Needles of fiery-orange

What much of the Upper Peninsula woods looks like now

I didn’t want to deceive you.

First, you must look at the first two photographs. 

They show what much of the Upper Peninsula woods looks like now.

What the oak trees look like now

Most of the autumn leaves have fallen.  The long swaths of brilliant color are gone.  Our black-and-white winter world is re-establishing itself.  The tree skeletons creak in the skies.

Except–WAIT!  One moment please.   Nature has one last autumn show to reveal.

What glory! A forest of larch trees!

It is a stunning display by the larch trees!  They have been waiting patiently for their turn, and it is now.

Soft-needled trees of fire and sun

They sway and dazzle and light up the often-gray world with beautiful oranges and yellows.  Their needles look like they are glowing matches, or long slivers of fire.  They appear kissed by the sun.  They drench the senses in a last autumn gasp of astonishment.

The inner life of larch

Especially when a rich blue sky presents itself momentarily behind these “northern lights”.

Blazing wisps of soft needles

The needles are so soft.  You want to trail your hands alongside of them, petting them like a gentle creature.

Larch branches swaying to the music of the wind

You may even want to dance along with the branches, especially if no one is watching.

Spine and vertebrae of the autumn-kissed tree

There are several different kind of larch trees.  Many of the larch trees in this “neck of the woods” are called tamaracks.   The name tamarack comes from the Algonquin word meaning “wood used for snowshoes”.  You can read more about them here.

Larch cones

I am not sure if these larch trees are tamaracks, although I suspect they are.  They were planted by foresters several years ago when the acreage was clearcut in our forest neighborhood.

They–almost–make up for my despair when the hundreds of acres were cut.

Needles of fire, needles of sunlight
For North American Indians, the larch possessed mystical properties offering medicine, nutrition, and resilient building materials.  Ojibway used crushed leaves and bark of the Eastern Larch for poultices to treat wounds and headaches, and inhaled the larch’s resinous vapors.  Other Native Americans chewed its sweetish sap like gum, gargled its tea for sore throats, and ate its boiled spring shoots. 

The last of the blazing orange…

I just love it for its late autumn beauty.  For the final blaze of fiery-orange needles glowing in the sunlight.

Thank you, dear larch.

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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47 Responses to Needles of fiery-orange

  1. john says:

    A mystery solved! I often wondered what they were. Thank you for enlightening, informing and inspiring.

    I don’t know if you ever read George Hite’s writings from Eagle Harbor, he passed away last week at the age of 80 after a summer of sailing on the big lake. You and he were in the same league. His passing saddens me and reinforces the need to express my gratitude to those who stimulate my mind and delight my spirit. You are up at the top of that list of people. Thank you for being there.

    • Kathy says:

      You are welcome, John. I did not know about George Hite. He sounds like a fascinating sailor and lover of the U.P. Thank you for your kind heart-warming feelings!

  2. Heather says:

    I love the tamaracks! They really are beautiful hold-outs, aren’t they? I keep thinking about planting a few…

  3. holessence says:

    Hula burgers – those are GREAT photographs! “Larch Cones” is my favorite 🙂

  4. Brenda Hardie says:

    Wow! Such vibrant beauty! I haven’t noticed any trees like that around here…I do remember seeing when we were up north and in Canada though 🙂 Your pictures once again take my breath away. Aren’t we blessed to live in such a beautiful world!! ♥

  5. suzen says:

    How lovely you could still see Nature’s palette before the black and white season begins! Anyone ever tell you that you take awesome photos? 🙂 I’d love to plant some at our Eagle River summer place – do you think they’d grow just a snip short of the UP? I’m always fascinated at the medicinal uses of natural things, trees, roots, etc. so much so that I’m going back to school for Master Herbalist. Ya just never know when I may need some Tamarack! 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Thank you Suzen for liking the photos. They kinda came out OK, didn’t they? Yes, I think they’d grow near Eagle River. Definitely. And HOW COOL that you’re studying herbalism. You can be our go-to person for medicinal knowledge, OK?

  6. Susan Derozier says:

    Stunning! I had never heard them called Larch before and so you have again educated me. i loved the contrast you gave us. November was always a favorite time for me up at our cottage, as I loved when the trees were bare and things seemed to be going to sleep. So many secrets of the forest are revealed then as we are able to gaze in through the trees. Beautiful orange images to take me to sleep this night! Thank you!

    • Kathy says:

      I used to call them all tamaracks, until someone distinguished the difference. November is a nice month here except for those slippery roads which cancel meetings and such. Hope the orange fire-needles led you to a deep and dreamles sleep.

  7. Absolutely gorgeous color – especially against the blue sky! Your “Larch cones” and “Needles of fire, needles of sunlight” images are very nice – what a sight it must be to see it in person!

  8. Barb says:

    A special end-of-season gift for you, Kathy! However, I’ll be suspect if I see you inhaling too deeply: “inhaled the larch’s resinous vapors” – this alone might make you dance!

  9. Barb says:

    PS Is this new wallpaper?

  10. Sybil says:

    You beat me to it ! I had pulled over on a highway today, parked, pulled out my teeny camera, and snapped off some pics of some beautiful tamaracks. The sun was shining through them, making them appear to glow.

    Like you, I am temped to run my hands through their soft needles (sorry, calling them “leaves”, just seems weird).

    I had thought that larch was just another name for tamarack, but there seems to a specific difference, which unfortunately I haven’t grasped.

    Your photos are lovely.I love the swaying one with the lovely blue sky behind.

  11. I’d never heard of larch trees, but, gosh, they’re stunning! Thanks for the introduction.

  12. bearyweather says:

    They are super gorgeous trees, aren’t they. I have not found any place where I can get up close and personal to the tamaracks around here, because most of them grow in wet areas in hard to get to places. Love your pictures!

    Montana Outdoors has been showing off the western larch that grow in the mountains by him the past week or so, too. If you want to look at those pictures, you can visit his blog here Montana Outdoors Maybe you can see a difference between the Larch and the Tamaracks.

    • Kathy says:

      bearyweather, I LOVED looking at that fabulous western larch forest he photographed. Maybe the only difference I could tell at first glance is that his trees looked more uniformly pointy? That is a totally unscientific assessment.

  13. Absolutely gorgeous – that shot of the pine cones is my favorite! 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      C.B. I was going to call them pine cones, but then I thought “Wouldn’t pine cones just be from pine trees?” Thus, they must be larch cones, don’t you think? **smile** glad you liked the pics.

  14. Geoff Geary says:

    Great photos Kathy. Reminds me of my time in NY State and Vermont.

    • Kathy says:

      Geoff, I hope you saw some of the autumn tree blogs I posted earlier in the autumn. Probably those trees (maples and poplars) would be more similar to many trees in NY and Vermont? If you can’t find them, I’ll send you a link.

  15. Reggie says:

    Ohh! Ohhhh! I am quite speechless at such a glorious and breath-taking display of COLOUR, Kathy. I am intrigued to hear that the needles are not prickly but soft! I don’t think we have larches growing here… have never seen them. I feel like bathing myself in that light…. a sigh of bliss…

  16. Dawn says:

    Isn’t it wonderful how there is always SOMETHING colorful no mater what the season!!

  17. Carol says:

    Just beautiful! How generous of the larch to share their color when the other trees have gone into their winter slumber. And how generous of you to share with those of us who cannot experience them firsthand.

  18. penpusherpen says:

    WE find such beauty around us, in every Season, Kathy. and although the leaves are dying, their colour fading, they give us such a glorious display as a finale’ … Mother Natures palette is truly breathtaking. So wonderful to read too, of times past when older/wiser cultures used everything given by natures bounty in some medicines etc… nothing at all was wasted… Informative and wonderful post … May thanks fro the chance to see the Larch Tress decked out in all their Winter glory.. xPenx

    • penpusherpen says:

      and many apologies, Kathy, for my typing errors on the last line…… um,.. I blame my keyboard. Always!!. ’twas not me at all!! 😉 xx

    • Kathy says:

      Dear Pen, Mother Nature is a most gracious and gifted artist. Thank goodness we still have access to some of those older cultures so kindly sharing their hard-earned information with us. I love that nothing was wasted. If we could but learn this a little! Thank you.

      And I know about those darn keyboards. Shame on them! 🙂

  19. Elisa's Spot says:

    I just found one of these today in a nearby teeny park. I wondered what made the fir turn orange so i touched it, made me think of cedar. I rubbed my face in it. It made a very nice silkie! It’s funny that I see it here now in your blog the same afternoon. Thanks for sharing it and letting me know what it is/was.

    • Kathy says:

      Oh Elisa I can just see you rubbing your face on the needles! I wish I had thought of that. What a great serendipity…glad you saw your larch too.

  20. Colleen says:

    I’ve always loved larch trees, too. So unexpected, an autumn delight. And so nice to see them again in your lovely photos. We don’t seem to have them in our area, lots of other beauties but not these gorgeous ladies (and/or gentlemen?).

    • Kathy says:

      An unexpected autumn delight! What a perfect way to put it. I think they are ladies. (Sorry, gentlemen Larch.) They sway so elegantly and are so soft. I suppose guys can be like this, too.

  21. montucky says:

    It is thoroughly enjoyable to see the eastern version of the Larch! It’s just as beautiful as the western one that we have here in Montana. A wonderful tree!

  22. Robin says:

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful larch trees. They remind me a lot of the bald cypress trees we have around here. 🙂

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