The Siberian larch or Russian larch (Larix sibirica Ledeb.) Is an arboreal species belonging to the Pinaceae family.
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
L. sibirica species.
The terms are synonymous:
– Larix altaica Fisch.;
– Larix altaica Fisch. ex Godr.;
– Larix altaica Fisch. ex Gordon & Glend.;
– Larix altaica Fisch. ex Parl.;
– Larix archangelica Lawson;
– Larix decidua subsp. sibirica (Ledeb.) Domin;
– Larix decidua var. rossica Henkel & W.Hochst.;
– Larix decidua var. russica (Endl.) Henkel & W.Hochst.;
– Larix decidua var. sibirica (Ledeb.) Regel;
– Larix europaea Middend.;
– Larix europaea var. rossica (Henkel & W.Hochst.) Beissn.;
– Larix europaea var. russica (Endl.) Beissn.;
– Larix europaea var. sibirica (Ledeb.) Loudon;
– Larix pseudolarix Lodd.;
– Larix pseudolarix Lodd. ex Godr.;
– Larix pseudolarix Lodd. ex Gordon & Glend.;
– Larix russica (Endl.) Sabine;
– Larix russica (Endl.) Sabine ex Trautv.;
– Larix sibirica f. pendula Schelle;
– Larix sibirica subsp. archangelica (Lawson) Tzvelev;
– Larix sibirica var. hybrida Y.N.Lee;
– Larix sibirica var. viridis R.E.Schroed.;
– Larix sibirica var. viridis Y.N.Lee;
– Larix sukachevii Dylis;
– Larix sukatschevii Dylis;
– Pinus intermedia Fisch.;
– Pinus intermedia Fisch. ex Turcz.;
– Pinus larix var. intermedia Antoine;
– Pinus larix var. russica Endl.;
– Pinus pseudolarix Steud..
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 sibiric epithet refers to Siberia, the area of origin of these species of Siberia.
Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
The Siberian larch is a conifer native to eastern Russia, from the borders with the Finnish territory to the valley of the Enisej river in central Siberia, where it tends to form hybrid specimens by crossing with the related species Larix gmelinii of eastern Siberia; this hybrid is known as Larix × czekanowskii.
Its habitat is that of the mountainous areas or lowland taiga at an altitude of 500 – 3500 meters as in the Chinese province of Xinjiang.
Larix sibirica is a deciduous conifer with a medium-large growth habit that can reach a height between 20 and 40 meters;
the trunk has a diameter even greater than one meter.
The crown is conical in the young specimens and becomes cylindrical in the adults.
The main branches are located at ground level, while the secondary branches are often hanging down.
The gems are dimorphic, giving rise to macroblasts of 10-50 cm in length covered by numerous gems and brachiblasts just one or two millimeters long and bearing a single gem.
It can be easily distinguished from the European larch (Larix decidua) by the down that covers the twigs (absent in the other species).
The needles are 2–4 cm long and turn a bright yellow color before falling off in the fall, leaving the pale yellowish twigs bare until the following spring.
Male and female cones are born separately on the same plant; pollination occurs in early spring.
Male cones are solitary, yellow, globose to oblong, 4–8 mm in diameter, and produce sailless pollen grains.
Mature female cones are erect, conical-ovoid, 2–4 cm long; green with red hues when immature, tending to brown when ripe; they open by releasing the winged seeds 4-6 months after fertilization. Old cones typically hang from the tree for many years, turning dark gray. Seed production begins at the age of 10-15.
Larix sibirica is a slow-growing, deciduous tree that is used in areas where it grows for local use as a source of materials.
It is a very cold resistant tree that prefers an open, bright and ventilated position in a light or gravelly well drained soil; plants are intolerant to poorly drained soils, but tolerate acidic and sterile soils.
It also grows on slopes and rocky or mountainous and tends to grow better in the north or east than in the west or south.
For its cultivation, pedoclimatic conditions very similar to those of its natural habitat are necessary.
These trees are planted for timber in Asia and Northern Europe, particularly Sweden and Finland. It is also grown in Canada and the northern United States in limited quantities, where it was first planted in 1806. It grows faster than many other conifers in cold regions. When growing in plantations, trees require a lot of space and intensive thinning is always required.
It spontaneously hybridizes with other members of the genus.
Propagation occurs by seed.
Sowing should be done at the end of winter in pots or in seedbeds or in an unheated environment. Cold stratification of one month helps germination; after germination it is better to give the seedlings a light shade for the first year.
When the seedlings are large enough to handle they can be transplanted into the open field, providing them with an effective mulch that protects the soil from freezing and prevents the growth of weeds. However, protection from the cold is recommended for the first winter. The seed remains viable for 3 years.
Customs and Traditions –
Larix sibirica is a plant that colonizes a large area of Siberia where it often grows in small groups mixed with other trees rather than in forest formations.
This plant has no particular medicinal uses while some food use is reported and used for its wood very similar to the European larch and useful for the same purposes.
Writing about Larix sibirica in 1854, Simmonds says: “From the inner bark boiled, mixed with rye flour, and then buried for a few hours in the snow; the robust Siberian hunters prepare a kind of yeast with which they provide the place of common yeast when the latter is destroyed, as often happens, by intense cold. The bark is almost as valuable as oak bark. From the inner bark the Russians make fine white gloves, not inferior to those of the most delicate chamois, while they are stronger, fresher and more pleasant to wear in summer ”.
Its wood, which is firm, heavy and durable, is used in construction (such as in traditional log houses), railway sleepers, veneers and as a source of pulp for paper.
The wood is very resistant to mold, which is why it is used for the production of railway poles and sleepers.
The bark is a commercial source of tannin in Northern Europe; this on a basis of humidity of 10%, contains 21.2% of tannin.
Preparation Method –
Larix sibirica is a conifer that is used, even in its natural state, mainly for its timber.
It is grown for the same purposes in other regions, in addition to the native ones, especially for its timber.
Some populations of north-eastern Asia also used the bark of this plant for food and for some artifacts.
– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– GBIF, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
– 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.