Many of us can't tell one type of tree from another. There are so many different kinds. About the only thing we're sure of is that trees with leaves lose them during the winter, and trees with needles keep them year around. That’s an easy rule... until you run across a tamarack.
The western larch, Larix laricina, or tamarack, has needles. Most people would call it a pine tree. But it does the strangest thing in the fall. The tamarack turns orange, or brilliant yellow, then drops its needles.
Tamarack is often mixed in with ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, and lodgepole pine. In the fall the brilliant trees stand out like a scattering of glowing candles among the evergreens.
You can see tamaracks around McCall, in the Little Salmon River country, along the Clearwater River, and many places in northern Idaho. There's a whole hillside due south of New Meadows that is almost covered with tamarack. That's appropriate, because the tiny settlement of Tamarack, Idaho is not far away.
Tamarack wood is heavy and dense. It's often used for utility poles, fence posts, and mine timbers. It doesn't work well in building concrete forms, though. The wood contains a sugar that keeps concrete from curing.
The elves at Wikipedia tell us that the word tamarack is the Algonquian name for the species and means "wood used for snowshoes."