This section is from the book "Sub-Alpine Plants Or Flowers Of The Swiss Woods And Meadows", by H. Stuart Thompson. Also available from Amazon: Sub-Alpine Plants: Or, Flowers of the Swiss Woods and Meadows.
Larch. Leaves fascicled, deciduous. Seeds winged.
A tree sometimes attaining a height of 160 feet. Leaves, or needles, in fascicles of 20-30, slightly channelled, deciduous, bright green, turning yellow-ochre in autumn. Cone ovoid, erect, reddish purple when young, grey-brown when mature, 3-4 cm. long, with persistent scales.
This most useful timber tree reaches 2400 m. (7870 feet) in Switzerland and the Western Alps - the extreme limit of trees, and is almost totally absent from the Jura and sub-Alps. Very fine specimens can be seen just above Saas Fee in Switzerland.
Eastern, Central, and Western Alps. Central Europe, Siberia. Elsewhere planted.
On the Yen-e-say River Henry Seebohm tells us the Larch and Birch extend further than any other trees, viz. to lat. 69 1/2o, and the Spruce comes next.1
In 1910 a book on Tree Limits in the Eastern Alps was published by Dr. Richard Marek2 in which a table was given which shows some of Reiner's results compared with Marek's, which were largely based on already published maps and literature. The table is as follows:
Upper limit of trees, Kerner (metres).
Limit of forest, Marek (metres).
Central Alps (Ortler).
2212 . .
„ Eastern Tyrol, Salzburg
Northern Tyrolese Limestone Alps
South Tyrolese Alps
North-Eastern Limestone Alps
South-Eastern ,, ,,
Average difference 82 metres.
Trees or shrubs with short, linear, evergreen leaves. Flowers mostly dioecious. Catkin very small, with imbricated scales at the base; the males ending in a cluster of stamens; the females consisting in a single erect ovule with a small cup-shaped disk round its base. Fruit a hard seed, partly embedded in a pulpy, berry-like cup.
A small genus, extending round the northern hemisphere.
A dark, evergreen, much-branched tree, with thick trunk and hard wood, attaining a great age. Leaves not an inch long, inserted all round the branches, but spreading in one plane in two opposite rows, convex and shining on the upper side. Catkins very small, in the axils of the leaves. Fruits small, but conspicuous by their bright, pinkish red, juicy cups.
1 Henry Seebohm, Siberia in Asia.
2 Marek, Waldgrenzstitdien in den Oesterreichischen Alpen.
Rocks and limestone cliffs and thickets in the plains and mountain region. April, May.
Fruit in August and September. In Switzerland spread over all the geological subsoils in coniferous and ordinary forests; in the hills and sub-Alps up to 1400 m. (Schinz) in the Jura and valley of the Rhone and in Tessin.
Central Europe, mountains of Southern Europe, extending northward to Scandinavia and eastward to the Caucasus and mountains of Central and Northern Asia; Algeria.
Probably native in England on chalk and limestone. In Kingley Vale, near Chichester, there is perhaps one of the finest examples in Europe of a nearly pure Yew-wood.1