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Pseudolarix amabilis

Previously known as:

  • Chrysolarix amabilis
  • Pseudolarix kaempferi
Phonetic Spelling
soo-do-LAR-iks a-MABa-lis
Description

The golden larch is a medium-sized, slow-growing, broadly conical, deciduous conifer known for its beautiful texture and seasonal color. This tree grows to a height of 30 to 40 feet and 20 to 40 feet wide in cultivation, but can grow to a height of 120 feet in the wild. It has horizontal branches with drooping branchlets. The needles are soft and light green with bluish-green undersides that transition to a brilliant golden color in the fall for seasonal interest. The needles shed, and the architecture of the tree provides further winter interest. Reddish-brown fruiting cones are about 3 inches long. Resembling true larches of the genus, Larix; but, the golden larch is actually a member of the Pinaceae or pine family. 

It native to coastal mountains of southeastern China.

The genus name, Pseudoalarix, is derived from two Greek words, pseudo, meaning false, and Larix, meaning larch, because of its resemblance to larches. The epithet, amabilis, is translated as lovely.

The golden larch is prefers moist, well-drained, acidic, rich loamy soils in full sun to partial shade. It prefers cool nights and is not particularly tolerant of heat, high humidity, limestone soils, and clay soils. It needs to be protected from strong winds. Requires no pruning.

The golden larch or false larch differs from the true larches by its cone morphology and needle size. The golden larches cones are larger, the scales taper to a point, male catkins appear in clusters, and female cones drop to the ground when the seeds ripen. The golden larch needles are longer and wider than the true larches. 

The golden larch  is an attractive ornamental tree in the landscape; however, it needs a cool nights and large open spaces to thrive as provided in the Pacific Northwest. It is a great choice as a specimen for seasonal interest due to its needled foliage and golden fall color. It may also be used in bonsai.

Seasons of Interest:

Bark:  Winter      Foliage: Spring, Summer, and Fall      Fruits:  Fall

Quick ID Hints:

  • deciduous conifer, broadly conical or pyramidal, 30 to 40 feet tall, and 20 to 40 feet tall
  • reddish-brown, fissured bark on mature trees
  • soft. whorled, deciduous, 2.5 inch, light green needles, blue-green beneath, and golden needles in the fall
  • erect, reddish-brown, 3 inch long, fruiting cones

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  The golden larch has no serious insect or disease issues. 

VIDEO created by Andy Pulte for “Landscape Plant Identification, Taxonomy and Morphology” a plant identification course offered by the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Tennessee.

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscapes:
Bonsai Garden Mountain Ridge Top Garden - North Lawn and Upper Drive Border Mountain Ridge Top Garden - East Lawn and Lower Drive Border Bonsai Garden
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Annesleyana'
    dwarf with weeping branches
  • 'Nana'
    dwarf form
'Annesleyana', 'Nana'
Tags:
#deciduous#conical#needles#slow growing#pyramidal#conifer#showy leaves#low maintenance#fall interest#heat intolerant#humidity intolerant#fall color#landscape plant sleuths course#cone
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Annesleyana'
    dwarf with weeping branches
  • 'Nana'
    dwarf form
'Annesleyana', 'Nana'
Tags:
#deciduous#conical#needles#slow growing#pyramidal#conifer#showy leaves#low maintenance#fall interest#heat intolerant#humidity intolerant#fall color#landscape plant sleuths course#cone
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Pseudolarix
    Species:
    amabilis
    Family:
    Pinaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Furniture, boats, and bridges have been made from the wood. It is mostly used as an attractive ornamental tree in the landscape or used in bonsai.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eastern China
    Wildlife Value:
    Does not attract wildlife.
    Play Value:
    Colorful
    Textural
    Dimensions:
    Height: 30 ft. 0 in. - 40 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 20 ft. 0 in. - 40 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Broad
    Conical
    Erect
    Pyramidal
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Low
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    more than 60 feet
    NC Region:
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4b, 4a, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Length:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Width:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    The fruit cone is ovoid, solitary, erect, and initially green to purple green and have bluish waxy coating. They mature to a reddish-brown, up to 3 inch long, and up to 1.5 inches wide. They mature in one season. The cones scales taper to a point. The seeds are white, ovoid, and 6-7 mm long. They have a seed wing that is light yellow or brownish yellow.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Insignificant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Description:
    The pollen cones are terminal shoots and appear in clusters of 10 to 25. Pollen is shed in April.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Blue
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Soft
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Orange
    Leaf Type:
    Needles
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Whorled
    Leaf Shape:
    Linear
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    The soft linear needled foliage is spirally arranged, light green on the upper surface, and bluish-green on the undersides with two stomatal bands. They are flat, slightly curved to straight, 1.5 to 2.5 inches long, only 2-3 mm wide, whorled, and alternate. The fall color is a brilliant gold or orange yellow.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Brown
    Red/Burgundy
    Surface/Attachment:
    Fissured
    Scaly
    Bark Plate Shape:
    Square
    Bark Description:
    On mature trees, the bark is reddish-brown, rough, fissured and flakes into thick square scales.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    The stems are thin, green and brown.
  • Landscape:
    Design Feature:
    Specimen