The Larches in Val d’Ultimo

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)

Larix decidua (Pinaceae)

In the beautiful Val d’Ultimo, there are three centuries-old larches, ranking among the oldest conifers in all of Europe.
After researching the fourth larch nearby, knocked down by a storm in 1930, it was possible to estimate the age of those three specimens, which are now believed to be about 2300 years old.
The three larches bear the signs of the passage of time and of all the natural phenomena they’ve managed to survive.

The largest one, called “the big one”, has a huge tumour at its base; the highest larch, called “the dry one”, features a desiccated section still rising upwards. The inner part of the three larches is probably the best example of their “will” to survive: the trees are hollow but at the top, they feature secondary branches that have replaced the main trunk and are still growing year after year.

Those natural giants have witnessed the passage of many different generations, natural phenomena and countless animals that can still find shelter among their branches.

How to get there:

From Merano (BZ), drive to Lana and eventually reach Val d’Ultimo begins; then, travel for some 45 miles to Santa Geltrude.

Botanical Card

The larch is a typical species of the mountain and submontane environment, but its distribution can range from 0 to 7.874 ft of altitude.
It is able to form pure (larch) or mixed woods, usually with spruce. Sometimes it can grow isolated beyond the treeline on scree plains or in rocky places.
It can adapt to any type of soil as long as it is well-drained. The species is heliophilic, therefore it requires environments with a lot of light in order to grow properly.
The bark of this tree, like several other parts of the plant, has been known since the past for its healing properties. Turpentine is extracted from the resin and it is used in the production of paints and solvents.

Its wood is hard, sturdy, waterproof and resistant to insects: for these reasons, it is still used as a great construction material for buildings and ships.
Larch wood is also appreciated for cabinet making due to its features and beautiful reddish veining.

Photo source:

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)


39016 Val d'Ultimo()

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