Pines of three species, junipers, larches, oaks, maples, willows and the Thuja Orientalis have been identified.
The chestnut covers considerable areas in Prigord, Limousin and Beam; resinotis trees (firs, pines, larches, &c.) form fine forests in the Vosges and The indigenous fauna include the bear, now very rare but still found in the Alps and Pyrenees, the wolf, harbouring chiefly in the Cvennes and Vosges, but in continually decreasing areas; the fox, marten, badger, weasel, otter, the beaver in the extreme south of the Rhne valley, and in the Alps the marmot; the red deer and roe deer are preserved in many of the forests, and the wild boar is found in several districts; the chamois and wild goat survive in the Pyrenees and Alps.
The firs are distinguished from the pines and larches by having their needle-like leaves placed singly on the shoots, instead of growing in clusters from a sheath on a dwarf branch.
On the French Alps a sweet exudation is found on the small branchlets of young larches in June and July, resembling manna in taste and laxative properties, and known as Manna de Briancon or Manna Brigantina; it occurs in small whitish irregular granular masses, which are removed in the morning before they are too much dried by the sun; this manna seems to differ little in composition from the sap of the tree, which also contains mannite; its cathartic powers are weaker than those of the manna of the manna ash (Fraximus ornus), but it is employed in France for the same purposes.
In Germany a fungus (Polyporus Laricis) grows on the roots and stems of decaying larches, which was formerly in esteem as a drastic purgative.
In Scotland the date of its introduction is a disputed point, but it seems to have been planted at Dunkeld by the 2nd duke of Athole in 1727, and about thirteen or fourteen years later considerable plantations were made at that place, the commencement of one of the largest planting experiments on record; it is estimated that 14 million larches were planted on the Athole estates between that date and 1826.
The seeds are sown in April, on rich ground, which should not be too highly manured; the young larches are planted out when two years old, or sometimes transferred to a nursery bed to attain a larger size; but, like all conifers, they succeed best when planted young; on the mountains, the seedlings are usually put into a mere slit made in the ground by a spade with a triangular blade, the place being first cleared of any heath, bracken, or tall herbage that might smother the young tree; the plants should be from 3 to 4 ft.
Some larches in Scotland rival in size the most gigantic specimens standing in their native woods; a tree at Dalwick, Peeblesshire, attained 5 ft.
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.
Another disease which is sometimes confused with that caused by the Peziza is " heart-rot "; it occasionally attacks larches only ten years old or less, but is more common when the trees have acquired a considerable size, sometimes spreading in a short time through a whole plantation.
The leaves are short, thicker and more rigid than in any of the other larches; the cones are much larger than those of the hackmatacks, egg-shaped or oval in outline; the scales are of a fine red in the immature state, the bracts green and extending far beyond the scales in a rigid leaf-like point.
It is the largest of all larches and one of the most useful timber trees of North America.
The best known and by far the largest division of the Gymnosperms is that of the cone-bearing trees (pines, firs, cedars, larches, &c.), which play a prominent part in the vegetation of the present day, especially in the higher latitudes of the northern hemisphere; certain members of this class are of considerable antiquity, but the conifers as a whole are still vigorous and show but little sign of decadence.
The mountain forests consist chiefly of firs, Free Towns pines and larches, but contain Lbeck also silver firs, beeches and Bremen oaks.
On the lawn near the cathedral stand two of the earliest larches grown in Great Britain, having been introduced from Tirol by the 2nd duke in 1738.