1. Education
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Eastern Hemlock, A Common Tree in North America

Tsuga canadensis, A Top 100 Common Tree in North America


Eastern hemlock has a "nodding" form defined by it's limbs and leaders and can be recognized at great distances. Some rank this tree among the "quality plants" to add to the landscape. They are "long-lived, refined in character and have no off-season" according to Guy Sternberg in Native Trees in North American Landscapes. Unlike most conifers, eastern hemlock has to have shade provided by hardwoods to regenerate. Unfortunately, stands of these trees are being damaged by the hemlock wooly adelgid.

Introduction to Eastern Hemlock

Arbor Day Eastern hemlock tree close-up
Photo- Joanne Levesque/Moment Open/Getty Images

Eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), also called Canada hemlock or hemlock spruce, is a slow-growing long-lived tree which unlike many conifers grows well in shade. Hemlock may take 250 to 300 years to reach maturity and may live for 800 years or more.

Hemlock Wooley Adelgid

The eastern and Carolina hemlock is now under attack and in the early stages of being decimated by the hemlock wooly adelgid (HWA) or Adelges tsugae. Adelgids are small, soft bodied aphids that feed exclusively on coniferous plants using piercing-sucking mouth parts. They are an invasive insect and thought to be of Asian origin.

The Silviculture of Eastern Hemlock

Eastern Hemlock

The soil requirements for eastern hemlock are not exacting but generally the tree needs a moist to very moist but with good drained soil. Eastern hemlock grows from sea level to about 2,500 feet in elevation in the northeastern and northern portions of the range.

The Images of Eastern Hemlock

Eastern Hemlock
Forestryimages.org provides several images of parts of Eastern hemlock. The tree is a conifer and the lineal taxonomy is Pinopsida > Pinales > Pinaceae > Tsuga canadensis (L.) Carr. Eastern hemlock is also commonly called Canada hemlock, hemlock spruce

The Range of Eastern Hemlock

Range of Eastern Hemlock
The northern limit of eastern hemlock extends from outliers in northeastern Minnesota and the western one-third of Wisconsin eastward through northern Michigan, south-central Ontario, extreme southern Quebec, through New Brunswick, and all of Nova Scotia. Within the United States the species is found throughout New England, New York, Pennsylvania, and the middle Atlantic States, extending westward from central New Jersey to the Appalachian Mountains, then southward into northern Georgia and Alabama. Outliers also appear in extreme southern Michigan and western Ohio, with scattered islands in southern Indiana and east of the Appalachians in the middle Atlantic States.

Fire Effects on Eastern Hemlock

Eastern hemlock is very susceptible to fire because of its thin bark, shallow roots, low-branching habit, and heavy litter deposits. It is possibly the most fire-sensitive mesophytic tree species in its range.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.