Loving the larch
I love the little yellow larch. I love it more because it has so many names – how many do you know? My list is at the bottom of this article but see how many you can come up with before you get there...
The fall colours started with some bright and spectacular reds this year – especially on the shores of the rivers and lakes a little further inland – now most of those reds and oranges are gone, ripped from the trees by the strong winds of late.
[See a collection of photos from around the Digby area at www.digbytrails.ca/fallingfordigby.html ]
Now we are into the brown oaks and beeches, some yellow birches and poplars and the last of the yellow maples. But trailing at the end of the colour parade is a showy little final hurrah, a splash of golden yellow like an exclamation point on the season of fall colours.
The larch is the only conifer native to Nova Scotia that loses all its needles at once and before it drops those needles, they turn a bright almost luminescent green and followed by a deep golden yellow.
I love to paddle the stillwaters and lakes of Digby County this time of year just to look at the larches along the shore. The top of the Wallace Branch is particularly pretty with some tall straight larches in the range of 10 and 15 metres tall. The stillwater on Lake Franklin Brook is also picturesque but the larches there are smaller, more of the twisted expressive variety.
A group of us ran to the look off at the top of the Van Tassel Lake trails this week and the big patch of yellow larches on the swamp that is the source of Bud’s Brook is just about the only colour left on the hills up there.
If you keep your eyes open you will see this beautiful yellow tree everywhere right now. The swamp at the front of the municipality’s property on Haines Lake is full of them and I saw a nice big yellow stand at the start of the road to Southville right where it meets the 340.
What’s your favourite place to admire the larches?
Share some photos with us by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, find me on FB or simply add #FALLingforDIGBY in the comments when you post on FB or Instagram, and I’ll find them and add them to our collection at www.digbytrails.ca/fallingfordigby.html.
Names for the larch
In Latin, the larch that grows in Nova Scotia is called larix laricina.
Tamarack, Hackmatack are both common names, undoubtedly of Aboriginal origin. Many here call it juniper as well, but juniper is actually a totally different plant, a bush actually. Along the same lines, some people refer to hemlock as tree juniper.
Our kind of larch grows right across a big swath of this continent, mostly in the north, even in Alaska and in other places it is called the eastern larch, black larch, red larch and even American larch and Alaskan larch.
In Acadian it is called violon because it does resemble a violin or fiddle in shape, but other French speakers call it mélèze and according to one source online the Mi’kmaw word is apu’tam’kie’jit.
Do you know any other names for larch that I’ve missed?
Jonathan Riley, trails and open space coordinator with the Municipality of the District of Digby