Ranging from the tree line in the arctic in Alaska and Canada, South to cold bogs in Indiana and Ohio and East to New England and the Maritimes, Tamarack is the farthest North-ranging tree in North America. Able to tolerate the steel-shattering temperature of -79 Fahrenheit, Tamarack is a tree of the Great White North. Tamarack is unusual in that it is a deciduous conifer - In the Summer, it looks like a typical evergreen conifer, but it turns a brilliant gold in the Fall, dropping its needles over the winter.
Tamarack grows anywhere from 25 to 80 feet tall, depending on its growing conditions. In the cold, acidic bogs that it usually grows in, it will be a stunted tree in the lower range; in New England, with the cool, high-moisture atmosphere, it grows to the higher end of the range. Tamarack carries light green needles in bunches, and looks similar to Jack Pine in the summer.
Tamarack is mainly used in the paper pulp industry. The wood is highly rot-resistant, so it does make good fence posts and railroad ties. The tree is an important source of food and shelter for animals of the Boreal Forest - Porcupines will strip and eat the inner bark, and many birds nest in tamaracks. As a rapid grower, Tamarack is a good tree for suburban and rural landscapes in the North. It isn't tolerant of pollution, though, preventing its use in developed city areas.
Tamarack is an excellent tree for boggy or swampy sites, and for areas along streams - Anywhere the soil doesn't dry out too severely. In average loamy soil, tamarack grows very quickly and makes a very attractive tree, especially mixed with evergreen Spruces and Firs.
Because it is fast-growing, Tamarack is a great tree for quick cover in cool, wet microsites. Plant Tamarack in peaty or loamy soil that doesn't dry out in the summer. Zone 5 is about the southern limit for Tamarack, as it isn't tolerant of high summer heat, especially high night temperatures. Tamarack is not at all shade tolerant, and should be planted in full sun.
For the Upper Midwest and New England, it is an excellent and attractive landscape tree. It can be grown in Central Indiana; we wouldn't recommend planting it south of Indianapolis or Columbus Ohio.
We grow our Tamarack in 1 Quart SuperPlugs - These quart pots enable well-branched root systems, and can be planted directly in the ground. Water well for the first year; in a moist site the tree should really take off the first growing season - Tamarack will often grow upwards of 3 feet per year!
|Botanical Name:||Larix laricina|
|USDA Hardiness Zones:||1-5|
|Flower Color:||Purple (Female Cones), Yellow (Male Cones)|
|Habit:||Pyramidal tree, becoming irregular with age|
|Light Exposure:||Full Sun|
|Soil Moisture:||Wet to Moist|
|Soil Texture:||Peat, Loam, Clay Loam|
|Soil PH:||Acidic to Neutral|
|Landscape Uses:||Landscape Tree, Groves, Bog Garden|
|Benefits:||Light Green Summer Color, Fall Color, Tolerant of Wet Soils|
|Ecological Function:||Larval Food Source, Shelter|