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Wednesday, August 17, 2011



When I was around nine, I became fascinated with tamarack trees.  They were different from the other evergreens, pine, spruce and fir that grew in the heavy woods around our home.  I wasn’t sure why they were unlike the others.

I was drawn to them because they felt quite welcoming when I touched them.  I could lean into the tree and spread my small arms the length of the branches without getting poked or scratched.  The needles were soft, delicate and pliable.

The needles of a tamarack are indeed soft, flexible and gentle to the touch.  They grow one-by-one in whorls along the shoots, unlike the needles of pine, spruce and fir that grow in clumps or bundles that are stiff and prickly.

Another intriguing tamarack difference, they are the only evergreens that lose their needles, deciduous conifers.  In the fall, tamaracks turn a vibrant golden-yellow and shed all their needles.

NOTE:  This beautiful photo is from the fine photography site of Josh Ellis.
You can see more of his work by clicking on this link:

In winter, their naked trunks and branches stand in contrast to most evergreen conifers that retain their dark green colours all year long.

In spring, the tamarack begins to grow new pale green needles.  By early summer, though they seem to be a paler green than other conifers, a light blue-green shade, they are again fully needled, lush and soft.

Tamaracks are slow growing hardy trees that do well in a moist, acidic, well-drained soil.  The low lying areas in our yard would be perfect.

Do we have any tamaracks?  No.  Not yet anyway.

I loved them when I was a child and love them, still.  Now I understand what makes them so unique, this magic tree of childhood.


Crafty Green Poet said...

her we have the larch which is a deciduous conifer, i wonder if the two species are related?

Carol Steel said...

They are the same tree. They are variously called tamarack, larch and hackmatack. When I was little, we called them hackmatack, as I grew up, I realized they had other names depending upon where one was from.

Josh Ellis said...

Hey, glad to see you like my photo of the tamarak... could you please credit me properly under my image and provide a link to my website...


Thanks for your understanding in this matter.

Carol Steel said...

Thank you for your contact Josh and for kindness in allowing me to use your lovely photo. I have to say that I am naive about the use of images found on google. Now that I know, I will be removing the photos on my blog which are not mine, except for those I have permission to use. Thank you for your note. I do love the bright yellow of your photo. You really captured the essence of everything I love about this tree.

Anonymous said...

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