mountain hemlock Pinaceae Tsuga
mertensiana (Bong.) Carrière symbol: TSME
Leaf: Evergreen, flattened, single needles, spirally arranged (never 2-ranked); short (1/2 to 3/4 inch long) and thickened in cross section, uniform in color on all sides ranging from dark green to blue-green, rounded apexes, short but distinct petioles. Lateral branches are often very short, giving the appearance of star-shaped clusters of foliage.
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 cylindrical cones (1 to 3 inches long) with numerous thin, imbricate scales; pendent, sessile, and terminal; reddish brown; mature in one season.
Twig: Slender to moderately stout, and minutely pubescent, roughened by diagonally-raised and rounded leaf scars; main branches contain numerous short lateral branches.
Bark: Young bark is thin, superficially scaly, and brown to black; on mature trees, bark is thin (1 to 2 inches) with narrow rounded ridges, reddish brown in color.
Form: A small, high elevation, evergreen conifer that grows 60 to 100 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet in diameter. Mature trees have a pyramidal crown with dense, tight foliage.
Looks like: western hemlock - eastern hemlock - Carolina hemlock - Pacific yew
Additional Range Information: Tsuga mertensiana is native to North America. Range may be expanded by planting. See states reporting mountain hemlock.
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