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Hemlock Spruce Tsuga canadensis

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

Eastern hemlock is a woody, needled evergreen tree in the Pinaceae (pine) family. It is native to eastern and central Canada and the United States. In North Carolina it is found primarily in the mountains and one small area of the Piedmont.. 

Eastern hemlock needs moist but well-drained somewhat acidic soils in sun to part shade. It grows best in areas with cooler summers and doesn't tolerate drought. Trees can endure pruning as a hedge, but look best unpruned. Propagate from seeds gathered from cones just beginning to open; provide moist chilling for 100 days before planting.  

A beautiful conical evergreen with drooping branches and tiny cones, a healthy eastern hemlock makes a lovely specimen tree in a home landscape. Individual trees can reach heights of 40 to 75 feet and widths of 25 to 35 feet,  so dwarf cultivars are best for home landscapes. 

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. 

Quick ID Hints:

  • Needles grow in flat planes
  • Underside of needles have two parallel pale (glaucous) bands
  • Mature ovoid cones ¾ to 1¼ inches long hang from twig tips

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems:  Hemlock wooly adelgid is a major pest. Other insect problems include elongate hemlock scale, hemlock borer, fir flat-headed borer, hemlock looper, hemlock rust mite, hemlock sawfly, bagworms, spider mites, gypsy moths, spruce budworm, spruce leaf miner, and grape scale. Disease problems include leaf (needle) blight, cankers, blister and needle rusts, and sapwood rot. Environmental problems include sunscorch in hot weather and sensitivity to drought.

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 landscapes:
Michael McCarthy Memorial Garden, All Saints Episcopal, Concord
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Curly'
  • 'Gentsch White'
  • 'Gracilis'
  • 'Jeddeloh' Thuga canadenses 'Jeddeloh'
    Shrubby form
  • 'Pendula'
  • 'Sargentii'
    10'-12' tall 20'-30' wide, dense, weeping, great form
'Curly', 'Gentsch White', 'Gracilis', 'Jeddeloh', 'Pendula', 'Sargentii'
Tags:
#evergreen#wildlife plants#native tree#moths#conifer#shade garden#cover plant#low maintenance#slopes#tsc#playground#hedges#small mammals#food source wildlife#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#mccarthy memorial garden
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Curly'
  • 'Gentsch White'
  • 'Gracilis'
  • 'Jeddeloh' Thuga canadenses 'Jeddeloh'
    Shrubby form
  • 'Pendula'
  • 'Sargentii'
    10'-12' tall 20'-30' wide, dense, weeping, great form
'Curly', 'Gentsch White', 'Gracilis', 'Jeddeloh', 'Pendula', 'Sargentii'
Tags:
#evergreen#wildlife plants#native tree#moths#conifer#shade garden#cover plant#low maintenance#slopes#tsc#playground#hedges#small mammals#food source wildlife#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#mccarthy memorial garden
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Tsuga
    Species:
    canadensis
    Family:
    Pinaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    The cambium is 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, are also used for tea. The bark was once used for tannin for leather production.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    North Central and Eastern U.S.A., Eastern Canada
    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:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    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:
    No fruits, cones. 3/4 inch light brown oval seed cones with scales often projected outward.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Description:
    No flowers. Pollen cones yellow rounded bumps that resemble a blackberry 1/8" across are found in groups near the tips of branches.
  • 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:
    Fissured
    Ridges
    Bark Plate Shape:
    Round
    Bark Description:
    The thick and ridged bark with irregular fissures 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