western hemlock
Tsuga heterophylla

Western hemlock is a valuable conifer native to humid areas of the Pacific Northwest and the upper Rockies. On similar sites, the growth of western hemlock exceeds that of Douglas-fir. Western hemlock's wood properties are very conducive to quality lumber and pulp products.

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Light Water
Growth   Size

Timber Value

      Western hemlock is used for construction lumber, pilings, poles, railroad ties, pulpwood, etc.


Wildlife Value
      Deer and elk browse the foliage. Rabbits, snowshoe hares and beavers consume the stems of seedlings. Cavity nesting birds often reside in western hemlocks.
          Attracts: black bear, deer, elk, rabbits, snowshoe hares, beaver, vole, flying squirrel, northern spotted owl. sapsuckers, woodpeckers

Regeneration methods
      Western hemlock is very tolerant of shade and can be regenerated by group and single tree selection, seed-tree, shelterwood, and clearcut methods. Suppressed (understory) trees, up to 60 years old, will respond well to release.

Important Problems Early Detection tips
western hemlock loper defoliation; top kill
dwarf mistletoe presence of mistletoe; distorted growth

Fun facts
Very tolerant of shade, but not tolerant of drought. Does occur in pure stands, but more often mixed with Douglas-fir, true firs, and Sitka spruce. Thin bark makes it susceptible to damage by logging and fire. Important pulpwood species. Western hemlock is the primary source of alpha cellulose fiber, used in the manufacture of rayon, cellophane, and many plastics.
Tsuga: Japanese name / heterophylla: Greek "hetero" (different) "phylla" (leaf) - with variable leaves
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2004 Virginia Tech Forestry Department, all rights reserved. Text, images, and programming by: Dr. Jeff Kirwan, Dr. John R. Seiler, John A. Peterson, Edward C. Jensen, Guy Phillips, or Andrew S. Meeks.

questions, comments, and criticisms: email John.Peterson@vt.edu