Larix griffithii

(Larix griffithii)


Larix griffithii, the Sikkim larch, is a species of larch, native to the eastern Himalaya in eastern Nepal, Sikkim, western Bhutan and southwestern China (Xizang), growing at 3000–4100 m altitude. It is a medium-sized deciduous coniferous tree reaching 20–25 m tall, with a trunk up to 0.8 m diameter. The crown is slender conic; the main branches are level to upswept, the side branchlets pendulous from them. The shoots are dimorphic, with growth divided into long shoots (typically 10–50 cm long) and bearing several buds, and short shoots only 1–2 mm long with only a single bud. The leaves are needle-like, light glaucous green, 2–4 cm long; they turn bright yellow to orange before they fall in the autumn, leaving the pale yellow-brown shoots bare until the next spring. The cones are erect, ovoid-conic, 4-7.5 cm long, with 50-100 seed scales, each seed scale with a long exserted and reflexed basal bract; they are dark purple when immature, turning dark brown and opening to release the seeds when mature, 5–7 months after pollination. The old cones commonly remain on the tree for many years, turning dull grey-black. It is sometimes called the Himalayan larch, not to be confused with Larix himalaica, which is generally known as the Langtang larch. Synonyms include Abies griffithiana J. D. Hooker ex Lindley & Gordon and Larix griffithiana hort. ex Carrière. Trees to the northeast of the range in eastern Bhutan and Xizang have recently been separated as Larix kongboensis (Mill 1999); they differ in smaller cones 3–5 cm long. This taxon has been accepted by the Flora of China but not widely elsewhere.

Taxonomic tree:

Kingdom: Plantae
Class: Pinopsida
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