The larch is a deciduous coniferous tree, which loses its needles every autumn. It grows to between 20 and 50 metres tall and has greyish-brown outer bark with elongated furrows that reveal a reddish inner bark. The flat needles are between 2.5 and 3.2 centimetres long and grow from short spurs in clusters. They are bright green in spring and turn golden yellow just before dropping in autumn. The flowering period is from April to May. The cones are egg-shaped and between 2 and 6 centimetres long. They are green when young, turning brown before they open and release the seeds. Old cones commonly remain on the tree for many years, turning a dull grey-black.
The European larch grows in mountainous regions with well-drained, slightly acidic to neutral soil conditions throughout Europe.