A Tamarack tree stands tall in it's fall dress of yellow with a dusting of snow on it's branches and needles

(Larix laricina)

Closeup view of branches with young tamarack cones

The tamarack is NOT an evergreen because an evergreen tree is one that is never totally without leaves. The tamarack is the only conifer in Wisconsin which has leaves that change color in autumn and fall from the tree, just like a deciduous tree. In the fall, the leaves turn a dull yellow just before they fall off the tree. In the spring and summer the tamarack has bright green flat, soft, and flexible needles. They are shaped uniquely on the branch in a whirled cluster somewhat like a flower's petals. The trees are easy to identify by their narrow pyramid shape and their location--they're found mostly in swamps. The bark is rough and separates into thin reddish-brown scales. The fruits are small, round, and hang on the tree for several years. In the spring, the small cones are a deep reddish-purple color. It's quite a sight. Most of the time tamaracks grow with black spruce, balsam fir, and northern white cedars. Tamaracks are used for posts, poles, railroad ties, pulpwood and lumber.