western hemlock Pinaceae Tsuga
heterophylla (Raf.) Sarg. symbol: TSHE
Leaf: Evergreen, flattened, single needles, spirally arranged (but somewhat 2-ranked); short (1/4 to 3/4 inch long), rounded tips, short but distinct petioles, two distinctly different sizes that alternate on the twig, yellow-green to green above with two white bands below.
Flower: Species is monoecious; male cones are tiny, yellow, and occur axillary on previous year's growth; female cones are tiny, purple, and terminal.
Fruit: Small, woody, egg-shaped cones (about 1 inch long) with numerous thin, imbricate scales; pendent, sessile, and terminal; reddish brown; mature in one season, abundant.
Twig: Slender, flexible, and minutely pubescent, roughened by diagonally-raised and rounded leaf scars.
Bark: Young bark is thin, superficially scaly, and brown to black; on mature trees bark is thin (about 1 inch) with flattened ridges; inner bark is dark red streaked with purple.
Form: A large evergreen conifer that reaches 200 feet tall and 4 feet in diameter, mature trees have a pyramidal crown and lacy foliage that droops at the terminal ends.
Looks like: mountain hemlock - eastern hemlock - Carolina hemlock - Pacific yew
Additional Range Information: Tsuga heterophylla is native to North America. Range may be expanded by planting. See states reporting western hemlock.
More Information: Wood - Landowner Factsheet
External Links: USDAFS Silvics of North America - USDAFS Additional Silvics - USDA Plants Database - USDAFS Forest Products Lab
All material © 2017 Virginia Tech Dept. of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation; Photos and text by: John Seiler, Edward Jensen, Alex Niemiera, and John Peterson