Sunday, November 1, 2020

Fun facts about tamaracks

The word tamarack is the Algonquian name for the species and means “wood used for snowshoes.” The Ojibwa word is muckigwatig, meaning swamp tree. Other names include hackmatack, eastern larch, black larch, red larch–the list goes on. How ever you choose to refer to it, Larix laricina is a fascinating tree. Used as an edible (boiled tender spring roots are eaten, the inner bark can be ground for flour, teas can be brewed from the needles and roots) to medicinal (wound treatment, expectorant and fever reducer, to name a few) and as a building material, Native Americans have used tamarack for numerous applications.
Referred to as a ‘deciduous’ conifer, tamarack drop their leaves each fall as day length shortens and temperatures fall. Abundant in bogs and other wet areas, it can tolerate drier soils as well. Individuals can live up to 180 years.
Photo by Melissa Hart, taken at the Paul Smith’s College VIC

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13 Responses

  1. ADKresident says:

    And when they turn golden yellow in late Autumn, one of the prettiest drives is on Oregon Plains Rd. because they beautifully align both sides of road.

  2. Boreas says:

    I love tamaracks. I have planted about a dozen on my property. Unfortunately a buck killed 3 of them using them as a buck rub! Now I have to protect them deer every winter. A small price to pay for a great tree!

    • ADKresident says:

      What do you do to protect them, may I ask?

      • Boreas says:

        I take relatively cheap 5-6 foot coated steel or wooden landscaping stakes (usually 3 or 4) and surround the tree with simple bird netting or heavier netting. Some people use chicken wire. I have to do my tamaracks and any other tree I don’t want killed by deer – usually ~20 trees. Once the trees are tall enough the deer can browse them without killing them. Bucks usually focus on conspicuous saplings under an inch in diameter for rubs. I have a large 10 point buck that can destroy just about anything! Species doesn’t matter – tamaracks, sumacs, forsythias, rhododendrons, crabapples, dogwoods – you name it! If I planted it, they will destroy it. I live at the edge of a hamlet and I can’t discharge a firearm here…

        • ADKresident says:

          Thank you. I was curious, wondering if you had to build a physical barrier or if there was something you applied or sprayed on tree safe that kept the deer at bay.

          • Boreas says:

            Tried that – didn’t work. It works somewhat if they are browsing on foliage, but not the rubs. Even used coyote urine. They didn’t seem to mind – probably can’t go anywhere without smelling coyotes.

            In winter, peppermint oil or Liquid Fence seems to help keep them off the foliage, but needs to be applied frequently. Liquid Fence was recently bought out and now the concentrate is only half the concentration at the same price! It’s the only thing that keeps them off of my posies all summer long.

            • ADKresident says:

              “Liquid Fence” – I never heard of that. I need to look that up! In the summer. I always have deer eating my flowers and I hesitate to use Deer Off. Thx for the info!

              • Boreas says:

                I think it may be similar to Deer Off – rotten eggs, garlic, etc.. Usually apply every 2-4 weeks – depending on the amount of rainfall. I also started adding coyote urine and peppermint oil to that as well. Deer head straight for my echinacea and tall phlox well before they even start to bloom. I will also put it on bushes they like to browse (rhododendron, mountain laurel, ninebark, etc..

      • Dan Ling says:

        We hang chunks of soap in net bags using twist ties. Small trees only need one bag to last all year. Larger trees (8’ +) may need 2-3 bags hung around the foliage. you can also protect the lower branches of larger trees this way. We have to do this with our balsam fir and white cedar in particular, as they appear to be the favorite. Try it – it works.

  3. I love Tamaracks. We had lots on our property but they have been dying off. It looks like a native insect the Eastern Larch is responsible. I have removed at least 40 trees of all sizes over the past 10 years. A real bummer.

    • Boreas says:

      David,

      Eastern Larch is another name for tamarack. What is the insect?

      • Stephen Daniels says:

        I was once asked by a friend why all the “pine” trees in a large field near her house were dying. I told her they were actually tamaracks and that they are one of the few conifers with deciduous leaves (needles) that fall off in fall, and that they weren’t dying. Many people mistakenly believe because tamarack leaves turn yellow and fall off the tree, that it has died.

        • Boreas says:

          I have two bald cypress trees I planted about 10 years ago. They are deciduous as well and look a little like tamaracks. But they tend to turn orange before the needles drop, instead of amber/yellow.

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