Synonyms: Eastern larch, American larch, Alaskan larch, Tamarack larch. Tamarack is thought to derive from the Native American word for tree, hackmatack.
Aroma: Fresh, airy, woody, piney.
Colour: Transparent, slightly yellow.
Plant: A small to medium-sized, deciduous conifer with wide-spreading, shallow roots and a sparse, open, narrow, conical crown that can grow up to 25 metres. It has a straight trunk covered with bark that is thin, smooth and gray when young; thicker, rough, scaly and reddish brown when mature. The inner bark layer is reddish purple.
The Tamarack tree is the only conifer which is not evergreen. The feathery soft, light green needles turn a brilliant yellow in autumn before dropping.
Main Growing Areas: Alaska, Canada, United States.
Major Constituents: The oil is composed primarily of esters (including bornyl acetate) and monoterpenes (including pinene and limonene).
Interesting snippets: Native Americans used the tree’s roots for cordage, the wood for arrow shafts and the bark for medicinal purposes. Early white settlers used the soft needles as a pillow and mattress stuffing and the roots of large trees for ship construction.
Because of its durability and resistance to decay tamarack is used for posts, poles, mine timbers, and railroad ties.
Part of Plant used / Extraction: Needles and twigs / Steam distillation
Therapeutic actions: Headache, nasal congestion, coughs, bronchitis, pneumonia, colds, flu.
Emotional and Spiritual: Nervous fatigue, anxiety, clarity of thought, energizing and uplifting.
Aromatics International on their website describe Tamarack’s emotional and spiritual properties thus: Larch needles, before gently falling away in the fall, turn a brilliant yellow. This reminds us how Larch easily invites forgiveness and self-acceptance with a fresh start in the spring as its needles come back, soft and green. Larch withstands very cold weather and is incredibly adaptable, reminding us of a strong image and identity, qualities that are reflected in the energetic aspects of this oil. Also reflected in the properties of this oil, larch likes full sun, providing positive energy and casting a small shadow, emotionally revitalizing the dampened spirit.
Safety: Non-irritating, non-sensitising, non-toxic
Sources: Berkowsky B, Berkowsky’s Synthesis Materia Medica/Spiritualis of Essential Oils (2006)