Larchs vs Cedars

Discussion in 'Gymnosperms (incl. Conifers)' started by petejacobsen, Jul 18, 2005.

  1. petejacobsen

    petejacobsen Member

    Messages:
    21
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    I've keyed out several trees as Western Larches (Portland, Oregon area) and had begun to think I knew how to tell a Larch when I saw it - needles in clumps on short stems, droopy leaders.

    Then I discovered that, although not native to our area, there are many "true" cedars around, in particular Deodar Cedar, and they look very much like the larches I've seen.

    My books offer no help distinguishing the two, since they simply say that Cedars aren't native to the area. They may not be native, but they are around in abundance!

    Can anyone give me clues as to how to tell these trees apart? Do you know a site that provides guidance?

    Thanks for your help!
     
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

    Messages:
    20,954
    Likes Received:
    662
    Location:
    WA USA (Z8)
    Cedrus sp. have evergreen needles of heavier substance and deeper coloring than the delicate, ephemeral (deciduous) leaves of larches, as well as distinctive, massive, barrel-like cones. All normal (non-weeping) larches I have seen had erect leaders, whereas some true cedars do and some don't. The cones of larches are often much smaller than those of Cedrus sp., not so dense and heavy. Nor do they shatter upon reaching maturity.
     
  3. jimmyq

    jimmyq Well-Known Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    2,345
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Metro Vancouver, BC, Canada.
    wait till winter, larches wont have any needles on them. :)
     
  4. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

    Messages:
    11,227
    Likes Received:
    410
    Location:
    Britain zone 8/9
    Until then, larches have soft, light green leaves; cedars have hard, somewhat prickly, dark green to blue-green leaves

    If there are any cones on, cones less than 3 cm broad are larch, more than 4 cm broad are cedar

    Edit: just noticed . . .
    That means Deodar Cedar (Cedrus deodara). It is the only one of either genus with a drooping leader (weeping cultivars discounted)
     
  5. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    1,424
    Likes Received:
    23
    Location:
    San Joaquin Valley, California
    Pete, post some photos then we might be able
    to figure out what you are seeing. Keep in mind
    that there are some forms of Cedrus libani that
    were planted in the early to mid 80's in and
    around Portland that have needle bundles that
    can fool people into believing they are Larch
    instead.

    I agree that Larch have much finer needles but
    looking from a distance the needle bundles of
    some forms of Cedrus libani and especially
    Cedrus brevifolia will look more like a Larch
    than a Deodar Cedar will.

    Jim
     
  6. WadeT

    WadeT Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    53
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Federal Way, WA - zone 8
    Larch and Cedars are nothing alike. It's like asking someone to compare apples to oranges. Larch needles are very soft as others have said. The overal look of the tree tends to resemble a fir tree which isn't anything like that of a Deodora.
     
  7. petejacobsen

    petejacobsen Member

    Messages:
    21
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    I'm attaching two photos of a tree that is about 30 miles south of San Jose, California. It was clearly planted - this is an RV park, not a forest. I originally concluded that it was a Western Larch. There are no cones present on the tree or on the ground. I've checked the tree fairly carefully with binoculars looking for one. After reading the responses above, I'm thinking it is a Deodar Cedar.

    As to "its like comparing Apples to Oranges", all of us who have seen and identified both Oranges and Apples (Delicious? Pippin? Gravenstein?), the differences are clear, but if you've only seen a couple of examples without clear knowledge of which they were, it isn't so easy! Maybe you've only seen different kinds of apples!
     

    Attached Files:

  8. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

    Messages:
    20,954
    Likes Received:
    662
    Location:
    WA USA (Z8)
    Definitely Cedrus.
     
  9. WadeT

    WadeT Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    53
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Federal Way, WA - zone 8
  10. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

    Messages:
    11,227
    Likes Received:
    410
    Location:
    Britain zone 8/9
    Hi Wade,

    Make that deodara! :-)
     
  11. WadeT

    WadeT Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    53
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Federal Way, WA - zone 8
    Ehe, got me again. That suffix gives it a Boston or Australian-like accent when spoken.:)
     
  12. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    1,424
    Likes Received:
    23
    Location:
    San Joaquin Valley, California
    I am not trying to be cute but our Deodar
    Cedars can look different here than in Oregon
    and Washington. We can see quite a variance
    in shape and even coloring from one area to
    another, so comparing Deodar Apples to Deodar
    Oranges can apply just with this tree grown
    near San Jose and one grown in Fresno for
    example. A lot will depend on where the
    seedlings were grown initially as the seedlings
    from Oregon nurseries tend to cascade more
    than some of our seedlings will, which tend
    to be more upright and slightly more pyramidal.

    Then there is a form of Blue Atlas that was
    selected out close by in Hayward that can
    look like the shape that this tree does. None
    of our Larch in the inland coastal areas and
    the San Joaquin Valley are native. We do
    not see a lot of cones either on both the
    Larch and Deodar Cedars here. So, Pete,
    you did just fine and keep on asking these
    types of brainteasers to yourself and to us
    if need be. I get fooled down here on some
    of the Conifers I thought I knew pretty
    well myself!

    Jim
     
  13. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

    Messages:
    20,954
    Likes Received:
    662
    Location:
    WA USA (Z8)
    Deodars growing together in same planting can have a variety of growth habits, you don't have to leave a region to see that. Seattle has many of them, including freeway plantings where you can see such variation in close proximity.
     
  14. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    1,424
    Likes Received:
    23
    Location:
    San Joaquin Valley, California
    How many Deodar's look like this one in Seattle
    for shape and color was my point and then I'll
    say, okay, show me a few of them, in advance
    of my next response. It is not like I said there
    weren't any in Seattle in this shape and color
    but I will say this tree is not the norm for shape
    and color in Seattle, in Portland or in Fresno either
    until I know different.

    It seems this tree has not been established yet
    by you or anyone so far that this tree is in fact
    a Deodar Cedar has it?

    Jim
     
  15. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

    Messages:
    20,954
    Likes Received:
    662
    Location:
    WA USA (Z8)
    Cedrus looking like this aren't rare up here, Jim. Remember many are raised from seed.
     
  16. petejacobsen

    petejacobsen Member

    Messages:
    21
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    Jim,
    You asked (I think) if the tree I posted pictures of has been identified as a deodar cedar. Certainly not by me, as I'm definitely not qualified. Someone (awk! I can't look back at the messages while I'm typing the post) said "Definitely Cedrus", but no one said "Definitely Deodar".

    For my part, just realizing it was a cedar has helped me a great deal, and I've found and looked hard at several others that were definitely planted in the Gilroy area. I much appreciate all the responses!

    Pete
     
  17. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

    Messages:
    11,227
    Likes Received:
    410
    Location:
    Britain zone 8/9
    OK, I'll say it - Definitely Deodar!
     
  18. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

    Messages:
    3,511
    Likes Received:
    235
    Location:
    sw USA
    Pardon this intrusion - Pete and others, when you reply to a thread all the posts are below the text box, ordered with the most recent at the top. If you need to refer to posts in the thread while writing a reply, just scroll down.
     
  19. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

    Messages:
    20,954
    Likes Received:
    662
    Location:
    WA USA (Z8)
    Summerlong vernal green of larches really stands out among other conifers. Dawn redwood and baldcypress are similarly colored. In the hand the leaves of these are all markedly less firm than those of evergreen conifers.
     

Share This Page