The Gymnosperm Database


Illustration at Wikipedia Commons [J. F. Cathcart, ca. 1850].


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Conservation status

Larix griffithii

J.D. Hooker 1854

Common names

Sikkim larch; 西藏红杉 Xizang hongshan [Chinese] (Farjon 1990).

Taxonomic notes

Syn: Abies griffithiana Lindl. et Gord.; Larix griffithiana (Lindl. et Gord.) Carrière. One variety, Larix griffithii var. speciosa (Cheng et Law) Farjon 1990 (syn: L. speciosa Cheng et Law 1975) (Farjon 1990).


Trees to over 20 m tall and 80 cm DBH. Bark in old trees gray-brown or dark brown with deep longitudinal fissures. Long shoots red-brown, light brown, or yellow-brown; short shoots 6-8 mm in diameter, nearly smooth, with remnants of bud scales and rings of revolute scales bases; winter buds ovoid-globose or globose, not resinous. Leaves 2.5-5.5 cm × 1-1.8 mm, keeled abaxially and toward base adaxially. Seed cones maturing brown or light brown, cylindric or cylindric-ellipsoid, 5-11 × 2.2-3 cm. Seed scales obovate-square, ± flat, 1.1-1.4 × 1.1-1.4 cm at middle of cone, pubescent toward base abaxially, margin denticulate toward apex, apex truncate or slightly emarginate. Bracts ovate- or obovate-lanceolate, longer than seed scales, 5-7 mm at widest part, obviously reflexed. Seeds pale gray with irregular purplish spots, obliquely obovoid, ca. 10 mm including wing. Pollination April to May, seed maturity in October (Wu and Raven 1999).

Distribution and Ecology

E Himal: E Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, Arunachal Pradesh (India), and Tibet (China: Xizang), at elevations of 3000-4100 m (Farjon 1990, Wu and Raven 1999 [except: Wu and Raven do not identify it in Arunachal Pradesh]). Hardy to Zone 7 (cold hardiness limit between -17.7°C and -12.2°C) (Bannister and Neuner 2001).

Big tree




Timber is used for construction, railroad ties, and furniture, and the bark yields tannins. The species is also used for afforestation (Wu and Raven 1999).



The species is named for W. Griffith (1810-1845), of whom J. D. Hooker (1854) wrote "It is impossible to praise too highly Dr. Griffith's abilities and acquirements as a botanist, his perseverance and success as a traveller, or his matchless industry in the field and in the closet." Griffith discovered the tree during his travels in Bhutan.


Farjon, Aljos. 1990. Pinaceae: drawings and descriptions of the genera Abies, Cedrus, Pseudolarix, Keteleeria, Nothotsuga, Tsuga, Cathaya, Pseudotsuga, Larix and Picea. Königstein: Koeltz Scientific Books.

Hooker, J. D. 1854. Himalayan Journals 1: 255-256, 2: 44, 481 (quote, Ch. 1). Available:, accessed 2011.05.26. His brief description says "near the river, we came to the Himalayan larch; a tree quite unknown, except from a notice in the journals of Mr. Griffith, who found it in Bhotan. It is a small tree, twenty to forty feet high, perfectly similar in general characters to a European larch, but with larger cones, which are erect upon the very long, pensile, whip-like branches; its leaves, now red, were falling, and covering the rocky ground on which it grew, scattered amongst other trees. It is called 'Saar' by the Lepchas and Cis-himalayan Tibetans, and 'Boarga-sella' by the Nepalese, who say it is found as far west as the heads of the Cosi river: it does not inhabit Central or West Nepal, nor the North-west Himalaya."

See also

The species account at Threatened Conifers of the World.

Lang, W.H. 1913. William Griffith. Pp. 170-188 in F.W. Oliver (ed.), Makers of British Botany. Cambridge: The University Press. Pp. 178-191. Available at Google Books.

Schmidt, W.C. and K.J. McDonald (compilers). 1995. Ecology and management of Larix forests: a look ahead; proceedings of an international symposium; Whitefish, Montana, U.S.A., October 5-9, 1992. Ogden, UT: U.S.D.A. Forest Service General Technical Report GTR-INT-319.

Last Modified 2017-12-29