Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Tamarack Larch, or Tamarack or American Larch (Larix laricina) is a species of larch native to northern North America, mainly in Canada, from eastern Yukon and Inuvik, Northwest Territories east to Newfoundland, and also south into the northeastern United States from Minnesota to northern Pennsylvania; there is also a disjunct population in central Alaska. The name Tamarack is the Algonquian Native American name for the species.
It is a small to medium-size deciduous coniferous tree reaching 10-20 m tall, with light blue-green needle-like leaves 2-3 cm long which turn bright yellow before they fall in the autumn, leaving the pale pinkish-brown shoots bare until the next spring. The cones are the smallest of any larch, only 1-2.3 cm long, with 12-25 seed scales; they are bright red, turning brown and opening to release the seeds when mature, 4-6 months after pollination.
It is very cold tolerant, able to survive winter temperatures down to at least -65°C, and is the northernmost tree in North America, commonly occupying the arctic tree-line at the edge of the tundra. Trees in these severe climatic conditions are smaller than further south, often only 5 m tall. Tamarack is commonly found in swamps, though also occasionally grows on drier sandy soils.
The central Alaskan population, separated from the eastern Yukon populations by a gap of about 700 km, is treated as a distinct variety Larix laricina var. alaskensis by some botanists, though others argue that it is not sufficiently distinct to be distinguished.
The wood is tough and durable, but also flexible in thin strips, and was used by the Algonquian people for making snowshoes and other products where toughness was required. It is also grown as an ornamental tree in gardens in cold regions.
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