Eastern Larch a.k.a. Tamarack (Larix laricina)
Juniper, as the majority of islanders call it, occurs throughout the province. No large or extensive pure stands occur but is chiefly confined to boggy areas gowing with balsam fir and black spruce. In better drained areas, it is found with black, red and white spruce, trembling aspen and white birch. Tamarack seldom reaches a height of over 60 feet on PEI with a diameter of over 18 inches. Tamarack is the heaviest and strongest of our softwoods. It’s resistance to decay makes it very suitable for posts, railway ties, and telephone poles.
Tamarack or larch, was as distinctive for early recorders of island forests as it is today. It’s the only conifer to drop it’s needles every winter. Review of the records indicate that larch was not commonly seen throughtout the island, but rather in scattered areas. One area of concentration was in low wooded areas of western Prince County. Larch was noted to be a medium sized tree, rarely above 18 inches in diameter. Larch was associated with poor wet soils, in areas described as swamps and barrens. Usually associated with black spruce, ash and willow. Larch was a prized tree for it’s durability and resistance to decay. Used for ship building and was described as the best wood for knees and trunnells. Also, used for fence posts and later railway ties. Tamarack also was used to create a powerful turpentine with medicinal qualities.