Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
PINE FAMILY (Pinaceae)
IND. STATUS: FACW
FIELD CHARACTERISTICS: A deciduous, conifer tree up to 20 m. high; frequently stunted and scrubby. It has a cone-shaped growth pattern like the spruces (Picea spp.). Dwarf, spur-like branches are produced that support clusters of soft, slender, needle-like leaves. The leaves are typically less than 2.5 cm. long. Young cones are purple; mature cones are pale brown with less than 20 scales and are 1-2 cm. long.
ECOLOGICAL NOTES: Tamarack is the dominant or codominant tree in many coniferous swamps and bogs. South of the vegetation tension zone, it typically occurs on neutral to acidic soils (sphagnum moss mat is lacking). North of the vegetation tension zone, it is associated with black spruce (Picea mariana) and sphagnum mosses (Sphagnum spp.) growing on acidic, peat soils. Tamarack can also be scattered in open bogs both north and south of the vegetation tension zone. It is the only native deciduous conifer of Minnesota and Wisconsin; the needles turn golden yellow and are shed from late September to early November.
SOURCE: Gleason and Cronquist (1991); and Swink and Wilhelm (1994).