Eastern Hemlock Coniferous
Eastern hemlock can be used as a specimen, screen, or group planting. It can be pruned over time into a formal evergreen hedge, which is densely leafy all the way to the ground (due to its full shade tolerance), although as a hedge it must be repeatedly pruned to keep it in size.
Where To Grow
Broadly conic crown, the branches often drooping at the ends and “feathery;” twigs yellow-brown, densely pubescent. Bark brownish, scaly and fissured. Needles evergreen, flat, mostly appearing 2-ranked. Seed cones ovoid, 1.5-2.5 cm long, borne near the branch tips, hanging. A shallow root system makes trees highly susceptible to wind-throw when exposed through timber cutting or planted in open sites. Plants should be staked for the first two or three years following transplant, to prevent wind-throw.
Eastern hemlock stands are considered important as shelter and cover for white-tailed deer and other wildlife species, such as turkey, ruffed grouse, and others.
It has a naturally open growth habit – if bought with a dense canopy effect, it may have been repeatedly sheared at the nursery (or Christmas tree farm). Numerous cultivars of eastern hemlock have been developed, including compact shrubs, dwarfs, form mutants (weeping, fastigiate, prostrate, etc.), color mutants (variegated), and graceful trees.
- American Indians used the cambium as the base for breads and soups or mixed it with dried fruit and animal fat for pemmican. Natives and white settlers also made tea from hemlock leaves, which have a high vitamin C content.
- Eastern hemlock is the most shade tolerant of all tree species and individuals may remain in the understory in natural stands for 25-400 years.