. But this applies primarily to varietal varieties bred with the help of humans. And a species such as Siberian larch differs from other conifers in many advantages when planting and caring for it:
- even young seedlings are resistant to winter temperature changes, severe frosts and spring or autumn frosts;
- trees are able to survive even in areas with high groundwater levels, where most of the conifers die from root rot;
- seedlings are undemanding to the acidity of substrates;
- show resistance to strong winds and drafts;
- young trees are less affected by rodents and fungal diseases than other conifers;
- grows rapidly (after 5 years it can grow up to 60-100 cm per year).
Seedling and planting plot preparation
Nevertheless, larch of this species is very light-requiring. Even small seedlings will feel good only with an abundance of light. Therefore, the site for planting it must be spacious and unshaded.
It grows and develops best on sod-podzolic soils, but larch trees are picky in this regard and are able to survive almost everywhere. Only clean sand may not work, because even sandy soil contains a certain amount of nutrients.
Attention! It tolerates well the neighborhood of any trees, except for birch and elm, which constitute some competition for its roots.
Like most conifers, larches are quite sensitive to replanting. They do not tolerate the exposure of roots well, therefore, at the age of over 2-3 years, trees are transplanted, only completely preserving an earthen lump on the roots. In this case, even a tree under the age of 15-20 years can be transplanted. The fungal mycorrhiza present on the roots also plays an important role. The older the seedling, the more developed it is, so it is very important not to damage it when planting.
The best period for planting larch is the autumn months, after all the needles have fallen. But it is also allowed to plant seedlings in early spring, before the buds bloom. If several trees are being prepared for planting, then the distance between them during planting should be at least 3-4 m.
Larch is planted in a standard way. First, a hole is dug so that it fits the root system of the prepared seedling. You should not plant a 2-3 year old small tree in a pit measuring 50x50 cm.
The root ball of the seedling is placed in the recess with the earth and the soil is poured on all sides. Lightly tamp and watered. The root collar of the seedling (the place where the trunk transitions to the roots) should be exactly at the soil level.
Watering and feeding
The only thing that this larch can withstand with great difficulty is the summer heat combined with drought. And if mature trees do not need additional watering, then newly planted young larch must be watered regularly, especially at high ambient temperatures.
The soil around the stem should contain moisture all the time, but not be oversaturated with it.
To delay the evaporation of moisture, supply the seedling with additional nutrients, and also retard the development of weeds, mulching of the root zone of the tree is used. For these purposes, you can use coniferous litter, and pine bark, and shells of nuts, and peat, and straw, and just humus. The mulch layer should not be thinner than 5 cm, otherwise it will not be able to delay the growth of weeds.
Fertilizers for larch seedlings are not used in the first year after planting.
Advice! Considering the need of larch in symbiosis with mushrooms, it is recommended to water the young seedlings with water, in which the mushrooms collected in the forest were washed or soaked: boletus, boletus, honey agarics.
You can also pour water under the larch seedlings along with cleanings, worm caps and mushroom legs.
In the second year after planting in spring, the seedlings can be fed with complex fertilizer for conifers. In subsequent years of life, from the moment of the formation of pollen and seeds, larch trees can be fed with potassium-phosphorus fertilizers, dissolving them in water for irrigation at the rate of 50 g per 10 liters of water.
Young shoots of Siberian larch under the age of 5 years are very sensitive to various touches and, moreover, to pruning. Trees develop and grow rather quickly and by themselves in an open, bright place form a regular and beautiful crown shape. Therefore, they need additional pruning.
Only accidentally damaged or dry twigs should be removed.
Preparing for winter
Larch of this species is a very frost-resistant tree. Even burns from the too bright spring sun, to which young branches of other conifers are prone, are not terrible for her. Since the larch is freed from the needles for the entire winter period. And the fast-growing powerful root system provides additional protection from strong winds.
Therefore, even young trees do not require any special shelter for the winter.
Reproduction of Siberian larch
All types of larch are traditionally propagated in two ways: vegetative (cuttings and layering) and generative (seeds).
Cuttings root with great difficulty, even after treatment with root stimulants. The easiest way to propagate larch is by rooting branches that fall to the ground. But this method is also best suited for weeping or creeping species.
Therefore, most often larch of this species is propagated with the help of seeds. Freshly harvested seeds have the best germination, especially if they are left in the open field under the snow for germination since autumn.
To germinate seeds of Siberian larch at home in spring, they need preliminary stratification in the cold for several months. If the seeds are stored for more than a year, then the germination rate can be no more than 10-15%.
Before sowing, they must be soaked for several days in cold water. Seeds germinate at room temperature for 1-2 months.
Important! Trees that have reached the age of two are planted in a permanent place.
Diseases and pests
Like all conifers, although to a lesser extent, larch of this species at a young age is susceptible to fungal diseases. A monthly prophylactic treatment with biofungicides is required: phytosporin, EM preparations.
Of the pests, deciduous miner moths, spiderweb moths, sawflies and mealybugs are especially dangerous. The affected shoots must be removed, and the trees are treated with one of the mineral oil-based insecticides.
Despite the fact that Siberian larch is almost the most widespread tree in Russia, its healing properties are still far from being used in full force. But if there is an opportunity to plant this fast-growing tree next to your home, then you can use its valuable medicinal properties without even resorting to pharmaceutical preparations.
Reviews of Siberian larch
Veronica, 27 years old, Rostov-on-Don
For a long time she suffered from unsolvable problems in the female part. Hormonal drugs were of little help. Accidentally, a friend advised me to use larch dietary supplements in the form of capsules. There, the composition is completely natural. In addition to the treatment, I also saw sap from the same Siberian larch. I didn't even need to use the full course. Analyzes showed that my problem was gone. And from my own feelings I feel that everything is more or less in order.
Elizaveta, 34 years old, St. Petersburg
After the birth of the child, wreaths appeared on my legs and began to noticeably bother me. Since I was not used to using chemical medicines, I immediately started looking for something from herbal preparations. Pretty quickly I found and ordered myself a larch balm. For a full course, it took, however, 4 bottles. But it tastes pleasant, sweetish with a strong coniferous smell. And the veins are almost completely gone, at least they no longer bother me with pain.