Tamarack or larch trees are known as juniper trees on Prince Edward Island. Juniper is present throughout the island in mixed forests like the one we visited recently in Breadalbane. Juniper is a deciduous cone bearing tree or conifer, losing its needles in the autumn after they turn a golden colour.
As we walked under some juniper trees, the needles fell on and around us. The ground in those areas was covered in yellow needles.
Juniper is the hardest and strongest of the softwoods. It is also resistant to decay and as such is a popular wood for poles, posts and railway ties. There was a time when shipbuilding was big business on the island and juniper was a preferred wood for use in the industry.
Another interesting feature of the juniper tree is its intolerance to shade. The trees can grow up to sixty feet in height and in a mixed forest, they must be in the over story or they die. In keeping with their intolerance to shade, junipers prune themselves.
One half to two-thirds of the trunks of the tall trees will have empty branches with the needles only on the top portions.
It is a unique tree and a versatile wood which gives a mixed forest a glorious crown this time of year.