Pseudolarix amabilis

golden larch

  • © Richie Steffen / Great Plant Picks

  • © Richie Steffen / Great Plant Picks

  • © Richie Steffen / Great Plant Picks

Outstanding Qualities

The famous plant explorer Robert Fortune first saw this unusual conifer as a container plant in China. He introduced it into cultivation in 1854 and it has been highly regarded ever since. Golden larch (or false larch) is a relatively slow grower, preferring some shelter to best display its long, flattened, soft, needles, which are bright pea-green in summer. Unlike most conifers golden larch is deciduous. In autumn the foliage changes to bright, clear golden yellow. After the peak of color is reached the needles drop quite quickly making for easy and one-time clean up. Or the soft needles can be left in the bed to enrich the soil. Older plants have an open, layered branching pattern that is very elegant. Pseudolarix amabilis produces upright, waxy green cones reminiscent of open rose flowers. Golden larch makes an excellent specimen tree, if you have room for a small grove, it would be breathtaking. Pseudolarix kaempferi is a synonym according to some botanists, the correct name according to others. This species is the only one in its genus.

Quick Facts

Plant Type: pyramidal conifer

Foliage Type: deciduous

Plant Height: 12 ft. 0 in. (3.66 meters)

Plant Width/Spread: 7 ft. 0 in. (2.13 meters)

Plant Height-Mature: 40 ft. 0 in. (12.19 meters)

Plant Width-Mature: 30 ft. 0 in. (9.14 meters)

Hardiness: USDA Zones 5 to 9

Sun/Light Exposure: full sun to light or open shade

Water Requirements: regular watering

Seasonal Interest: autumn color

Colors & Combos

Great Color Contrasts: red, variegated, burgundy

Great Color Partners: dark green, blue

Culture Notes
This elegant but easy-to-grow tree thrives in rich well-drained soil with full sun to light or open shade. It needs regular summer watering to look its best. Keep it out of exposed windy locations and hot spots. Very little pruning is required; in fact, excessive pruning can easily ruin its interesting, layered, branching habit. Consult an experienced pruner or take local classes before attempting to prune.