The warm glow of tamarack

By the end of October, most leaves have fallen. The red, orange yellow and emerald have disappeared, leaving a dull landscape. But wait! What is that golden yellow display which has appeared among the spruce trees just north of town?

It’s the tamarack (or larch) trees, whose needles have changed from green to yellow.

In the summer, the leaves – which are flat, pale green needles in clusters on elongated twigs – blend in with the spruce, and are hardly noticed.

This tree is the only cone-producing tree in our area that changes colour and sheds its needles, usually in the last two weeks of October.

Much of our district took on a golden glow this fall, thanks to tamarack trees, which turn bright yellow before dropping their needles. – Henry Miller photo

Tamarack grows in low places, like muskegs and swamps, although some do grow in higher land. It produces durable wood, suitable for posts, poles and structural timber.

Most plants have insects that feed upon them. When the numbers of these insects soar, many plants die.

Tamarack trees also have an insect – the Eastern Larch Beetle, whose population has increased over the last two to three years. These beetles eat the sap in the inner bark. Although many trees have died, most have survived, so there are enough to light up a dull fall.