A very thin section of European Larch (Larix decidua) photographed under my microscope. The circle is about 3mm in diameter. The wood has been stained red to show up the cell structure. From left to right can be seen the larger cells of spring growth, giving way to the smaller and more densely packed cells of autumn and winter. This is what explains the rings seen in wood. Each ring represents one full year’s growth. Larch is a conifer, more specifically a ‘gymnosperm’ and has a somewhat simpler structure of wood than broadleaf trees and the cells are box-like in cross section. Very unusually it loses all its needles (which are really just small leaves) every winter, hence the scientific name Larix decidua which hints at its deciduous habit.

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