Needles of Larix laricina
on mature trees are attached to the twigs in tight spirals
around short spur branches (but perhaps appearing to beginners
as a fascicle, as suggested in the key). The spur branches
are so distinctive that Larix can be easily identified even
when all the needles have fallen. Needles may be attached
singly on the fastest growing twigs, or on seedlings, but
the great majority of Larix needles will be present
on the conspicuous spur branches.
Larix laricina is the only gymnosperm
species in Wisconsin that is deciduous. Each fall all the
needles turn a distinctive bronze color in October and fall
off. Each spring new bright green leaves develop. Therefore
it is a gymnosperm and a conifer, but it cannot be said
to be an "evergreen".
Larix laricina is a species found
primarily in older bogs and in our wetter swamps in Wisconsin,
often with black spruce (Picea mariana) and the common
ericad bog shrubs Chamaedaphne calyculata and Ledum
groenlandicum. Farther north (Canada) it does very well
in more upland habitats and if tended as a seedling it can
grow well in upland settings here as well.