A comprehensive database of Tennessee native plants
Eastern Hemlock, Canada Hemlock
Full sun to light shade; medium moisture level; tolerates a fairly wide range of soils including medium loam, sandy loam, loamy sand, silt loam, gravelly loam, and clay; strongly acid to slightly acid pH.
40-70 feet height by 25-35 feet spread; inconspicuous flower is a cone, with male cones light yellow and female cones pale green, in spring; fruits are tan-brown cones, ¾ inch long, in fall.
Growth Rate: Medium to slow
Maintenance: Drought is the most serious damaging agent. A thick winter mulch is beneficial. Has a shallow root system and is highly susceptible to wind-throw. Subject to few pests with a major exception, the hemlock woolly adelgid (see below)
Propagation: Moderately easy from seed and moderately difficult from cuttings. Seed germination code C(60-120) at 40 degrees F. Seed viability is generally low.
Native Region: Primarily found in Cumberland Plateau, Ridge and Valley and the Blue Ridge provinces
Needled evergreen that is one of the most beautiful and adaptable conifers. Long-lived up to 900 years and may take 240-300 years to reach maturity. Very shade tolerant and is the most shade tolerant of all tree species. Casts such a dense shade that little other vegetation can survive underneath it. Best sited in part shade in sheltered locations protected from strong drying winds and hot afternoon sun. Intolerant of drought and should be watered regularly in prolonged dry spells. Needs a cool, damp microclimate. Occurs naturally on mountain slopes and in moist ravines, moist woods, stream valleys, and on moist rocky hillsides.
Hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) is a tiny, sap-sucking insect that has become a serious threat to survival of native hemlocks in the wild in eastern U.S. HWA was accidentally introduced into U.S. from eastern Asia in 1920s and has spread into the Appalachian Mountains and killed most of the old growth hemlocks in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Control of this pest is very difficult. Do not grow this species if HWA is present in your area.
Stands of Eastern Hemlock are important shelter and cover for deer, turkey, grouse and other wildlife species. Attracts butterflies. Larval food for Columbia Silkmoth.