For the last profile in our native evergreen series leading up to our Winter Tree ID walk this Saturday, we appreciate the stoic, soft-needled Hemlock.
Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)
These giants are known to live over 600 years. It likes the shade and a cool, moist environment. The needles are nibbled by rabbits and deer, while seeds are eaten by birds, and porcupines will even eat the bark. With few lower branches in hemlock stands, animals have effective shelter in the undergrowth of the forest during the winter.
Not to be confused with the poisonous plant bearing the same name, Eastern Hemlock is not toxic and was relied upon as an emergency food source by Indigenous groups, and also used as an antiseptic and even arthritis relief. The bark was also used as a source of tannin for in leather production.
Trees Please only inventoried two Hemlocks this year in McQuesten, including the small tree pictured above, recently planted in Hillcrest Park. However, we also often see this species in shrub form or as hedges. Like many other species, it is sensitive to excessive road salt.
Our Winter Tree Identification hike this Saturday is now SOLD OUT! We look forward to a great event.