Best grown in moist, gravelly loams in full sun. Tolerant of light shade, but intolerant of full shade. Also intolerant of dry soils and city pollutants. Best performance is in temperature conditions that mirror its native habitat, namely, cool summers and cold winters. Often performs poorly in the hot and humid conditions of the St. Louis area.
Although it looks like a needled evergreen in summer, European or common larch is a deciduous conifer. It is a large tree that will grow to 60-100’ tall with a pyramidal shape, horizontal branching and drooping branchlets. Shape becomes broader and more irregular with age. It is perhaps best noted for its soft green foliage that turns golden yellow in fall before dropping. Needles (to 1.5” long) appear in tuft-like clusters. Erect reddish brown cones (to 1.25”) are covered with brown hairs. Bark on mature trees is scaly, furrowed and reddish-brown. This is an important timber tree in Europe. It is native to cool mountainous regions from the Alps to the Carpathians. Other deciduous conifers include dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides), bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) and ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba).
Potential insect pests include larch case-bearer, aphids, larch sawfly, tussock moth and Japanese beetle. Potential disease problems include needle cast, needle rust and canker.
Common larch needs a large space in which to grow. It is commonly planted as an ornamental in the northern U. S. and Canada. It is not recommended for the St. Louis climate.