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All information gathered first-hand, since 1995


Just above Roubion (between St. Sauveur-sur-Tinée and Beuil) the mountains are thickly forested with Larch, at just over 1400 m altitude. Below here, the forests are mainly Scots pine.

While other connifers acidify the soil with their dropped needles, the larch needles put calcium into the soil. This encourages the growth of underbrush, including blueberries and raspberries. The French even have a special name for a forest of larch: mélèzein or mélèzin.

You might now see larch forests with large patches turning orange-brown. There is a certain insect (coléophore in French) that attacks this tree and eats about half the needles. The needles dry up and fall off, to be replaced in August by new needles, ready to turn brown for autumn. This summer of 1995 seems to have been a particularly bad year. The larch isn't in real danger, however. It would take five or six years of successive insect attack to overcome the tree's natural vitality.