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Eastern Hemlock

Tsuga canadensis

Family: Pinaceae

  • Fairly widespread
Eastern Hemlock young tree
  • Leader (topmost) shoot often droops, giving tree a slightly rounded top
  • Bark of a mature tree has a purplish cast
  • Needles are very acidic, so fallen needles cause the soil beneath the tree to be too acidic for many other plants to grow
  • Suffer from attacks by the aphid-like woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae), which is wiping out stands in the Northeast
Eastern Hemlock bark
  • Needles about 1-3 cm or ½-1 inch, whitened beneath, flat
  • Come off stem in flat spray
  • Small inverted needles present on the top of stems
  • Stems are rough after needles are removed, in contrast to smoother stem of Balsam Fir
Underside of Eastern Hemlock needles
Reproductive Structures (flower, fruit):
  • Small cones 1-4 cm or ½-¾ inch
  • Hang down, in contrast to the upright cones of the Balsam Fir
Eastern Hemlock cone
underside of needles
top side of Eastern Hemlock needles

The elastic wood of the hemlock can be used in bow making. The needle-covered boughs provide excellent waterproof shelter when used as a roof on a lean-to.

top view of needle spray with inverted needles visible

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