Tamarack – The Soft Side of the North Country


During a lifetime of paddling the canoe country of Minnesota and Ontario, I have developed a deep appreciation for the lovely Tamarack trees that are an incredibly versatile and tough part of that very special ecosystem.  I’m happy to report that Tamarack trees can do quite well here in southern Minnesota, so that we too can enjoy the velvety soft look and feel of our native American Larch (larix laricina), aka Tamarack.

Tamarack trees have some of the appearance of spruce trees with short needles of approximately one inch.  There the similarity ends.  While most spruce trees can tolerate wet soils, the native Tamaracks can thrive in damp soils, and even in swamps.  Tamaracks also grow well on upland soils, which makes that quite versatile.

While spruce trees have stiff sharp needles, the needles of the Tamarack trees are very soft and not at all prickly.  Spruce trees generally retain their needles for two to four years before shedding them, while the Tamarack trees turn a beautiful yellow each fall and shed all their needles every year, only to grow an entire new crop of soft needles each spring.

It’s an amazing sight to stand on a high overlook and see hundreds of Tamarack trees along the edges of a marsh all turning gold in late September to mid-October.  It’s just as impressive the following spring to return to the overlook and see the lacy spring green cover the landscape as the branches of the Tamaracks that were bare throughout the long winter erupt with soft new needles from top to bottom.

You can enjoy this same wonderful rhythm of the seasons here in southern Minnesota simply by planting a few Tamaracks in or near that troublesome wet spot on your property where the other trees have struggled or died.  If you have a country acreage, you might want to consider planting an undulating ribbon / thicket of Tamarack to frame a portion of a wetland or storm drainage.

Another nice feature of Tamarack trees is their very good growth rates.  During their first ten years in the landscape, it is common to see Tamarack trees grow three to five feet in a single growing season.  It doesn’t take long to get a really nice looking stand of Tamaracks to develop.  Mature size is approximately 50-60 feet tall by 25 feet wide.  Tamarack trees prefer soil pH from neutral to acidic.

Discover for yourself the soft side of the North Country.  We have Tamarack trees available in pot size of 3 gal, 7 gal, 15 gal and 30 gal, with heights of 2 feet to 10 feet tall in handy plastic pots.  These are light and easy to plant and will grow fast for you!