Larix gmelinii var. japonica / Kurile larch

Larix gmelinii var. japonica, first described in 1926 by (Maxim. ex Regel) Pilger is commonly known as Kurile larch, as well as Shikotan-matsu in the Japanese language. It is a specific variety of Dahurian larch that differs from the typical variety in the following ways.

  • Seed cones are larger and wider than long as compared to the type at 0.48 to to 0.6 inches (1.2 - 1.5 cm) long and 0.6 to 1.12 inches (1.5 - 2.8 cm) wide with 18 to 25 seed scales. The type has 15 to 20 seed scales.
  • Young shoots are different; they are are dark purplish brown and densely pubescent at first.
  • Leaves are slightly shorter 0.6 to 1.2 inches (1.5 - 3 cm) long.
Distribution. This variety is native to Russia's Sakhalin peninsula and Iturup island in the Kuriles; in Japan on Etorofu and Shikotan islands in the Kuriles, where it grows in high swamps and bogs, "usually in pure stands, but on somewhat drier sites mixed with Abies sachalinensis var. sachalinensis, Picea jezoensis, Alnus hirsuta, Betula japonica, Betula ermanii and Salix spp."

Attribution from: Farjon, Aljos. 1990. Pinaceae: drawings and descriptions of the genera Abies, Cedrus, Pseudolarix, Keteleeria, Nothotsuga, Tsuga, Cathaya, Pseudotsuga, Larix and Picea. Königstein: Koeltz Scientific Books.

Larix gmelinii var. japonica — a closeup of foliage and seed cones, two of the distinguishing factors between this variety and the type.
Photo by Arboretum Mustifa, Finland
Larix gmelinii var. japonica — the structure of a young tree.
Photo by Nurga