Weston’s Golden Larches

Golden Larch, Land’s Sake, September 2021. It really wants the invasives cut back.

Weston, as most of us know, has amazing trees. Yes, our neighbor to the north has us beat on catalpas (the twisted tree by their library) and old growth oaks, but we had a world-renowned arboretum here–albeit they used the 40-acre field (current Land’s Sake) as their test area rather than using it as a visitor center. And now the Town of Weston is the proud owner of three golden larches, among other gorgeous trees.

In case you are not so fond of trees (ahem, you know who you are and so do I), you may not know how unusual and beautiful the golden larch is. And you may not care. And then we are no longer friends. If you do care, it’s time to learn more about these assets to Weston. Remember, trees are some of the only assets that gain value as they get older. Definitely none of our buildings do…hello, high school roof. No, I am not going to talk about JoST.

The golden larch is a pine tree , which means it produces seed-bearing “pine cones” every year. But it’s unique– it is the only member of its genus, Pseudolarix amabilis. Two other trees were in the genus but they’re now extinct. It is special because it is deciduous, meaning it loses its needles every year after putting on a spectacular golden show in the fall. Other deciduous pine trees include other larches, dawn redwoods and some cypress. If you have watched these three larches in particular, you will know they change from bright green in spring, then darker green, and finally gold, before dropping their needles in the fall. There is no possible way I can describe the golden larch better than the Arnold Arboretum here.

The Arnold Arboretum’s 1896 Lineage Golden Larch

While the Arnold Arboretum has done a fantastic job of explaining the roots (haha) of their larches in Boston (some are from original seeds from the 1800s, some were more recent acquisitions from China, some from our neighbors to the south, Wellesley), the former owner of Case Estates has not said a peep about the Weston trees. Could ours be grandkids of the one pictured above? Great-grand? These are legacy trees, and my great hope is that someone will care about them enough to put them “on the map” and watch over them carefully.

When I contacted the Arnold Arboretum librarian earlier this year, she was going to look in the archives for me…but I don’t have updates. Yet. Field trip to Arnold anyone? Yes, please. Are our trees from China or from Wellesley seeds? Or Boston? How old are they? Do they have names? (kidding, people, I haven’t lost it that badly yet). On a recent visit to Land’s Sake, I took a stroll with my mom to see the larches. Two of them are smaller, one (pictured at the top) is absolutely spectacular. When last I visited the larches in winter, it was March and the needles were not out, and even then their size and grace were noteworthy.

Weston has a number of amazing trees that are assets to the town and we are not allowed to forget that. Or rather I shall not let you forget it. Slow-growing but equally spectactular dawn redwoods sit behind the larches. A giant beech tree nicknamed the Magic Tree still reaches giant branches to the sky, though (editorial comment), it needs to have a rest from climbing kids. What’s our plan, Weston? Looking at this undated hand-written map of a tree tour of 40 Acres, we can do better. We need to do better. Who’s in? Tree Advisory Group? Where are my Eagle Scout candidates?

Golden larches are listed as #9 on this map

What do we really know about these trees and are we prepared to lose them if the roots are compacted or the trunks damaged? Can we hire a certified arborist-in-training to study all of the trees of the former Arnold Arboretum West (Case Estates)? Can we give the trees name tags and histories much like the original Champion of Trees, the Morton Arboretum in Illinois?

All those numbers? Provenance and age details.

And let’s QR code them. If Morton can do it…well, okay, they’re a bit bigger than us.

Tree Education Center at the Morton Arboretum

I have no answers for you. Just the thought that it all matters.

Trees rule. Especially Weston trees.

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