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Tsuga canadensis (Eastern hemlock)
Wasowski, Sally and Andy

Tsuga canadensis

Tsuga canadensis (L.) Carrière

Eastern Hemlock

Pinaceae (Pine Family)


USDA Symbol: tsca

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

Eastern hemlock is a straight-trunked, gracefully pyramidal tree with long, pendulous limbs and short-needled, feathery branches. Evergreen needles are dark-green with silvery undersides.Evergreen tree with conical crown of long, slender, horizontal branches often drooping down to the ground, and a slender, curved, and drooping leader. Height is usually 40-70 ft., but can reach 100 ft. or more.

The bark was once a commercial source of tannin in the production of leather. Pioneers made tea from leafy twigs and brooms from the branches. A graceful shade tree and ornamental, it can also be trimmed into hedges.


From the Image Gallery

29 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Monoecious
Fruit Type: Cone
Size Notes: Up to about 100 feet tall.
Leaf: Dark Green
Fruit: Brown

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr


USA: AL , CT , DC , DE , GA , IN , KY , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , PA , RI , SC , TN , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: NB , NS , ON , PE , QC
Native Distribution: N.S. to Man., s. to MD & n.e. MN; along mts. to GA & AL
Native Habitat: Rocky ridges; moist, mountain slopes

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
CaCO3 Tolerance: None
Soil Description: Rocky, cool, moist soils.
Conditions Comments: Eastern hemlock can be a fast-grower, but is more often slow-growing. It must be placed where there is good drainage and no strong, drying winds. Trees seem somewhat pH adaptable but prefers acidity. They can be restrained as a hedge for years with regular pruning. Sunscorch kills back branches, and drought kills the tree. A number of diseases and insects can be troublesome, but trees in good health prove reliable.


Use Wildlife: Other Showy Insects
Fragrant Foliage: yes
Attracts: Birds , Butterflies
Larval Host: Columbia silkmoth

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Columbia silkmoth
(Hyalophora columbia)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA


Description: Layering has proven successful, as has propagation by seed and cuttings. Cutting must be treated. Sow seeds in fall or stratify until spring. Spreading a layer of compost on bare soil beneath a mature hemlock and allowing natural seeding to produce a f
Seed Collection: Cones mature in one season. Pick cones as they begin to open and leave in paper sacks until seed can be shaken free.
Seed Treatment: A 2-4 month stratification at 40 degrees hastens germination.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Evergreen plants safe for horses in Louisville, Kentucky
May 16, 2010
I have a horse farm in Louisville, Ky. I want to plant evergreen plants along the walls in front of the horse barns. What types of plants are not toxic to horses can I use? Thank you so much for all y...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen privacy hedge and drought-resistant garden
July 21, 2008
I am looking for a hardy evergreen hedge for privacy in Northern Michigan. I have sandy soil. Also am interested in planting a drought garden with mostly sun in same sandy soil.
view the full question and answer

Evergreen shrubs for Michigan
June 17, 2008
I'm seeking a small-medium, ornamental, fairly compact, evergreen shrub to complement my front yard woodland wildflower garden. I want a shrub that will flank both sides of my front porch steps. I wa...
view the full question and answer

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Georgia Native Plant Society - Atlanta, GA
Longwood Gardens - Kennett Square, PA
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE


Bibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright
Bibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

USDA: Find Tsuga canadensis in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Tsuga canadensis in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Tsuga canadensis


Record Modified: 2013-09-05
Research By: TWC Staff

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