Canadian hemlock, a.k.a. Eastern hemlock, or Tsuga canadensis, is considered to be one of the most beautiful conifers of North America. This slow growing tree is noted for its elegant silhouette of gently arching branches and deep green needles that are feathery soft and inviting to the touch. The perfectly conical form is supported by a straight as an arrow central trunk which creates a strong vertical statement in the landscape. And although it can grow as a superb specimen it is even more impressive when grouped along a woodland edge. It is also tolerant of shearing and can be restrained as a garden hedge, though that, of course, would eliminate its excellent form. It is, not surprisingly, very cold tolerant. Canadian hemlock will grow 50 to 70 feet tall and 30 feet wide which makes it suitable only for larger properties, however, it may take 250 to 300 years to reach maturity and may live for 900 years or more, which definitely qualifies it as a Heritage choice. It's also wildlife friendly, especially to butterflies and birds. And Native Americans used the cambium as a base for bread and soups or mixed it with dried fruit and animal fat to make pemmican. In Canada it grows naturally from Ontario eastward to Nova Scotia and P.E.I. and in the US it does well across most of the upper half of the country. Canadian hemlock also thrives across the United Kingdom as well as the cool-temperate regions of Australia and New Zealand. It is not particularly drought tolerant, or salt tolerant and care should be given to siting, but it is more than worth the special effort for the cool-temperate garden.

Canadian hemlock


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