Larix gmelinii (Rupr.) Kuzeneva
Synonyms: Abies gmelinii Rupr.; Larix dahurica Turcz.
A tree attaining 100 ft in the wild, but dwarfed or even prostrate in unfavourable situations; branchlets usually glabrous, yellowish when young. Leaves 5⁄8 to 11⁄8 in. long, their upper surface flat, the undersurface keeled and with numerous stomata. Cones 3⁄4 to 1 in. long, ovoid or cylindric, opening widely when ripe; scales ten to sixteen in number, occasionally more numerous, glabrous, light brown and rather glossy, truncate or shallowly notched at the apex, flat or slightly concave, not reflexed at the apex; bracts dark brown, concealed by the scales.
In its typical state, L. gmelinii is a native mainly of Russia, from the Pacific coast to a south-western limit around Lake Baikal and a north-western one near the lower reaches of the River Yenisei. On the south it extends into Korea and Manchuria. It was introduced, according to Loudon, in 1827. Coming from a region of cold or very cold winters and hot summers, L. gmelinii in its typical state does not really thrive in this country. The following examples have been recorded: Wakehurst Place, Sussex, 49 × 41⁄2 ft (1966); National Pinetum, Bedgebury, Kent, pl. 1930, 62 × 21⁄2 ft (1969) and another in the Plots, pl. 1949, 48 × 3 ft (1970); Hergest Croft, Heref., 60 × 23⁄4 ft (1969).
var. japonica (Reg.) Pilger L. japonica Reg.; L. kurilensis Mayr; L. kamtschatica (Rupr.) Carr.; Abies kamtschatica Rupr. – Branchlets yellowish grey or dark brown, more or less densely covered with brown hairs and often pruinose. Leaves about 1 in. long, broad in proportion to their length. Cones about 3⁄4 in. long with about fifteen glabrous scales. Native of the Kuriles, S. Sakhalin, and the coast of mainland Russia from Valentin Bay to Vladimir Bay, attaining a height of over 100 ft in sheltered places; described from a tree cultivated in Japan, but not native there. It was introduced to Kew from Japan in 1897 but is not now in the collection. This variety does not thrive in Britain but is cultivated in the National Pinetum at Bedgebury and a few other places. Bot. Mag. n.s., t. 159.
var. olgensis (Henry) Ostenfeld & Syrach-Larsen L. olgensis Henry – This larch was originally described in Gardeners’ Chronicle, Vol. 57 (1915), p. 109. It is chiefly remarkable for its stunted habit, for the dense covering of reddish hairs that clothe the young twigs, and the downy outer surface of the cone-scales. The cones are 3⁄4 to 1 in. long, the scales entire, rounded at the apex. It was collected in 1860 on the shores of Olga Bay, 120 miles to the north-east of Vladivostok, and is confined to that area (Korean trees referred to this variety by Ostenfeld and Syrach-Larsen are probably typical L. gmelinii).
Seeds of this variety were introduced in 1911, but the young plants that once grew at Kew and Bedgebury did not thrive. Another, planted at Borde Hill in Sussex in 1927, died after attaining a height of 4 ft in about twenty years.
var. principis-ruprechtii (Mayr) Pilger L. principis-ruprechtii Mayr; L. dahurica var. principis-ruprechtii (Mayr) Rehd. & Wils. – A tree 80 to 100 ft high, found by H. Mayr in 1903 at Wutai in the province of Shansi, N. China. Forests of it were afterwards found by Purdom and the American collector Meyer on the slopes of Wutai mountain. It appears to be a geographical race, differing from typical L. gmelinii chiefly in the larger cones (up to 13⁄4 in. long) with more numerous scales (thirty to forty). Rehder and Wilson (Pl. Wils., Vol. 2, p. 21) remarked that it is connected to the typical state of L. gmelinii by a chain of intermediates stretching from N.W. China through Manchuria to Korea. Some of the specimens collected by Wilson in Korea in 1918 agree with the var. principis-ruprechtii, but others approach the typical variety in their smaller cones and should perhaps be referred to it. Some trees at Kew, received from the Arnold Arboretum in 1916, also bore cones smaller than in Mayr’s type. The last of this set blew down in 1965.
From the Supplement (Vol. V)
specimens: Wakehurst Place, Sussex, Pinetum, 59 × 5 ft (1978); National Pinetum, Bedgebury, Kent, the best now 48 × 23⁄4 ft (1982); Little Hall, Kent, 60 × 43⁄4 ft (1984); Hergest Croft, Heref., 68 × 31⁄2 ft (1978).
var. Japonica - specimens: National Pinetum, Bedgebury, Kent, pl. 1937, 26 × 31⁄4 ft and 33 × 23⁄4 ft (1983); Borde Hill, Sussex, from Wilson 7328, 66 × 21⁄2 ft (1981); Edinburgh Botanic Garden, from Wilson 7328, 26 × 11⁄2 ft (1981); Dawyck, Peebl., pl. 1909, 31 × 31⁄4 ft (1982).
var. principis-ruprechtii - specimens: National Pinetum, Bedgebury, Kent, pl. 1926, 46 × 13⁄4 ft (1978); Borde Hill, Sussex, pl. 1927, 60 × 41⁄2 ft (1981); Hergest Croft, Heref., 58 × 31⁄4 ft (1978); Edinburgh Botanic Garden, 56 × 23⁄4 ft (1981); Castlewellan, Co. Down, 46 × 41⁄4 ft (1983).