European Larch vs American Larch vs Japanese Larch

European Larch (Larix decidua) is native to the mountains of central Europe. It is a medium-size to large deciduous coniferous tree and forested in almost all countries of central and northern Europe. The lifespan is generally up to 200 years.  

European larch has higher sapwood and less heartwood content. Sapwood and heartwood can be easily distinguished by their color. It is stable, durable, and elastic. So it is suitable for exterior and interior applications

American Larch (Tamarack)  (Larix Laricina), commonly known as the hackmatack, eastern larch, black larch, or red larch, is native to Canada. It is small to the medium-sized deciduous coniferous tree. 

American Larch is moderately durable regarding decay resistance. It has Narrow sapwood and a wider heartwood, easily identifiable by color.

Japanese Larch (Larix Kaempferi) is native to Japan and also grown in northern Europe. It is a medium-sized to the large deciduous coniferous tree. Japanese larch is an important tree for Japan and Europe.

It is Moderately durable regarding decay resistance. The wood is tough and durable but workability is good.

#European LarchAmerican Larch(Tamarack) Japanese Larch
Scientific NameLarix deciduaLarix LaricinaLarix kaempferi (syn. L. leptolepis)
Tree 85-150 ft (25-45 m) tall50-65 ft (15-20 m) tall65-130 ft (20-40 m) tall
Average weight36 lbs/ft3 (575 kg/m3)37 lbs/ft3 (595 kg/m3)31 lbs/ft3 (500 kg/m3)
Janka Hardness740 lbf (3,290 N)590 lbf (2,620 N)600 lbf (2,670 N)
Color/Appearancemedium reddish brown medium orangish-brownreddish-brown
Rot ResistanceModerately rot resistanceModerately rot resistanceModerately rot resistance
UsesVeneer, utility poles, fence postsSnowshoes, utility poles, and posts.Utility poles, fence posts, and boatbuilding.


European Larch is strong and stable wood. It is suitable for making veneer, utility poles, fence posts, flooring, boatbuilding, and construction lumber. 

Due to its oily surface and good density, moisture does not easily penetrate the wood. Therefore, it can also withstand moisture for a long time.

American Larch is soft and stable. So It is suitable for making boxes/crates, and paper (pulpwood). straight-grained wood is used for the pulpwood industry. Apart from this, American Larch is used for Snowshoes, utility poles, posts, and rough lumber.

Japanese Larch is tough and durable and is used for general construction work, Utility poles, fence posts, boat building, decking, and furniture. 


Although Larch is a softwood and straight-grained wood species. Therefore most hand and machine operations produce good results with almost all species.

There may be some problems due to the oily surface and small knots. Overall workability is good.

Rot Resistance

Larch wood contains natural oil, which provides protection from the external environment. Oily surface keeps moisture and insects away from the wood. Larch wood is moderately durable regarding decay resistance

But for outdoor use, It is necessary to apply paint and stain. The stain retains the grain and color for a long time.

Tree Identification

Larch trees are large deciduous trees with short needles and cones. The needles of the Japanese larch are nearly twice as long as on the American. 

American Larch has 2–3 cm (3⁄4–1+1⁄4 in), European Larch has 2–4 cm and Japanese Larch has 2–5 cm long needles. The needles are light green in the beginning and turn bright yellow before they fall in the autumn.

The properties of the bark are almost the same as that of all larch. The bark on young trees is light brown and scaly. While the bark of the old tree is brown in color, with deep cracks.

Read Larch wood Pros and Cons