Hemlocks | Tsuga

Hemlocks | Tsuga

Description
Description

Hemlocks, belonging to the genus Tsuga, are a group of coniferous trees in the pine family (Pinaceae). Known for their graceful form, hemlocks are characterized by their fine-textured, feathery foliage, with small, needle-like leaves and drooping branch tips. They typically inhabit cool, moist environments, thriving in the understory of forests across North America and Asia. Hemlocks play a crucial ecological role in their native habitats, providing shelter and food for wildlife. They evolved millions of years ago, with a fossil record dating back to the Cretaceous period.

Hemlocks are also popular in landscaping for their aesthetic appeal, often used in parks, gardens, and as ornamental trees. However, they are currently facing challenges due to pests like the hemlock woolly adelgid, which is causing significant declines in native populations. Their wood, while less commercially valuable than other conifers, is used for light construction and paper production.

Anatomy
Anatomy

Hemlocks are evergreen trees recognized for their delicate, graceful appearance. They have a conical shape with a slender, straight trunk and branches that often droop elegantly at the tips. The leaves are small, needle-like, and arranged in a feathery pattern along the branches, contributing to the tree's soft texture. Hemlocks produce tiny, inconspicuous cones that hang from the branches. These cones mature and release seeds, which are dispersed by wind.

Hemlocks grow at a moderate rate and can become quite tall, living for several hundred years under ideal conditions. They prefer shady, moist environments and are commonly found in forest understories. Their ability to thrive in lower light conditions makes them unique among conifers and valuable in forest ecosystems.

Cultural Impact
Cultural Impact

Hemlocks have a significant place in human culture and history, primarily in landscaping and environmental conservation. Their elegant, serene appearance makes them popular in parks, gardens, and naturalistic landscapes, often used for their aesthetic appeal and ability to create tranquil, shaded areas. In some Native American cultures, hemlocks were used medicinally and for crafting. The wood, though not as commercially valuable as other conifers, is used for light construction and paper production.

In literature and folklore, hemlocks are sometimes symbolically associated with peace and solitude, reflecting their quiet presence in forested landscapes. However, they also face challenges from environmental threats, notably the hemlock woolly adelgid, leading to conservation efforts to protect these ecologically important trees. Their role in ecosystems, providing habitat and stabilizing forest floors, underscores their environmental significance beyond their visual beauty.

Common Questions
Common Questions
What is hemlock wood used for?

Hemlock wood is not typically used for any significant commercial or industrial purposes. It is a relatively soft and weak wood that is not very durable or resistant to decay. It is not considered a desirable lumber species for construction, furniture making, or other uses that require strong, durable wood. However, hemlock wood may be used for pulp or paper production, or as a source of fuel for wood burning. It is also sometimes used in landscaping and horticulture for mulch, compost, and erosion control.

What is the typical lifespan of a hemlock tree?

The lifespan of hemlock trees can vary depending on the specific species, growing conditions, and other factors. Some hemlock species can live for hundreds of years in optimal conditions, while others may have shorter lifespans. Hemlock trees are generally slow-growing and long-lived, but they are prone to damage from insects, diseases, and other factors that can shorten their lifespan. Hemlock trees are also susceptible to windthrow, which can cause them to topple over in strong winds. Overall, the lifespan of hemlock trees can range from several decades to several centuries, depending on the specific circumstances.

Is hemlock wood rot resistant?

Hemlock wood is not particularly rot resistant and is prone to decay when exposed to damp or humid conditions. Hemlock wood is classified as being non-durable to perishable, which means that it has a low resistance to decay and is not suitable for use in applications where it will be exposed to moisture or dampness.

Plants

* Under Development *

45’-65’ | 13.7-19.8 m
20’-30’ | 6.1-9.1 m (Spread)
3.3’-4.9’ | 1-1.5 m (Trunk)
.5”-.75” | 13-19 mm (Needle)
Carolina Hemlock
1980.000
910.000
150.000
1.900
240
GUIDE
3D
Carolina Hemlock
40’-70’ | 12.2-21.3 m
25’-35’ | 7.6-10.7 m (Spread)
2’-3’ | .61-.91 m (Trunk)
.5”-.79” | 13-20 mm (Needle)
Eastern Hemlock
2130.000
1070.000
91.000
2.000
20900
GUIDE
3D
Eastern Hemlock
66’-131’ | 20-40 m
10’-18’ | 3-5.5 m (Spread)
2.5’-3.5’ | .76-1.07 m (Trunk)
.5”-.75” | 13-19 mm (Needle)
Mountain Hemlock
4000.000
550.000
107.000
1.900
2900
GUIDE
3D
Mountain Hemlock
148’-197’ | 45-60 m
33’-49’ | 10-15 m (Spread)
2’-4’ | .61-1.22 m (Trunk)
.39”-.79” | 10-20 mm (Needle)
Western Hemlock
6000.000
1500.000
122.000
2.000
13500
GUIDE
3D
Western Hemlock
Mountain Hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana)
Comparison drawing of the Mountain Hemlock compared to similar Hemlock species and a person

The Mountain Hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana) takes the same geographical distribution as the Western Hemlock. This is the Kenai Peninsula to the northern part of California. However, it prefers high altitude, which the latter doesn’t. These areas are cold subalpine sites with cool or cold maritime climates. It favors loose, well-drained soil with adequate moisture. It is slow-growing, tolerant to shade and competition from other trees, and possessing small pendulous cylindrical cones and thin, square-cracked gray bark. The needle-like leaves are bluish-green or bluish-white. Young trees have slender, conic-shaped, neat crowns, while old trees have cylindrical crowns. It is planted as an ornamental tree because of its lovely blue-green color and ability to withstand severe weather.

Mountain Hemlocks have a typical overall height between 66’-131’ (20-40 m) and spread diameter of 10’-18’ (3-5.5 m). Exceptional mature Mountain Hemlock trees may grow to heights of 194’ (59 m) in the wild. The trunk of the Mountain Hemlock has a diameter of 2.5’-3.5’ (.76-1.07 m) with needle-like leaf lengths between .5”-.75” (13-19 mm).

Scaled set of drawings of the Mountain Hemlock in front and top views with dimensions
The Mountain Hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana) takes the same geographical distribution as the Western Hemlock. This is the Kenai Peninsula to the northern part of California. However, it prefers high altitude, which the latter doesn’t. These areas are cold subalpine sites with cool or cold climates.

Mountain Hemlocks have a typical overall height between 66’-131’ (20-40 m) and spread diameter of 10’-18’ (3-5.5 m). Exceptional mature Mountain Hemlock trees may grow to heights of 194’ (59 m) in the wild. The trunk of the Mountain Hemlock has a diameter of 2.5’-3.5’ (.76-1.07 m) with needle-like leaf lengths between .5”-.75” (13-19 mm).

Scaled set of drawings of the Mountain Hemlock in front and top views with dimensions
Mountain Hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana)
Height:
66’-131’ | 20-40 m
Width:
10’-18’ | 3-5.5 m (Spread)
Length:
.5”-.75” | 13-19 mm (Needle)
Depth:
2.5’-3.5’ | .76-1.07 m (Trunk)
Height (Exceptional)
194’ | 59 m (Max)
Weight:
Area:
Scientific Name
Tsuga mertensiana

Drawings include:

Mountain Hemlock front elevation, plan view

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Carolina Hemlock (Tsuga caroliniana)
Size comparison drawing of the Carolina Hemlock compared to a person and other Hemlock species

The Carolina Hemlock (Tsuga caroliniana) prefers rocky mountain slopes at moderately high elevation with moist, well-drained soil and cool climates. These are in the Appalachian mountains, northeast Georgia, eastern Tennessee, and western North Carolina. The evergreen coniferous tree has a compact pyramidal crown, thick reddish-brown bark, and stout horizontal branches that droop. The upper part of the leaves is dark green, while the underside is pale. It has a close resemblance to the Eastern Hemlock. However, it got a deep taproot. It is also differentiated from the other hemlocks by its rough appearance, longer leaves, and cones. Its ability to grow in shade conditions makes it a good ornamental tree.

Carolina Hemlocks have a typical overall height between 45’-65’ (13.7-19.8 m) and spread diameter of 20’-30’ (6.1-9.1 m). Exceptional mature Carolina Hemlock trees may grow to heights of 110’ (34 m) in the wild. The trunk of the Carolina Hemlock has a diameter of 3.3’-4.9’ (1-1.5 m) with needle-like leaf lengths between .5”-.75” (13-19 mm).

Set of scaled dimensioned drawings of the Carolina Hemlock viewed from the front and top
The Carolina Hemlock (Tsuga caroliniana) prefers rocky mountain slopes at moderately high elevation with moist, well-drained soil and cool climates. These are in the Appalachian mountains, northeast Georgia, eastern Tennessee, and western North Carolina.

Carolina Hemlocks have a typical overall height between 45’-65’ (13.7-19.8 m) and spread diameter of 20’-30’ (6.1-9.1 m). Exceptional mature Carolina Hemlock trees may grow to heights of 110’ (34 m) in the wild. The trunk of the Carolina Hemlock has a diameter of 3.3’-4.9’ (1-1.5 m) with needle-like leaf lengths between .5”-.75” (13-19 mm).

Set of scaled dimensioned drawings of the Carolina Hemlock viewed from the front and top
Carolina Hemlock (Tsuga caroliniana)
Height:
45’-65’ | 13.7-19.8 m
Width:
20’-30’ | 6.1-9.1 m (Spread)
Length:
.5”-.75” | 13-19 mm (Needle)
Depth:
3.3’-4.9’ | 1-1.5 m (Trunk)
Height (Exceptional)
110’ | 34 m (Max)
Weight:
Area:
Scientific Name
Tsuga caroliniana

Drawings include:

Carolina Hemlock front elevation, plan view

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Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla)
Size comparison drawing of the Western Hemlock compared to a person and other Hemlock species

The large evergreen Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) is native to the regions of the Kenai Peninsula to the northern part of California. The tree can be used for decoration or as an excellent source of food and timber. It is also called Western hemlock-spruce. It favors mild, humid conditions, temperate rainforest on acidic but moist soil. Young trees have conic crowns, while old trees have cylindrical crowns. Its mid-dark green needle-like leaves have a strongly flattened cross-section and the bark is brown, thin, and furrowed. The cones are greenish to reddish-purple when young, but turn brown with age. The Western Hemlock is shade tolerant, and unlike the Eastern Hemlock, it droops.

Western Hemlocks have a typical overall height between 148’-197’ (45-60 m) and spread diameter of 33’-49’ (10-15 m). Exceptional mature Western Hemlock trees may grow to heights of 259’ (79 m) in the wild. The trunk of the Western Hemlock has a diameter of 2’-4’ (.61-1.22 m) with needle-like leaf lengths between .39”-.79” (10-20 mm).

Set of scaled dimensioned drawings of the Western Hemlock viewed from the front and top
The large evergreen Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) is native to the regions of the Kenai Peninsula to the northern part of California. The tree can be used for decoration or as an excellent source of food and timber. It is also called Western hemlock-spruce. It favors mild humid conditions.

Western Hemlocks have a typical overall height between 148’-197’ (45-60 m) and spread diameter of 33’-49’ (10-15 m). Exceptional mature Western Hemlock trees may grow to heights of 259’ (79 m) in the wild. The trunk of the Western Hemlock has a diameter of 2’-4’ (.61-1.22 m) with needle-like leaf lengths between .39”-.79” (10-20 mm).

Set of scaled dimensioned drawings of the Western Hemlock viewed from the front and top
Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla)
Height:
148’-197’ | 45-60 m
Width:
33’-49’ | 10-15 m (Spread)
Length:
.39”-.79” | 10-20 mm (Needle)
Depth:
2’-4’ | .61-1.22 m (Trunk)
Height (Exceptional)
259’ | 79 m (Max)
Weight:
Area:
Scientific Name
Tsuga heterophylla

Drawings include:

Western Hemlock front elevation, plan view

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Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)
Scale illustration of an average Eastern Hemlock compared to other species of Hemlocks and a human

The Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) is native to eastern North America and is the state tree of Pennsylvania. It is also called the Canadian hemlock or the eastern hemlock-spruce. The plant has a long lifespan and is tolerant to shade. It has a brownish and deeply fissured bark and broadly conic crown. The Eastern Hemlock prefers high altitude but humid and cool conditions on a hillside, ravine, rocky ridges, and soil with a lot of moisture. It has short, flat, blunt, flexible dark green to pale silver needles, shallow roots making it vulnerable to drought and strong winds. The tree is monoecious, and its bark is used for making drugs.

Eastern Hemlocks have a typical overall height between 40’-70’ (12.2-21.3 m) and spread diameter of 25’-35’ (7.6-10.7 m). Exceptional mature Eastern Hemlock trees may grow to heights of 100’ (30.5 m) in the wild. The trunk of the Eastern Hemlock has a diameter of 2’-3’ (.61-.91 m) with needle-like leaf lengths between .5”-.79” (13-20 mm).

Pair of dimensioned illustrations of the Eastern Hemlock seen from the top and elevation views
The Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) is native to eastern North America and is the state tree of Pennsylvania. It is also called the Canadian hemlock or the eastern hemlock-spruce. The plant has a long lifespan and is tolerant to shade. It has a brownish and deeply fissured bark and conic crown.

Eastern Hemlocks have a typical overall height between 40’-70’ (12.2-21.3 m) and spread diameter of 25’-35’ (7.6-10.7 m). Exceptional mature Eastern Hemlock trees may grow to heights of 100’ (30.5 m) in the wild. The trunk of the Eastern Hemlock has a diameter of 2’-3’ (.61-.91 m) with needle-like leaf lengths between .5”-.79” (13-20 mm).

Pair of dimensioned illustrations of the Eastern Hemlock seen from the top and elevation views
Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)
Height:
40’-70’ | 12.2-21.3 m
Width:
25’-35’ | 7.6-10.7 m (Spread)
Length:
.5”-.79” | 13-20 mm (Needle)
Depth:
2’-3’ | .61-.91 m (Trunk)
Height (Exceptional)
100’ | 30.5 m (Max)
Weight:
Area:
Scientific Name
Tsuga canadensis

Drawings include:

Eastern Hemlock front elevation, plan view

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