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Etching of larch tree
MFA # 1984.156


Any of several deciduous conifer trees of the genus Larix, most often found in the mountainous regions of southern and central Europe, North America and parts of Asia. The straight, tall, larch trees have short, needle-like leaves that turn yellow and drop in the fall. Larch wood is moderately heavy, durable and has a fine, uniform texture with a straight grain. While the wood is occasionally used for furniture, flooring, and cabinetry, it is more often used for telephone poles, posts, and railroad ties. The resin sap from larch trees is sold as Venice turpentine and larch Balsam.

See also Eastern tamarack, and Western larch.

Forest of larch trees
Siberian larch Larix sibirica

Synonyms and Related Terms

Larix; tamarack; hackmatack; Modřín (Ces.); Lærk (Dan.); Lärchen (Deut.); mélèze (Fr.); larici (It.); lariks (Ned.); modrzew (Pol.); larix (Port.); Lärkträd (Sven.); alerce (Esp.); laricio (Port.)

Physical and Chemical Properties

Heartwood is reddish brown. Annuals rings are distinct. Density = 30-40 ppcf

Paper fiber type: Softwood. Using transmitted light microscopy, fibers are identified by the presence of many piceoid pits (3-4+ across). Since this is an abrupt transition softwood, a distinct difference between early and late wood fibers can be seen. Appearance with Graff "C" stain: pale pink, varies with pulping and bleaching. Average dimensions of fibers: length 5mm, width 40-50μm. Common pulping method: kraft and sulfite.

Additional Images

Resources and Citations

  • F. H. Titmuss, Commercial Timbers of the World, The Technical Press Ltd., London, 1965 Comment: 30-40 ppcf
  • Dictionary of Building Preservation, Ward Bucher, ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York City, 1996
  • Western Pine Association, Portland, Oregon: air-dry weight = 36 pcf
  • Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia, Douglas M. Considine (ed.), Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1976
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998
  • CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, Robert Weast (ed.), CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, v. 61, 1980 Comment: density=31-35 ppcf (0.50-0.56 g/cm3)
  • Marja-Sisko Ilvessalo-Pfäffli. Fiber Atlas: Identification of Papermaking Fibers (Springer Series in Wood Science). Springer, 1995.
  • Walter Rantanen. "Fiber ID Course." Integrated Paper Services. June 2013. Lecture.

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