Eastern Hemlock

Tsuga canadensis


The scientific name of the Eastern Hemlock is Tsuga canadensis. The range is South Ontario east to Cape Breton Island, south in mountains to North Alabama and west to East Minnesota. It grows in elevations up to 3000 feet in north and at 2000 feet &endash; 5000 feet in the south. The habitat of the Eastern Hemlock is acid soils, moist cool valleys and ravines, also in rock outcrops, especially in north-facing bluffs.

The Eastern Hemlock is a tall graceful spiral that we frequently relate to the Christmas card evergreen. These magnificent trees are evergreens with conical crowns of long, slender, horizontal branches that are often drooping down to the ground. Hemlock needles are flattened and rounded at the tips. The top surface of the hemlock needle is polished and curved, reflecting blue highlights of the sky that shimmer through its foliage. This trilling blue light is peculiar to this tree- a beautiful sight you will not forget. Little red-brown cones dangle from the tips of flexible wiry twigs. Needles are attached spirally around the twig, but their stalks bend so as to hold them in a horizontal plane forming two rows on each side of the twig.

Seeds in the cones are how hemlocks reproduce. The cone consists of wooden discs on which the seeds lie on the upper sections. The discs are folded up tight until the seeds are ripe. Then they swing open and the seeds fly away in the wind.

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