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Tsuga canadensis is often confused with:
Taxus Taxus spp.
Tsuga caroliniana Tsuga caroliniana
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Pinus taeda Growing in a stand
Juniperus virginiana Juniperus virginiana
Pinus strobus Pinus strobus
Tsuga canadensis has some common disease problems:
Hemlock Woolly Adelgid

Canadian Hemlock Tsuga canadensis

Phonetic Spelling
SOO-guh ka-na-DEN-sis
Description

Eastern Hemlock is an evergreen tree that may grow 40-80 feet tall or even to 100 feet in the pine family. It is native to eastern and central Canada and the USA and is found primarily in the mountains of NC and one small area of the Piedmont.  The leaves are flat with single needles that have two lines of white stomata on the underside. The bark is gray-brown and scaly in young trees. As the tree ages, wide ridges and furrows develop. In spring, small yellow male and small light green female flowers mature. The tree produces a 3/4-inch cone that matures in the fall. Its wood, although soft and brittle, is harvested for lumber and pulp. 

The conical shape, lacy effect of the leaves and branches the dip toward the ground give this tree a graceful effect. It grows best in part shade to full shade and can be used as an understory tree. It grows best in cool summer areas and doesn't tolerate the heat and humidity of the southeast. Eastern Hemlock needs moist but well-drained soils and doesn't tolerate drought.

Fire Risk: This plant has a high flammability rating and should not be planted within the defensible space of your home. Select plants with a low flammability rating for the sites nearest your home. 

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems:  A healthy plant in the proper environment has few problems. Potential disease problems for plants in the genus Tsuga include needle blight (needles turn yellow and die), canker, rusts, and rots. Potential insect problems include bagworms, borers, leaf miners, sawfly and spider mites. The foliage may scorch in very hot weather. A prolonged drought can be fatal to this tree.

Hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) is a tiny (1/32”) sap-sucking insect (a relative of the aphid) that has recently become a serious threat to the survival of native hemlocks in the wild in the eastern United States. HWA was accidentally introduced into the U. S. in the 1920s from Eastern Asia. It has been known to exist in the Pacific Northwest since 1927 but was first observed in the forests of Virginia in the 1950s. It has now spread from Virginia into the southern and middle Appalachians. The inability to survive cold winters has so far substantially limited HWA’s northern spread to as far as Massachusetts, but northward expansion into much of New England is expected as winter temperatures continue to moderate. HWA has killed most of the old-growth hemlocks in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and 95% of the hemlocks in Shenandoah National Park. HWA was discovered in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny National Park in November of 2013. Treatment of HWA is available (pesticides containing imidacloprid or dinotefuran), but control of this pest is very difficult.

Quick ID

  • Branches in flat planes
  • Linear leaves with 2 glaucous bands below
  • Occasional leaf upside-down along minor twigs
  • Pendulous ovoid cones from branches

VIDEO Created by Elizabeth Meyer for "Trees, Shrubs and Conifers" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Curly', 'Gentsch White', 'Jeddeloh', 'Pendula', 'Sargenti Pendula'
Tags:
#evergreen#wildlife plant#native tree#moths#conifer#shade tolerant#cover plant#low maintenance#slopes#tsc#playground#hedges#small mammals#food source#cpp#fire#high flammability#NC native#amphibians#deer resistant#fish#children's garden#native garden#lumber#screening#fantz#cover#food source fall#food source herbage#bird friendly#food source hard mast fruit#mammals#Piedmont Mountains FACU#Coastal FACU#cover plant winter#tsc-cg#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats#audubon
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Curly', 'Gentsch White', 'Jeddeloh', 'Pendula', 'Sargenti Pendula'
Tags:
#evergreen#wildlife plant#native tree#moths#conifer#shade tolerant#cover plant#low maintenance#slopes#tsc#playground#hedges#small mammals#food source#cpp#fire#high flammability#NC native#amphibians#deer resistant#fish#children's garden#native garden#lumber#screening#fantz#cover#food source fall#food source herbage#bird friendly#food source hard mast fruit#mammals#Piedmont Mountains FACU#Coastal FACU#cover plant winter#tsc-cg#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats#audubon
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Tsuga
    Species:
    canadensis
    Family:
    Pinaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    The cambium was used by Native Americans for breads and soups as well as with dried fruit and animal fat for pemmican. The leaves, which are high in vitamin C, were used by Native Americans and settlers for tea. The bark was used for tannin for leather.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    E. Canada to N. Central & E. U.S.A.
    Fire Risk Rating:
    high flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    It provides winter and extreme weather coverage.  Red crossbills and small mammals eat the seeds.  Ruffled grouse eat the buds and white-tailed deer browse the foilage in winter.  It is an important thermal cover component along streams for amphibians and fish. It also provides cover and shelter for turkey and white-tailed deer.
    Play Value:
    Pieces Used in Games
    Wildlife Cover/Habitat
    Wildlife Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    This tree is moderately resistant to damage from deer.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 40 ft. 0 in. - 133 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 15 ft. 0 in. - 30 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Needled Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Arching
    Conical
    Dense
    Erect
    Pyramidal
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Fine
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    24-60 feet
    more than 60 feet
    NC Region:
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4b, 4a, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7b, 7a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Cream/Tan
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    3/4 inch light brown oval seed cones with scales often projected outward
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    In the spring, small yellow male and small light green female flowers mature. Flowers bloom from March to April.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Needled Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Cream/Tan
    Green
    Leaf Type:
    Needles
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Acicular
    Leaf Margin:
    Dentate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves are small ½ inch glossy needles that have a white underside in 2 opposite rows Its needles are attached by slender stalks ending with woody pads. The margins minutely dentate, especially toward apex.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Dark Gray
    Red/Burgundy
    Surface/Attachment:
    Ridges
    Bark Plate Shape:
    Round
    Bark Description:
    The thick and ridged bark on mature trees is red-brown to gray-brown.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gold/Yellow
    Gray/Silver
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    twigs yellow-brown, densely pubescent. Stems slender, gray-brown in color; buds are very small.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Recreational Play Area
    Slope/Bank
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Children's Garden
    Native Garden
    Shade Garden
    Design Feature:
    Hedge
    Screen/Privacy
    Shade Tree
    Understory Tree
    Attracts:
    Moths
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Heavy Shade