This section is from the book "Handbook Of Hardy Trees, Shrubs, And Herbaceous Plants", by W. Botting Hemsley. Also available from Amazon: Handbook of hardy trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants.
Deciduous trees with needle-shaped, scattered, and fascicled leaves, lateral male catkins, and small erect cones with thin persistent scales. About eight or ten species are known, found in Europe, Asia and North America. The name was applied by the ancients to the European species.
1. L. Europaea. Common Larch. - This species is now so extensively planted for use as well as ornament, that in many districts it forms a conspicuous feature of woodland scenery. In Spring, when it puts forth its bright green foliage, it is highly attractive, but it soon assumes a more sombre tint, and should therefore be sparingly planted for ornamental purposes. Some of the varieties are worth noticing, especially pendula, a form with slender drooping branches; and glaiica, with decidedly glaucous foliage.
There are several other species in cultivation, but all of them are rare, and likely to continue so; for none of them surpass, or perhaps even equal, the common species. L. Americana, Black Larch, and L. occidentalism are American species. There is a variety of the former in gardens under the name micro-ca/rpa, from its very small cones. L. Griffithiana, from Sikkim, is an irregularly branched tree whose foliage changes to a bright red towards Autumn, and whose cones are double the size of those of the common Larch. L. Dahurica and L. Ledebourii are Siberian species with extremely small cones; and L. leptolepis is a Japanese species, remarkable for the very numerous thin reflexed scales of the small cones.
Pseudolarix Kcempferi, a deciduous tree with clustered needle-shaped yellowish-green leaves and small cones having loose woody deciduous scales, is a native of China, very rare and scarcely hardy in this country.