Tsuga heterophylla (Western Hemlock)


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Plant Description: Western Hemlock is easy to distinguish from other conifers with its flat needles. These massive understory trees thrive in shade, growing up to 200 feet tall, a climax species, and are considered one of the most shade tolerant species. Western hemlocks grow slowly, but are extremely long lived, living over 1,000 years. Branches hang down loosely, leaning downwards. Cones are small and are brown when ripe. Bark is rich in tannins and tips are high in vitamin C. Bark brown-red when hemlocks are young and darkens with age. Bark is often used for dying. *NEVER CONSUME PLANTS WITHOUT PROPER ID*

  • Height: 200 ft
  • Width: 30 ft
  • Watering needs: moderate
  • Sun needs: Full shade to full sun
  • Soil needs: moist, well-drained
  • Portland Plant List (Backyard Habitat Certification): Yes

Landscape Use and Ecological Function: Found all along Western North America, particularly in damp coastal regions, in both flat areas and lower elevations below 5,000 feet. Western Hemlock acts as a bank stabilizer, offers shade to wildlife, and its seeds are a vital food source to animals. 

*Photos courtesy of Seven Oaks Nursery*

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