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Japanese Larch

Larix kaempferi

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Pinaceae (Pine)
Deciduous tree
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
40 metres tall
Gardens, mountains, parks, woodland.

Variable in colour, no petals
The female flowers (cones) reach up to 1 inch in length. Their cream-coloured scales bend outwards and are pink tinged. The cones of the European Larch have straight scales so they do not bend outwards.
The female flowers ripen into green cones. They later turn light brown once fully mature. After the leaves (needles) have fallen, they persist on the tree throughout the winter and remain on the tree for several years.
The light green needle-like leaves reach 4cm in length. They emerge out of their branches in clumps. At the base of each clump is a woody knob in which the leaves grow out from. The leaves turn yellow in autumn before they fall.
Other Names:
Karamatsu, Korean Larch.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Other Information


Larix kaempferi, also known as Japanese larch or Korean larch, is a species of larch tree that is native to Japan and eastern Asia. It is a deciduous conifer, meaning that it loses its needles in the fall and has separate male and female trees. The tree can grow to be quite tall, reaching heights of up to 40 meters. The wood of L. kaempferi is strong and durable and is used in construction, flooring, and furniture. It is also popular as an ornamental tree in gardens and parks. It is known to be more tolerant of heat and humidity than the European larch, L. decidua, and is also more resistant to pests and diseases.


Japanese Larch (Larix kaempferi) is a coniferous tree species native to Japan. It is a popular species for timber and ornamental purposes and is widely cultivated in Japan and other parts of the world.

Physical Characteristics

Japanese Larch is a deciduous tree that can grow up to 40 meters in height and 1 meter in diameter. It has a straight trunk with a narrow crown and a pyramidal shape. The needles are 2-5 cm long, light green in color, and arranged in clusters of 20-30. They turn yellow and fall off in the autumn. The cones are small, 2-4 cm long, and initially purple or green in color, turning brown when ripe.

Habitat and Distribution

Japanese Larch is native to Japan and grows naturally in the mountains of Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu. It grows in well-drained, acidic soils at high altitudes of up to 2,400 meters. It is a hardy species and can withstand extreme temperatures and strong winds.


Japanese Larch is an important commercial timber species in Japan. The wood is strong, durable, and has a fine texture, making it ideal for construction, furniture, and paper production. It is also used for fuel and charcoal production. The tree is also popular as an ornamental plant, especially in parks and gardens. Its attractive pyramidal shape and changing leaf colors make it a favorite among gardeners.


Japanese Larch is not considered a threatened species, and its populations are stable. However, like other tree species, it is vulnerable to habitat loss due to deforestation and climate change. In recent years, efforts have been made to conserve and promote the use of Japanese Larch in forestry and landscape management.

Japanese Larch is a valuable and versatile tree species that has been widely used for centuries in Japan. Its strong, durable wood and attractive appearance make it a popular choice for construction and ornamental purposes. While it is not considered a threatened species, conservation efforts are necessary to ensure its continued use and survival in the face of climate change and habitat loss.

More Information about Japanese Larch

Japanese Larch is a member of the Pinaceae family, which also includes other well-known species such as pine, spruce, and fir. It was first introduced to Europe in the 19th century and has since become a popular species for forestry and landscaping purposes.

In addition to its commercial and ornamental uses, Japanese Larch has also been studied for its ecological benefits. It has been found to have a positive effect on soil quality and water retention, and can help prevent soil erosion. Its leaves are also an important source of food for insects and birds, contributing to the overall biodiversity of forest ecosystems.

However, Japanese Larch is not without its drawbacks. Like many coniferous species, it can be susceptible to fungal diseases such as larch canker, which can cause serious damage to the tree and reduce its value as timber. In addition, its fast growth rate and ability to regenerate quickly can make it an invasive species in certain areas.

Despite these challenges, Japanese Larch remains an important and valuable tree species, both for its commercial and ecological benefits. As with all tree species, it is important to manage its use and cultivation in a sustainable and responsible manner, to ensure its continued survival and contribution to our natural world.

Japanese Larch is a species that has been actively cultivated and researched for many years. In recent years, there has been an increasing interest in the genetic diversity of Japanese Larch and its potential for future breeding programs.

One area of research has been focused on developing improved seed sources for Japanese Larch. The goal of these programs is to select for traits such as growth rate, wood quality, and disease resistance, in order to produce trees that are better adapted to changing environmental conditions and more suitable for commercial forestry.

In addition to breeding programs, there has also been research into the use of Japanese Larch for carbon sequestration and climate change mitigation. Like other trees, Japanese Larch absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and stores it in its wood and other tissues. As such, it has the potential to be used in afforestation and reforestation projects to help offset carbon emissions and reduce the impacts of climate change.

In addition to its ecological and economic benefits, Japanese Larch also has cultural significance in Japan. It has been used in traditional Japanese architecture and carpentry for centuries, and is known for its strength and durability. It is also considered a symbol of longevity and resilience, as it can survive in harsh mountain environments and regenerate quickly after disturbances such as fire or logging.

Japanese Larch has also been the subject of artistic and literary works in Japan. In the poetry of the Edo period (1603-1868), the changing colors of the larch needles were often used as a symbol of the passing of the seasons and the impermanence of life. The tree has also been depicted in various forms of art, including woodblock prints, paintings, and ceramics.

Overall, Japanese Larch is a species that has played an important role in Japanese culture and history, as well as in the country's economy and ecology. Its many uses and benefits make it a valuable species that is worthy of continued research and conservation efforts.


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Distribution Map

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