This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
The European and American Larches, says Michaux, are more strictly confined than any other resinous trees to the northern zone of the two continents, and they are the first to disappear in approaching a milder sky. The American species is roost abundant in the States of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. In New York, it is seen only in the swamp of white cedar, with which it is scantily mingled. In some sections it is called Hacmatac, and Tameraa.
The American Larch has some striking points of form and habit Like the Southern Cypress, it differs in its deciduous character from other coniferous trees; hence, both are distinguished by the brilliancy of their verdure in the early part of summer, when the other evergreens are particularly sombre; but they are leafless in the winter.
The American and European Larches differ only in the longer flowing foliage, and the larger cones of the latter. Among the winter beauties of both species may be mentioned the bright crimson cones that appear in June, and resemble clusters of fruit. In the vigor of its years it tends to uniformity, and to variety when it is old. Indeed, an aged Larch is often as rugged and fantastic as an old oak.
The American Larch, like its European relative, is a magnificent tree, with a straight, slender trunk, eighty to one hundred feet in height, and two or three feet in diameter. Its numerous branches, except near the summit, are horizontal or declining. The bark is smooth and polished on the trunk and longer limbs, and rugged on the smaller branches. The leaves are flexible, shorter than those of the European species, and collected in bunches; they are shed in the fall, and renewed in the spring. The cones of the European Larch are twice as large as those of the American species; but the two trees-are so analogous, that a sepe-rate description is unnecessary.
The Larch seems to delight in the coldest situations, and, like the Spruce, flourishes best in swamps, but will adapt itself to almost all soils, except sandy. We have removed it successfully from swamps, in the months of May and June, without losing a single tree.
The White Cedars are low evergreen trees, natives of Europe and North America, and remarkable for their spiry form, and closeness of grain, and the durability of their wood. It is always a graceful and beautiful tree. Even when growing in its native swamps, hemmed in on all sides, and struggling for existence, the top, and a branch or two near the top, will be marked by a characteristic elegance of shape which no other tree of the same family possesses. It is entirely free from the stiffness of the Pines, and the spiry top of the Poplar; and to the grace of the Cypress it unites the airy lightness of the Hemlock. Its foliage is evergreen, each leaf consisting of a little branch numerously subdivided; and the flowers, which are scarcely visible, produce very small rough cones, of a greenish tint, which changes toward the fall, when they open to release their fine seeds.
The White Cedar has so many excellent qualities, that in an industrial and manufacturing community it can never cease to be valuable. Fortunately, it is one which can be cultivated with less expense than any other forest tree, and it conflicts with no other.
The White Cedar at the South grows seventy or eighty feet high. When close and compressed, the straight and perpendicular trunks are free from branches to the height of fifty or sixty feet.
It grows generally in swamps or moist grounds, which are only accessible during the dryest periods of summer, and while frozen in winter. The trees stand so thick in these swamps that the light can hardly penetrate the foliage. Extensive swamps of White Cedar are found in Oswego County and in the vicinity of Syracuse. We have noticed them on high rocky grounds east of the city of Hudson. It is said to make a beautiful hedge.