Larch is only indigenous to the hilly regions throughout Central Europe, where it forms large forests in the Alps, but it has for long been largely cultivated throughout Europe. It was first introduced into England in 1639.
It is one of the most valuable trees ever introduced into the country, both with respect to the rapidity of its growth (it grows six times quicker than Oak) and the value of its durable timber. Its wood is far tougher, stronger and more durable than that of any other conifer, excepting perhaps the Yew. Its durability makes it specially adapted for mining operations and there is also considerable demand for it for railway sleepers, because it lasts longer than any other kind of home-grown wood when under the wear and tear of traffic and the decomposing influence of damp, warmth, and fungi. It is also employed both in ship- and house-building, and in Cabinet-work is capable of taking a very high polish. Gilding has a better effect on it than over almost any other, and it is a favourite for placing behind pictures, as it resists worm attacks. It is the one wood for which a ready sale can always be found in any part of the United Kingdom.
None of our forest trees is hardier than the Larch. The young trees establish themselves readily and soon grow rapidly. They are therefore, like the birch, used as ‘nurses’ for slow-growing and less hardy kinds of trees. The ground beneath a larch wood speedily improves in quantity and quality.