Eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)

 eastern-hemlock leaves

Click on the images help you identify an Eastern hemlock.



Height 50' to 75'; diameter 24" to 36"; trunk straight, upright; branches spreading and nearly horizontal; leading shoot in young trees usually drooping; twigs slender.


Deeply divided into narrow rounded ridges; covered with thick, flat scales; cinnamon-red to gray.


Needlelike, 1/3" to 2/3" long; flat but blunt, scattered and borne in many rows, but usually twisted into a two-rank arrangement; remains on twig for two or three years, but falls rapidly if twig is dried, leaving twigs roughened by woody, raised projections. Most buds are scaly and not resinous.

Fruit (seed)

Cone is 1/2" to 3/4" long with scales almost as wide as long; borne at the end of the twig; ripens in the first autumn. Seeds are winged, slightly resinous, and about 1/16" long.


Usually grows on acid soil containing considerable organic matter; the hemlock barely reaches Minnesota, occurring native in Carlton County just southwest of Lake Superior; also a few scattered trees in Aitkin and St. Louis counties; very shade tolerant.

Wood uses

Light reddish-brown, soft, coarse, brittle, splintering, and not durable; largely manufactured into coarse lumber for outside finish of buildings; inner bark used for tanning leather; oil of hemlock distilled from young branches.

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