09 Can Larch Make It?!

A small group of researchers and industry leaders are exploring the viability of hybrid larch in the Northeast by searching out long forgotten stands.

Benefits of Larch:

  • Grows in 20 to 30 year cycles, equivalent to Southern Yellow Pine and coastal Douglas Fir and has the potential to act as a nurse crop for oak and other hardwoods, not to mention other plants.

  • Grows well on marginal lands that fail to support other, more sensitive, species. Because it drops its needles every fall, and the nutrients from those needles are absorbed into the soil, hybrid larch improves the soil where it grows over time.

  • The species is especially strong, comparable to spruce. It doesn’t deteriorate easily, and so is ideal for use in decking and greenhouses.

  • Larch grows straight and the trees produce few branches when grown together. Because of this and because it sheds its needles in the fall, its propagation could play a role in what climate scientists call the “albedo effect”, a term that refers to the ability of surfaces to reflect sunlight back into the atmosphere. Light surfaces reflect sunlight (good for the environment) and dark surfaces absorb it (bad for the environment.) In larch stands, the winter sun reflects on the snow, creating potentially positive effects from a climate change standpoint.

Music credit:


French-Canadian fiddle tunes off the Alan Lomax recordings from the Library of Congress

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