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categoryZConiferous Coniferous List 
categoryZEvergreen Evergreen List 

WESTERN HEMLOCK

WESTERN HEMLOCK-SPRUCE

Tsuga heterophylla

Pine Family [Pinaceae]  

Cones (ripen):
cones8Jan cones8Feb cones8may cones8Jun cones8June cones8Jul cones8July cones8Aug cones8Sep cones8Sept cones8Oct cones8Nov cones8Dec
Leaves:
leaves8Jan leaves8Feb leaves8mar leaves8march leaves8apr leaves8april leaves8may leaves8jun leaves8june leaves8jul leaves8july leaves8Aug leaves8sep leaves8sept leaves8Oct leaves8Nov leaves8Dec

category
category8Trees
 
category
category8Coniferous
 
category
category8Evergreen
 
status
statusZneophyte
 
flower
flower8purple
 
category
category8Trees
 
stem
stem8round
 
toxicity
toxicityZmedium
 
sex
sexZmonoecious
 

15th July 2003, a garden, Walkden, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
A young tree but about 15 years old. The lower branches droop slightly before rising near the ends gracefully. Upper branches are directed slightly upwards. Leaves on new twigs hand down like draping curtains.


5th Jan 2010, a garden, Walkden, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
Now about 25 years old and twice as high. Branches drooping heavily under 8 inches of overnight snowfall.


31st May 2013, a garden, Walkden, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
Branches start from near ground-level, are straight, inclined slightly upwards and hardly tapering. Sycamore tree behind with no lower branches.


31st May 2013, a garden, Walkden, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
A slugs eye view.


31st May 2013, a garden, Walkden, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
New growth is lime green.


31st May 2013, a garden, Walkden, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
New leaves lime-green. Old leaves dark-green.


31st May 2013, a garden, Walkden, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
 New female cones


31st May 2013, a garden, Walkden, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
 New cones, female large.  Male cones much smaller


31st May 2013, a garden, Walkden, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
 


31st May 2013, a garden, Walkden, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
 


31st May 2013, a garden, Walkden, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
 Male cones are much smaller and seem to have holes in one side.


31st May 2013, a garden, Walkden, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
 Male cones


20th July 2004, a garden, Walkden, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
 Later in Summer the female cones turn green. Last years mature Female cones still on the tree and open. Last years smaller Male cones still on the tree and open. The smaller mature male cones can also be seen.


31st May 2013, a garden, Walkden, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
The underside of the flat needle leaves are whitish.


31st May 2013, a garden, Walkden, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
Back of leaves.


31st May 2013, a garden, Walkden, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
Backs of leaves. Western Hemlock has two wide whitish strips whereas Eastern Hemlock has two narrow lines. The leaves have more or less parallel sides whereas those of Eastern Hemlock taper slightly towards the end.


31st May 2013, a garden, Walkden, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
 The mature female cones, open. Leaves dark-green on upper surface.


31st May 2013, a garden, Walkden, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
Bark.


Not to be semantically confused with : Hemlock (Conium maculatum), Hemlock Water-Dropwort (Oenanthe crocata) [some very poisonous plants with similar names]

Easily mis-identified as : Eastern Hemlock aka Eastern Hemlock-spruce (Tsuga canadensis) the main differences being that the reverse sides of the flat narrow leaves of Western Hemlock have two slightly wider whitish lines and the sides of the leaves of Western Hemlock are more or less parallel with any widest part in the middle whereas in Eastern Hemlock they taper sightly towards the ends with the widest part nearest the shoot and its leaves are lemon scented. Like Western Hemlock, there is a second pair of leaves above the first, but on Eastern Hemlock the upper leaves are shorter and reversed (upside down!). Also the trunk in Eastern Hemlock often forks into several smaller trunks on its way up. The cones of Eastern Hemlock are smaller at only 18mm long whereas they are 25mm long on Western Hemlock. Also, new shoots (leaders) on Eastern Hemlock do not droop or drape.

Can be mistaken for several differing fir trees such as Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga heterophylla) but the leaves of Western Hemlock have distinctive stalks and the female cones are small (about 15-25mm long) and egg-shaped and has short dark-green and shiny leaves. The drooping curtain-like leafy shoots draping from the ends of main branches are also quite distinctive.

Possibly mistaken for : Brewer's Spruce and to European Larch (Larix decidua) which both have long dangling leafy shoots.

It is frequently planted in coniferous plantations often with other hardwoods.

Western Hemlock is a coniferous evergreen tree and grows to a height of about 46m, taller than Eastern Hemlock and was introduced and subsequently naturalised in the UK. Many Western Hemlocks in America grow to 70m, the record being 83m but even half that height worries your Author, for the roots are quite shallow not far below soil surface. Moreover, it was sold to him as a tree which grows to just 20 feet! It is very shade tolerant, matched only by Pacific Yew and Pacific Silver Fir. It is long-lived, the oldest up to 1200 years old.

The leaves are in two distinct rows each side of the shoot: those which spread out horizontally are distinctly longer than those on the upper part of the twigs. Although it is evergreen, it does shed some leaves especially in very hot dry weather when they fall to the ground as a gentle rain, but never so many for the tree ever to be leafless. A brown peg is left where leaves have departed. They have one resin duct. Underneath the tree a carpet of brown needles can smother the grass in summer. The leaves, like most (all?) needles, are slightly poisonous (containing terpenoids) to other plants and act like gentle weed killers inhibiting the growth of grass and other plants which then grow less vigorously.

The main root system is only shallowly below ground with sometimes the upper parts visible. They can more easily be blown over than can deciduous trees with roots that delve deep underground. Trees with a shallow root system can suffer from lack of water in dry heat-waves much more than do trees with deeper roots which can find water in the depths.

The cambium below the bark is edible without any other preparation.Western Hemlock encourages some well known edible fungi such as Chanterelle. It is used as a tree for timber. The crushed leaves have little or no aromatic smell.


  Tsuga heterophylla  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Pinaceae  

Distribution

 BSBI maps
genus8Tsuga
Tsuga
(Hemlock-Spruces)

WESTERN HEMLOCK

WESTERN HEMLOCK-SPRUCE

Tsuga heterophylla

Pine Family [Pinaceae]