The Potanin Larch or Chinese Larch (Larix potaninii Batalin) is an arboreal species belonging to the Pinaceae family.
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
L. potaninii species.
The terms are synonymous:
– Larix potaninii var. macrocarpa Y.W.Law ex C.Y.Cheng et al .;
– Pinus chinensis Voss.
Within this species, the following varieties are recognized:
– Larix potaninii var. chinensis (Beissn.) L.K.Fu & Nan Li – present in southern Shaanxi (China);
– Larix potaninii var. himalaica (W.C.Cheng & L.K.Fu) Farjon & Silba – present in an area between southern Tibet and Nepal;
– Larix potaninii var. macrocarpa Y.W.Law – present in southwestern Sichuan and northwestern Yunnan (China);
– Larix potaninii var. potaninii – present from eastern Tibet to central China.
The term Larix comes from the Latin name of the larch, assonant with the Greek term λᾶρός láros pleasant, referring to the aroma.
The specific epithet potaninii is in honor of the Russian botanist Grigorii N. Potanin (Григорий Николаевич Потанин, 1835-1920), who collected and studied species in western China in the 1880s.
Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Larix potaninii is a conifer native to an area between eastern and southern Tibet and China: present in the provinces of southern Gansu, southern Shaanxi, western Sichuan and northwestern Yunnan.
Its habitat is that of areas at altitudes between 2,350 and 4,300 m above sea level, on acid soils of the podzol type, where the climate is cold and annual rainfall varies from 800 to 2,000 mm. The associated trees in these forest systems are mainly conifers including Abies, Picea, Tsuga, Juniperus, Cephalotaxus, and Taxus species.
Larix potaninii is a conifer that reaches a height of up to 50 m, with a trunk with a diameter of 100 cm.
The bark is gray or gray-brown, smooth, which becomes rough and longitudinally fissured on old trees.
The crown is conical, short, horizontal branches.
The long and slender shoots are hanging, red-brown or purple-brown in color, hairless or slightly hairy, which turn gray after the first year. The short shoots are 3-8 mm in diameter, densely covered with yellow-brown hairs at the apex; brown or dark brown winter buds, resinous, shiny, ovoid.
The leaves are 12-35 mm long, 1-1.5 mm broad, prominently keeled on both sides so as to appear 4-sided, with the apex pointed.
Seed cones are cylindrical to ovoid in shape, 2.5-7.5 × 1.5-3.5 cm when ripe, red or purple when young, ripen to an intense purple, turning to light gray-brown ; sessile.
The seed flakes (35-90), slightly convex, 0,8-1,6 × 0,8-1,1 cm, obtuse or sometimes notched apex; bracts often extended, brown-purple, oblong-lanceolate, acute or acuminate.
The seeds are light brown with purple spots, obliquely obovoid, about 3 mm long with a 6 mm wing.
Pollination occurs from April to May and seed maturity in October.
The other varieties are distinguished according to the following characters.
– Var.potaninii: dark brown or dark gray seed flakes, wider than long. Long shoots of the first year in shades of brown; seed cones 3.5-8 cm long, 1.5-3.5 cm wide when the cone is fully open.
– Var. Chinensis: dark brown or dark gray seed scales, wider than long. Short shoots 3-4 mm in diameter, yellow, densely pubescent; shoots of the first year in shades of yellow; seed cones 2.5-5 cm long, 1.5-2.8 cm wide when fully open; seed flakes streaked on the lower surface.
– Var. Himalaica: gray or yellow-gray seed scales, longer than wide. Seed cones up to 6.5 cm long with mucronate cuspidate bracts. Young shoots of yellowish orange color.
Larix potaninii is present in an area that includes Nepal; East and South of Tibet; and China: South Gansu, South Shaanxi, West Sichuan and North West Yunnan, at altitudes between 2,350 and 4,300 m, on acid podzol soils.
In this area, the climate is cold, rainfall is between 800 and 2,000 mm / year, so the plant grows more poorly in humid low-altitude forests, especially along streams. It also forms populations at higher altitudes, especially on humid soils, growing best above 2500 m and up to the treeline.
This conifer prefers an open and ventilated location in a light or gravelly well-drained soil; the plants are intolerant to poorly drained soils, but tolerate acidic and sterile soils and can grow on rocky or mountainous slopes and slopes.
This species is very cold hardy when completely dormant.
The species is cultivated for the use of timber in Asia and is also used for afforestation; it easily hybridizes with other members of its genus and propagates by seed.
Sowing should be done at the end of winter in pots or in seedbeds in an unheated greenhouse and the cold stratification of one month helps germination.
It is recommended to give the seedlings a light shade for the first year.
The transplanting of young seedlings should be done in the summer, taking care to provide them with an effective mulch that does not cause weeds to grow and preferably a winter protection for their first year. The seed remains viable for 3 years.
Customs and Traditions –
The Larix potaninii, known by the names of: 红 杉 hong shan (Chinese), Chinese larch, for the var. himalaica, Langtang larch, 喜马拉雅 红 杉 Xu mi hong shan (Chinese) is a conifer on which some authors have different opinions on its systematics.
However, the differentiation of varieties still needs to be subjected to more rigorous testing and comparison.
This plant is used for its timber which is used for construction, railway sleepers and furniture and the bark produces tannins.
The species is also used for reforestation.
Wood is strong, heavy and durable.
In general it is a plant that represents an important resource for China.
Preparation Method –
Larix potaninii is a plant that is mostly used for its timber while there are no known uses of food or medicine.
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– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– GBIF, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
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– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.
Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not represent in any way a medical prescription; therefore no responsibility is taken for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.