The larch (Larix) is a deciduous member of the pine family and just before it sheds its needles in autumn, the tree turns yellow. In non-native areas, it appears in a more diminutive form; however, in its native forests spanning Canada, Russia, and Scandinavia–where space isn’t an issue–the larch towers above all else.
The larch tree symbolism can vary depending on the region and culture. The larch tree has long been considered a symbol of strength and endurance, as it can withstand harsh climates and often grows in mountainous regions.
In Celtic symbolism, the larch represents binding and unification, as its flexible branches were often used for weaving. It is also seen as protective, with larch wood being used to build sturdy homes and fences.
In addition, the larch tree symbolizes death and rebirth, as it is one of the few coniferous trees that loses its needles in winter before growing new ones in the spring.
Thus, the larch can serve as a symbol of resistance, renewal, and survival. In holistic medicine, larch extract is believed to boost self-esteem and aid in healing.
Overall, the larch tree symbolizes overcoming obstacles and achieving goals.
Going beyond limits
The Saeligen (European Alpine)
The larch tree was discovered by Julius Caesar when he laid siege to an Alpine fort made out of wood. He noticed that even though the brushwood around the fort was burning, the walls made of larch were not affected. A generation later, Augustus had a palace built in Rome using larch timber.
About Larch Trees
Larix is a genus of approximately ten species of tall, deciduous conifers that belong to the Pine family (Pinaceae). These trees have spreading branches and are mostly located in colder areas near the north pole.
The beautiful European larch (L. decidua, L. europaea) has short needles that grow in rosettes and can be up to 1½in (3.7cm) long. The female cones of the American larch (Larix americana or Larix laricina) are only half this size and have shiny scales without hair whereas Siberian Larsh’s (Larix sibirica) leaves are brightly green with downy scales.
All larches need a cold climate to flourish, but their young shoots Spring frost can damage them.
Larch timber is not as easily combustible or rotted by water in comparison to other trees, yards and parks. The Roman Empire utilized larch mainly for their fleet because it is durable against fire and water.
The sap of a larch tree is sticky like resin and doesn’t harden when heated; making it perfect for glues, pitches, and turpentines used for waterproofing purposes.
Decoctions of larch bark are soothing applications for eczema and psoriasis. Europeans and Native North Americans, such as the Algonquin, Quebec and Iroquois peoples, have used needle or bark infusions to treat urinary tract infections, bronchitis, colds and coughs.
The Bach Flower Remedy not only boosts self-confidence but also helps to clear any obstacles in your way. The tree essence it contains works to bring harmony between heart and mind, as well as will and desire.
Folklore, Myth and Symbol of Larch Trees
According to Alpine legend, the larch is the home of the Saeligen, or “Blessed Ones”. These are graceful otherworldly beings who are kind to people and protect animals. In different parts of the Alps, these maidens have been described as spirit beings dressed in white or silver, dancing under old larch trees and singing sweet music.
According to Siberian tradition, there were two trees present at the creation: a female fir and a male larch. The larch is unique in that it’s one of the few trees that grow in tundra areas.
It’s also considered sacred–seven or more larches growing together is called a grove. Every time an Ostyak person passed a larch grove, they would make an offering.
The Tungus tribe believes that the soul of the shaman is raised in the Tuuru tree, which exists in another world. The rim of his drum is cut from a living larch tree, and this act serves as an honoring of Tuuru.
In every ceremony, during trance journeys, a shaman will plant a ritual “tree”. This “tree” consists of a long pole made from larch wood and they climb to heaven by ascending this “World Tree”.
Larch Tree Symbolism and Meanings
This tree is associated with binding, uniting, protection, strength, endurance, death and rebirth, resistance, and renewal. Larch is also very sacred to the God of Pagan beliefs.
Edward Bach, the pioneer of flower essence, wrote that larch essence is an ideal medicine for those who feel inferior to others around them and lack confidence in themselves.
The larch tree has many benefits: the pitch can be used for waterproofing, the wood is resistant to fire, and it also has historic associations with protection against serpents, fire, and water.
When you want to set a protective boundary with magical help from above, the larch associated with the planet Saturn and the element of spirit make an excellent ally.
The Realm of Heaven
The tree is strongly associated with the positive and loving realm of spirit, ancient pagans employed Larch wood in cremations to help send the transitioning soul to a beautiful and heavenly place.
Although Westerners mostly connect “heaven” to monotheism, nearly every religion and culture have its version of it. For instance, Buddhism has Nirvana, Hinduism has Moksha, and Wicca has Summerland.
What is larch known for?
The larch tree, also known as the European larch or Larix decidua, is most known for its beautiful golden needles that turn a vibrant shade of orange before dropping in the autumn.
However, it is also valued for its durable wood which has been used in construction for centuries. Along with being rot-resistant and waterproof, larch wood has an aesthetic appeal with its unique grain pattern and amber coloration. In traditional medicine, larch even has a history of being used to treat respiratory conditions and improve immunity.
Ultimately, the larch tree offers much more than just a stunning seasonal display – it has long been prized for its practical and medicinal uses.
What is the difference between a Tamarack and Larch?
The tamarack and larch may both be coniferous trees, but they are actually of different species.
While both trees lose their needles in the winter, the tamarack is a member of the pine family and has needle-like leaves that grow in clusters, while the larch belongs to the deciduous family and has flat, single needles. In terms of appearance, the tamarack tends to have a pyramidal shape with scaly bark, while the larch has a more upright shape with smooth bark.
Another important distinction is that the seeds of the tamarack are encased in woody cones, while those of the larch can be found on small stalked fruits known as cedar apples.
Overall, these differences make it easy for experienced forestry professionals to distinguish between a tamarack and a larch in the field.
The larch tree is a symbol of strength, endurance, and binding. It also represents death and rebirth, resistance, and renewal.
These different meanings make the larch tree an ideal symbol for those who are looking to create change in their lives.
If you’re looking for a way to represent your journey of growth and transformation, the larch tree may be the perfect symbol for you.