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The Tamarack


Larix Americana, Michx.

The tamarack or American larch (see illustration, page ' 263) goes farther north than any other tree, except dwarf willows and birches. Above these stunted, broad-leaved trees pure forests of tamarack rise, covering Northern swamps from Newfoundland and Labrador to Hudson Bay and west across the Rocky Mountains, the trees dwindling in size as they approach the arctic tundras, the limit of tree growth. The wood of these bravest of all conifers is a God-send over vast territories where other supply of timber is wanting. The tough roots of the larch tree supply threads with which the Indian sews his birch canoe.

In cultivation the American species is too sparse of limb and foliage to compete with the more luxuriant European larch, yet it is often planted. Its fresh spring foliage is lightened by the pale yellow of the globular staminate flowers and warmed by the rosy tips of the cone flowers. In early autumn the plain, thin-scaled ' cones, erect and bright chestnut-brown, shed their small seeds while the yellow leaves are dropping, and the bare limbs carry the empty cones until the following year.