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Eastern Hemlock

Tsuga canadensis

Family: Pinaceae

Location:
  • Fairly widespread
Eastern Hemlock young tree
Characteristics:
  • 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
Leaves:
  • 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
Uses:

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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