LARCH, the name of a group of trees belonging to the cone-bearing family (coniferae). There are three North American species: the tamarack, sometimes called hackmatack, the Western larch and the Alpine larch. They are slender, conical trees, varying from fifty to 250 feet in height, with branches which in old trees droop toward the ground. The bark, which is used in tanning and dyeing, is thin and scaly. Leaves or needles are clustered in little sheaths on short spurs.
Flowers of two sorts come from some of the buds, while others produce crowded tufts of needles.
Larch wood, which contains a great deal of resin but does not burn readily, is tough and durable, and timbers of it in old French castles have been found perfectly sound when stones of the building were crumbled and decayed.
It is widely used for telegraph poles, ship masts, railroad ties and fence posts, and yields a large percentage of excellent lumber which is, however, difficult to dry.
About 100,000,000 board feet of tamarack are produced each year in Canada. The most important commercial use of the wood in that country is for making railroad ties.