"On the fir and larch grows what is called stelis in Euboea and hyphear in Arcadia."
The oak requires shelter in the early stages of growth; in England the Scotch pine is thought best for this purpose, though Norway spruce answers as well on suitable ground, and larch and other trees are sometimes substituted.
All chlorophyll plants require light, but in very different degrees, as exemplified even in the United Kingdom by the shade-bearing beech and yew contrasted with the light-demanding larch and birch; and as with temperature so with light, every plant and even every organ has its optimum of illumination.
The seriousness of the damage done is illustrated by the ravages of the larch disease, apple canker, &c.
In places suited to its growth it seems to flourish nearly as well as in the woods of Norway or Switzerland; but as it needs for its successful cultivation as a timber tree soils that might be turned to agricultural account, it is not so well adapted for economic planting in Britain as the Scotch fir or larch, which come to perfection in more bleak and elevated regions, and on comparatively barren ground, though it may perhaps be grown to advantage on some moist hill-sides and mountain hollows.
On the high plateau the larch predominates over all other species of conifers or deciduous trees; the wide, open valleys are thickly planted with Betula nana and B.
This same character is also exhibited by the bottoms of the broad valleys, while the more elevated and hilly portions of the territory, especially on their northern slopes, are covered with larch, cedar, pine and deciduous trees belonging to the Siberian flora; where the forests fail they are marshy or assume the character of Alpine meadows - e.g.
The tree, as with the rest of the fir-tribe, except the larch, is evergreen; new leaves are developed every spring, but their fall is gradual.
Slope of the Cascades the red fir ceases to be the dominant tree, and between this elevation and the region of perpetual snow, on a few of the highest peaks, rise a succession of forest zones containing principally: (1) yellow pine, red and yellow fir, white fir and cedar; (2) lodgepole pine, white pine, Engelmann spruce and yew; (3) subalpine fir, lovely fir, noble fir, Mertens hemlock, Alaska cedar and tamarack; (4) white-bark pine, Patton hemlock, alpine larch and creeeping juniper.
In the eastern part of the Okanogan Highlands there is some western white pine, and here, too, larch is most abundant.
The mountain valleys are covered with little except grasses; on the higher parts of the mountains there are barren rocks or only a scant growth of timber; but many of the lower mountain slopes, especially those along the western border, are clothed with heavy timber, ponderosa pine, lodgepole pine, Douglas-fir and western larch being the principal species.
Other species include - western red cedar, Engelmann spruce, alpine fir, whitebark pine, limber pine, alpine larch and occassionally western white pine.
Most of the pine that formerly grew on the Archean at the northern fringe of the settlements has been cut, but the lumberman is still advancing northwards and approaching the northern limit of the famous Canadian white pine forests, beyond which spruces, tamarack (larch) and poplar are the prevalent trees.
LARCH (from the Ger.
Larix), a name applied to a small group of coniferous trees, of which the common larch of Europe is taken as the type.
When standing in an open space, the larch grows of a nearly conical shape, with the lower branches almost reaching the ground, while those above gradually diminish in length towards the top of the trunk, presenting a very symmetrical form; but in dense woods the lower parts become bare of foliage, as with the firs under similar circumstances.
The larch abounds on the Alps of Switzerland, on which it flourishes at an elevation of 5000 ft., and also on those of Tirol and Savoy, on the Carpathians, and in most of the hill regions of central Europe; it is not wild on the Apennine Branchlet of Larch (Larix europaea).
The Siberian larch has smooth grey bark and smaller cones, approaching in shape somewhat to those of the American hackmatack; it seems even hardier than the Alpine tree, growing up to latitude 68°, but, as the inclement climate of the polar shores is neared, dwindling down to a dwarf and even trailing bush.
The larch, from its lofty straight trunk and the high quality of its wood, is one of the most important of coniferous trees; its growth is extremely rapid, the stem attaining a large size in from sixty to eighty years, while the tree yields good useful timber at forty or fifty; it forms firm heartwood at an early age, and the sapwood is less perishable than that of the firs, rendering it more valuable in the young state.
The only drawback to these good qualities is a certain liability to warp and bend, unless very carefully seasoned; for this purpose it is recommended to be left floating in water for a year after felling, and then allowed some months to dry slowly and completely before sawing up the logs; barking the trunk in winter while the tree is standing, and leaving it in that state till the next year, has been often advised with the larch as with other timber, but the practical inconveniences of the plan have prevented its adoption on any large scale.
When well prepared for use, larch is one of the most durable of coniferous woods.
It is much employed for house-building; most of the picturesque log-houses in Vaud and the adjacent cantons are built of squared larch trunks, and derive their fine brown tint from the hardened resin that slowly exudes from the wood after long exposure to the summer sun; the wooden shingles, that in Switzerland supply the place of tiles, are also frequently of larch.
It answers well for fence-posts and river piles; many of the foundations of Venice rest upon larch, the lasting qualities of which were well known and appreciated, not only in medieval times, but in the days of Vitruvius and Pliny.
A peculiarity of larch wood is the difficulty with which it is ignited, although so resinous; and, coated with a thin layer of plaster, beams and pillars of larch might probably be found to justify Caesar's epithet " igni impenetrabile lignum "; even the small branches are not easily kept alight, and a larch fire in the open needs considerable care.
Yet the forests of larch in Siberia often suffer from conflagration.
When these fires occur while the trees are full of sap, a curious mucilaginous matter is exuded from the half-burnt stems; when dry it is of pale reddish colour, like some of the coarser kinds of gum-arabic, and is soluble in water, the solution resembling gumwater, in place of which it is sometimes used; considerable quantities are collected and sold as " Orenburg gum "; in Siberia and Russia it is occasionally employed as a semi-medicinal food, being esteemed an antiscorbutic. For burning in close stoves and furnaces, larch makes tolerably good fuel, its value being estimated by Hartig as only one-fifth less than that of beech; the charcoal is compact, and is in demand for iron-smelting and other metallurgic uses in some parts of Europe.
In the trunk of the larch, especially when growing in climates where the sun is powerful in summer, a fine clear turpentine exists in great abundance; in Savoy and the south of Switzerland, it is collected for sale, though not in such quantity as formerly, when, being taken to Venice for shipment, it was known in commerce as " Venice turpentine."
Real larch turpentine is a thick tenacious fluid, of a deep yellow colour, and nearly transparent; it does not harden by time; it contains 15% of the essential oil of turpentine, also resin, succinic, pinic and sylvic acids, and a bitter extractive matter.
The bark of the larch is largely used in some countries for tanning; it is taken from the trunk only, being stripped from the trees when felled; its value is about equal to that of birch bark; but, according to the experience of British tanners, it is scarcely half as strong as that of the oak.
The young shoots of the larch are sometimes given in Switzerland as fodder to cattle.
The larch, though mentioned by Parkinson in 1629 as"nursed up " by a few " lovers of variety " as a rare exotic, does not seem to have been much grown in England till early in the 18th century.
The cultivation of the tree rapidly spread, and the larch has become a conspicuous feature of the scenery in many parts of Scotland.
The larch of Europe is essentially a mountain tree, and requires not only free air above, but a certain moderate amount of moisture in the soil beneath, with, at the same time, perfect drainage, to bring the timber to perfection.
Where there is complete freedom from stagnant water in the ground, and abundant room for the spread of its branches to light and air, the larch will flourish in a great variety of soils, stiff clays, wet or mossy peat, and moist alluvium being the chief exceptions; in its native localities it seems partial to the debris of primitive and metamorphic rocks, but is occasionally found growing luxuriantly on calcareous subsoils; in Switzerland it attains the largest size, and forms the best timber, on the northern declivities of the mountains; but in Scotland a southern aspect appears most favourable.
The best variety for culture in Britain is that with red female flowers; the light-flowered kinds are said to produce inferior wood, and the Siberian larch does not grow in Scotland nearly as fast as the Alpine tree.
The larch is raised from seed in immense numbers in British nurseries; that obtained from Germany is preferred, being more perfectly ripened than the cones of home growth usually are.
The larch is said not to succeed on arable land, especially where corn has been grown, but experience does not seem to support this view; that against the previous occupation of the ground by Scotch fir or Norway spruce is probably better founded, and, where timber is the object, it should not be planted with other conifers.
On the Grampians and neighbouring hills the larch will flourish at a greater elevation than the pine, and will grow up to an altitude of 1700 or even 1800 ft.; but it attains its full size on lower slopes.
The growth of the larch while young is exceedingly rapid; in the south of England it will often attain a height of 25 ft.
The annual increase in girth is often considerable even in large trees; the fine larch near the abbey of Dunkeld figured by Strutt in his Sylva Britannica increased 22 ft.
In the south of England, the larch is much planted for the supply of hop-poles, though in parts of Kent and Sussex poles formed of Spanish chestnut are regarded as still more lasting.
The best month for larch planting, whether for poles or timber, is November; larches are sometimes planted in the spring, but the practice cannot be commended, as the sap flows early, and, if a dry period follows, the growth is sure to be checked.
The thinnings of the larch woods in the Highlands are in demand for railway sleepers, scaffold poles, and mining timber, and are applied to a variety of agricultural purposes.
The young seedlings are sometimes nibbled by the hare and rabbit; and on parts of the highland hills both bark and shoots are eaten in the winter by the roe-deer; larch woods should always be fenced in to keep out the hill-cattle, which will browse upon the shoots in spring.
The " woolly aphis," " American blight," or " larch blight " (Eriosoma laricis) often attacks the trees in close valleys, but rarely spreads much unless other unhealthy conditions are present.
The larch suffers from several diseases caused by fungi; the most important is the larch-canker caused by the parasitism of Peziza Willkommii.
Considerable quantities of larch timber are imported into Britain for use in the dockyards, in addition to the large home supply.
For the landscape gardener, the larch is a valuable aid in the formation of park and pleasure ground; but it is never seen to such advantage as when hanging over some tumbling burn or rocky pass among the mountains.
A variety with very pendent boughs, known as the " drooping " larch var.
The bark of the larch has been introduced into pharmacy, being given, generally in the form of an alcoholic tincture, in chronic bronchitic affections and internal haemorrhages.