It was late 1969 when the BBC aired the Monty Python’s Flying Circus episode “How to Recognise Different Types of Trees from Quite a Long Way Away”. This is perhaps best remembered for “No1 the Larch” and “No 3 The Larch”.
This was a full six or seven years before I decided that I wanted to make a career in forestry. I don’t recall “No 1 The Larch” having any influence in my thinking, which I put down more to a BBC TV natural history programme “The World About Us”.
“No 1. The Larch” has been a frequent running theme in forestry banter through the years. Those of a certain age nod knowingly.
Whilst I’m not sure I have a favourite tree, the larch is one of those that is certainly up there. So whilst I am always on the lookout for outstanding trees and majestic forest stands, for the last 12 months (October 2022-2023) I have been on a bit of a mission whilst on my travels in the Lake District (UK) and the Valais (CH) to seek out larch; identifying some from quite a long way away.
Here are a few photos in homage to the larch. I have many more.
There are plenty of pioneer larch in the Lake District clinging to hillsides, and establishing themselves in stony poor soil.
The oldest larch in Europe are to be found in the Valais in Switzerland. A few are located in a larch and spruce forest above Vernamiège and said to be over 920 years old. A larger group, between 850 and 1000 years old, are located above Nendaz, where a ski lift bisects them. Being open grown, they have a high form factor and gnarly appearance. You can still recognise them from quite a long way away.