Common Name(s): Western Larch
Scientific Name: Larix occidentalis
Distribution: Northwestern North America
Tree Size: 100-180 ft (30-55 m) tall, 3-5 ft (1-1.5 m) trunk diameter
Average Dried Weight: 36 lbs/ft3 (575 kg/m3)
Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .48, .58
Janka Hardness: 830 lbf (3,690 N)
Modulus of Rupture: 13,000 lbf/in2 (89.7 MPa)
Elastic Modulus: 1,870,000 lbf/in2 (12.90 GPa)
Crushing Strength: 7,620 lbf/in2 (52.6 MPa)
Shrinkage: Radial: 4.5%, Tangential: 9.1%, Volumetric: 14.0%, T/R Ratio: 2.0
Color/Appearance: Heartwood ranges from yellow to a reddish brown. Narrow sapwood is yellowish white and is clearly demarcated from the heartwood. Flatsawn sections can exhibit a lot of character and interesting patterns in the growth rings. Knots are common but are usually small.
Grain/Texture: Grain is generally straight. Texture is medium to coarse with a greasy or oily feel.
Endgrain: Small resin canals, infrequent and variable in distribution; solitary or in tangential groups of several; earlywood to latewood transition abrupt, color contrast high; tracheid diameter medium-large. (Growth rings are generally narrower in Western Larch than in Tamarack.)
Rot Resistance: Moderately durable regarding decay resistance.
Workability: Most hand and machine operations produce good results. However, Western Larch is high in silica content and will blunt cutting edges. Also, because of the disparity between the soft earlywood and the hard latewood, sanding can create dips and uneven surfaces.
Odor: No characteristic odor.
Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, wood species in the Larix genus have been reported to cause skin irritation, as well as hives and skin lesions. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.
Pricing/Availability: Western Larch trees grow much larger than the closely related Tamarack, and the species is much more commercially important as well. Western Larch is frequently mixed with Douglas Fir and sold as construction lumber and stamped with the initials “DF-L.” Prices should be moderate.
Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, and is reported by the IUCN as being a species of least concern.
Common Uses: Veneer, plywood, paper (pulpwood), particleboard, glue-laminate beams, construction lumber, and flooring.
Comments: Western Larch is the most commercially important Larix species in North America. It’s also one of the hardest softwoods in the United States, with a Janka hardness of 830 lbf—about as hard as American Elm.