Hemlocks
Genus: Tsuga
Family: Pinaceae

Schoolchildren in Oregon learn to recognize these trees by hearing the story of poor Harry Hemlock. Harry was playing with his friends one day and he didn't hear his teacher call him to select a cone. Cindy Cedar heard the call and ran up to get a good cone. Doug Fir heard the call and ran to get a good cone. But, by the time Harry looked up and saw what was happening, it was too late. All the good cones were gone and poor Harry was stuck with tiny little cones and he could only hang his head in shame. Ever since then, hemlocks have been easy to recognize by their tiny cones and the tops that hang over to the side. (Moral: Pay attention to your teachers.)


Tsuga diversifolia
Japanese Hemlock


This conifer is native to Japan and grows near timberline. It is the most frost-hardy and wind-tolerant of the hemlocks. It can grow to about 75 feet but often remains shrub size because of its native habitat.

Maps: 7


Tsuga heterophylla
Western Hemlock


This hemlock grows along the west coast from Alaska to northern California and into the Rockies of Idaho and Montana. It is the most important pulpwood in the Pacific Northwest. In cultivation it can reach 80 feet, and as an older tree can be graceful and enhancing to a large garden. Grown in rows, it can be pruned into an attractive hedge.

Maps: 9


Tsuga mertensiana
Mountain Hemlock


The Mountain Hemlock is possibly the least adaptable of the hemlocks. In its native habitat it attains a height of 50 to 90 feet, but it is slow growing and smaller under cultivation. The needles are a blue-green to gray-green color and give a bottle-brush effect by growing all around the stem. Cones are 1/2 to 3 inches, cylindrical, hanging down from the branches and are purple when new. It thrives where the growing season is short and winters are long and cold.

Maps: 31