Hemlock trees (botanical name Tsuga) are a North American species of big coniferous evergreen trees. Conical form, flat, aromatic needle-like leaves, oval or cylindrical seed-producing cones, and reddish-brown bark are all characteristics of hemlock trees. Beautiful landscaping trees or shrubs that are easy to grow include Cultivars of the popular Eastern hemlock or Canadian hemlock.
The pine family, Pinaceae, includes evergreen hemlock trees. Eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), Western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla), Mountain hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana), and Carolina hemlock (Tsuga caroliniana) are the four types of native American hemlocks.
In the wild, on the other hand, the Carolina hemlock is quite uncommon. The height range of native hemlock trees is 30 to 230 feet (10 to 70 meters). The irregular conical crown of the hemlocks develops into a cylindrical form with age.
Hemlocks grow in USDA zones 3 to 7 and are cold-hardy evergreens. In damp soils and cool temperatures, tall, conical trees are prevalent in evergreen woodland. Hemlock trees thrive best in the shade, out of all the conifer types. Hemlock conifers, on the other hand, flourish in full sun in northern cold environments.
Understanding hemlock trees is made easy by this article. Hemlocks can be distinguished from pine trees, spruce trees, and fir trees by their descriptions and images.
Hemlock Tree Leaves (Needles)
The genus Tsuga features trees with needle-like leaves known as hemlock needle leaves. The flat appearance and blunt, rounded tips of the evergreen needle-like leaves are easy to distinguish. A smooth, glossy dark green top surface and parallel white stripes on the underside are also features of a hemlock leaf.
On the branch, hemlock leaves vary in length. The needle leaves are usually 0.6 to 0.8 inches (1.5 to 2 cm) long. They may, however, be as little as 0.2″ (0.5 cm).
Fine serration on the needle margins, particularly near the blunt tip, may be seen in photographs of hemlock leaves. The redish-brown twigs have alternating hemlock leaves that are twisted at the base, allowing them to lie flat. There is only one leaf per node, unlike pine needles, which grow in clusters.
Hemlock Tree Cones
Hemlock cones are tiny oval woody cylinders that dangle from the trees, resembling little hemlocks. Seed-producing cones identify all conifers. The ovoid (egg shape) globular form of hemlock cones is distinctive. Hemlock cone measurements range from 0.6 to 1 inch (1.5 to 2.5 cm), and they hang from branches, much like pine cone measurements do.
Greenish to reddish-purple cones emerge from the hemlock tree. The cones get woodier as the season progresses and become brown. The ovate-shaped woody scales on hemlock cones open outward as they age.
Hemlock Tree Bark
The smooth gray bark of a hemlock tree becomes scaly and flakes away to reveal reddish-brown inner bark, which distinguishes it. The bark of ashemlock trees becomes a rich brown with flat plates and thick ridges as they age.
Hemlock vs. Pine
The cone on a pine tree is bigger and more stretched than that of a hemlock tree (as shown in the photo). Pine needles are spherical and cluster together. Individual hemlock needles are connected to a tiny peg on a branch, and you may see them. Pine needles, on the other hand, form clusters with two to five needles each.
Hemlock leaves are flat, not round, as another identifying feature. Hemlock needles will not roll between your fingers as a result of this. You can roll pine or larch tree needles between your fingers if you take them from the trees.
Examining the cones is another method to identify hemlocks from pine trees. In comparison to pine tree cones, hemlock cones are smaller and have bigger scales. In addition, hemlock cone shapes are more spherical or globular than pine cone shapes. Pines and hemlocks look somewhat different from each other visually.
Hemlock and pine trees both have a conical shape. Hemlocks, on the other hand, have a drooping demeanor when compared to Cedars. Horizontal branches or overall upward growth are common in pines.
Hemlock Tree Identification
The needle leaves, cones, reddish-brown scaly bark, and drooping habit of hemlock trees can be used to identify them. The flat, glossy, green needle leaves with white stripes on one side are an identifying feature of hemlocks. Also search for little egg-shaped cones with huge, rounded brown scales swaying from limbs.
Types of Hemlock Trees
The most frequent hemlock tree species will be examined in more depth. You may also learn about appropriate hemlock cultivars for garden design, as well as other information.
Canadian Hemlock or Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)
Eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) trees are medium-sized conifers with flat sprays of short, glossy green needles and tiny egg-shaped cones. Between 40 and 70 feet (12 to 21 meters) tall, a Canadian hemlock tree The wide conical form of eastern hemlocks, the straight trunk, and the drooping tips of their branches distinguish them.
Eastern hemlocks thrive on the eastern side of North America, as their name suggests. In states such as Michigan, Connecticut, Maine, and eastern Canada, you’ll find magnificent evergreen hemlocks. Pennsylvania’s state tree, the Eastern hemlock, is also found here.
USDA zones 3 through 7 are ideal for Canadian hemlocks. Even in ideal growing conditions, the tree has a slow to medium growth rate. The Eastern hemlock grows well in partial to full shade, unlike most conifers. Damp soils and wetlands are excellent places to findEvergreen hemlocks growing.
Canadian hemlocks make excellent evergreen trees for vast gardens or shaded yards because to their sluggish development. This is an attractive shade tree because of its drooping branches and thick needle-like leafy foliage. Hemlocks may be grown as a privacy screen, towering evergreen hedge, or specimen tree with pruning.
Canadian Hemlock Bark
Hemlock bark on hemlock trees in Canada is scaly and peeling, with a grayish-brown tone. Eastern hemlock bark develops deep ridges and furrows as it matures, along with rounded plates. The mature Eastern hemlock has a thick, fissured bark that ranges from red-brown to gray-brown.
Canadian Hemlock Cones
Hemlock cones are oblong or egg-shaped and range in length from 1 to 2.5 inches (2.5 to 6 cm). When young, the little globular cones appear green. Hemlock cones get woodier as they mature and the rounded scales protrude outward. Hemlock cones dangle from branches in profusion, and they grow in abundance.
Canadian Hemlock Needles
Flat shiny green leaves that grow around 0.5″ (1.2 cm) long, Canadian hemlock needles are flat hemlock tree needles. Two white lines on the bottom of the needle Canadian hemlock leaves and rounded tips with somewhat serrated margins are all signs of this plant. Short stems connect small hemlock leaves to the branches.
Canadian Hemlock Identification
Flat sprays of thick, feathered needles, tiny ovoid-shaped dangling cones, and reddish-brown scaly bark distinguish a Canadian hemlock tree. The Eastern hemlock resembles a massive Christmas tree in open areas. The broadly conical form and somewhat drooping branches of the hemlock also help to distinguish it.
Eastern Hemlocks in Garden Landscapes
In a garden or backyard, Canadian hemlocks take to shade quickly, and with little drainage. Hemlock tree dwarf varieties are simple to trim, maintain, and produce little waste. Eastern hemlocks may be used as foundation plants, screens, hedge plants, or specimen shade trees.
Plant Canadian hemlock trees or shrubs in a protected area to keep them safe from the heat of the afternoon sun. The hemlocks prefer acidic, fertile soil that is constantly moist but drains well. Pruning hemlocks is seldom required unless you have a formal evergreen hedge.
Canadian Hemlock Varieties
In your garden landscape, you can grow a variety of Canadian hemlocks. Hemlock cultivars are created especially for tiny, residential neighborhoods where it’s difficult to grow a big, intimidating tree.
Weeping Canadian Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis ‘Pendula’)
It’s a lovely weeping evergreen tree with drooping foliage, black green needles, and tiny woody cones. Weeping Canadian hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) The weeping Canadian hemlock can grow to be 5 feet (1.5 meters) tall and broad. Small screen, lawn specimen, or growing beside a pond are all good uses for this informal hedge.
Eastern Hemlock ‘Sherwood Compact’ (Tsuga canadensis ‘Sherwood Compact’)
The tiny Eastern hemlock shrub Tsuga canadensis ‘Sherwood Compact’ has a dense branching structure with delicate sprays of feathery needle-like leaves. It has a handsome mounded shape. This 4-foot-tall (1.2 meter) and broad dwarf hemlock
Canadian Hemlock ‘Gentsch White’ (Tsuga canadensis ‘Gentsch White’)
Tsuga canadensis has silvery-white tips and is a variegated dwarf hemlock cultivar with sprays of green foliage. The mounding hemlock tree grows to be 3 to 4 feet (1.2 meters) tall and broad. The decorative evergreen plant gives the impression of being blanketed in snow.
Canadian Hemlock ‘Aurea Compacta’ (Tsuga canadensis ‘Aurea Compacta’)
This dwarf decorative hemlock with golden-yellowish green needle leaves has an upright growth habit and is known as Tsuga canadensis ‘Aurea Compacta. This small hemlock is ideal for tiny gardens where space is tight, since it matures at 5 feet (1.5 meters) tall and 3 feet (1 meters) wide.
Canadian Hemlock ‘Cole’s Prostrate’ (Tsuga canadensis ‘Cole’s Prostrate’)
The low-growing evergreen shrub Tsuga canadensis ‘Cole’s Prostrate’ is appropriate for evergreen ground cover in the shade. It’s a 12″ (30 cm) tall and up to 5′ (1.5 m) broad needle plant with a slow growth rate.
Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla)
Between 165 and 230 feet (50 and 70 meters) tall, Western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) trees are huge conifers in the pine family. The flattened needle leaves, 0.9″ (2.3 cm) long cylindrical cones, and wide pyramidal crown distinguish the Western hemlock from other species.
The Western hemlock has a drooping growth habit at the tips, similar to the Eastern. The USDA zone 3 cold hardiness of western hemlocks, like eastern hemlock species, is also true. On the Pacific coast and in the Rocky Mountains, hemlock trees may be found growing. As a result, Pacific hemlock is the common name for Tsuga heterophylla.
Western Hemlock Bark
On older trees, the bark is smooth and reddish-brown. The bark of the hemlock becomes dark gray-brown and develops vertical fissures with a scaly appearance as it ages.
Western Hemlock Cones
Western hemlock cones develop green and turn grayish-brown as they age. Hemlock fruits range in length from 1.1 to 1.1 inch (3 to 3 mm) and width from 0.3 to 0.8 inch (0.8 to 1 mm). The egg-shaped cones, which hang from the reddish-brown branches, are plentiful like the Eastern hemlock.
Western Hemlock Needles
Western hemlock needles are darker and glossier than Eastern hemlock needles, with needle-like leaves. The 0.9″ (2.3 cm) long and 2 mm broad oblong hemlock needles have rounded ends. The two white bands on the undersides of hemlock leaves are a distinguishing characteristic.
Western Hemlock Identification
Sprays of feathery, dark green needle foliage, hanging tiny woody cones, and drooping end branches characterize Western hemlock, an large evergreen tree. Look for flat needles of various lengths tied individually to branches in a twisting pattern to help differentiate Western hemlocks. On the underside of the leaves, there are distinct white stripes.
Carolina Hemlock (Tsuga caroliniana)
Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee are all home to the Carolina hemlock (Tsuga caroliniana), which is native to the Appalachian Mountains. It thrives in moist, well-drained soils and requires regular watering in dryer climates.
The decorative tree Carolina hemlock may be cultivated in portions of your planted garden in partial to full shade. It may grow up to 100 feet (30 meters) tall with a 20–25 foot (6.7–7.6 meter) spread and has a pyramidal shape similar to eastern hemlock, with slightly pendulous branches.
Carolina hemlock bark As the tree develops, it becomes furrowed and thick, with ridges developing on its surface.
Carolina hemlock needles They are up to 3/4″ (1.9 cm) long, with two white stripes beneath, and are small glossy dark green flattened
Carolina hemlock cones When they’re young, they’re green, and when they get older, they turn brown. They measure 1.5″ (3.8 cm) long when immature and brown when mature.
Mountain Hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana)
Mountain hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana) is a medium-sized conifer with spirally arranged flattened needle-like green leaves. It is found in the highlands of North America. Mountain hemlocks may reach a height of 66 to 130 feet (20 to 40 meters) and a width of up to 42 feet (13 meters).
The Western hemlock and mountain hemlock trees both grow in the same range. The long, cylindrical cones of the mountain hemlock are one of the distinguishing features. The cones of most hemlocks are stumpy and short. The mountain hemlock cones, on the other hand, may grow up to 3 inches (8 cm) long and 1 inch (3 cm) broad.
Mountain hemlock bark is pale and has a brownish-red color. The bark thickens and has deep fissuring as the hemlock matures.
The bark of mature trees is called mountain hemlock.
Mountain hemlock cones emerge purple, with hemlock cone characteristics instead of spruce cone characteristics. As they mature, the pendulous cylindrical cones turn red-brown. Hemlock cones range in length from 1 to 3 inches (2.5 to 8 cm).
Cones and leaves of mountain hemlock
Mountain hemlock needles They are more rounded than the Eastern or Western varieties, and like all hemlock species, they are flattened. 1″ (2.5 cm) long needle-like leaves with blunt tips The blue-green upper sides and silvery-white undersides of mountain hemlock leaves distinguish them.
Himalayan Hemlock (Tsuga dumosa)
Himalayan hemlock trees (Tsuga dumosa) grow between 65 and 80 feet (20 and 25 meters) tall, and are native to the Himalayas. Linear-shaped, glossy green needle leaves, spherical globule cones, and grayish-brown fissured bark are all characteristics of the Himalayan hemlock. The large, irregular conical crown of the Himalayan hemlock tree distinguishes it.
The Himalayan hemlock has flat needle-like leaves, much like other hemlocks. The rounded tips of the linear leaves are attached to branches by short stems, and they attach individually. On branches, hemlock leaves range in length from 0.5 to 1 inch (1 to 2.5 cm). 1 inch (2.5 cm) long egg-shaped seed cones
Southern Japanese Hemlock (Tsuga sieboldii)
Evergreen with a conical crown and thick needleleaf foliage, southern Japanese hemlock (Tsuga sieboldii) trees are a distinctive sight. In cultivation, the hemlocks reach a height of around 50 feet (15 meters). Short, flattened needles with two white lines on the underside identify the Asian hemlock, which is distinguished by short, flattened needles measuring 0.3 to 0.5 inches (0.8 to 1.2 cm).
The brown egg-shaped cones dangling from branches help identify Tsuga sieboldii, which is a hemlock tree species similar to all others. Southern Japanese hemlock has a scaly dark grey to dark brown bark.