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Tsuga heterophylla, photo courtesy of Joshua McCullough/PhytoPhoto
Tsuga heterophylla, photo courtesy of Joshua McCullough/PhytoPhoto

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Zones A2, A3, 2-7, 14-17
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Tsuga heterophylla

Western Hemlock
Evergreen, Ground covers, Trees


These are mostly big, shallow-rooted trees with unusually graceful appearance. Horizontal to drooping branches bear needlelike leaves that are banded with white beneath, flattened and narrowed at the base to form distinct, short stalks. Small, oval brown cones hang down from branches. Deeply furrowed bark. Need some winter chill. Do best with acid soil, summer humidity, protection from hot sun and wind. Take well to heavy pruning; make excellent clipped hedges, screens. Easily damaged by salt and drought. In the Northwest, the hemlock woolly aphid can weaken these plants, especially those grown as hedges; it affects mainly T. heterophylla.

Tsuga heterophylla

Native along coast fromAlaska to Northern California,inland to northern Idaho andMontana. Handsome tree withnarrow, pyramidal crown. Growsfairly fast to 70–130 ft. tall,20–30 ft. wide. Somewhatdrooping branchlets; fine-textured,dark green to yellowishgreen foliage with a fernlikequality. Needles are 1/4–3/4 in.long, grow in two rows. Picturesquelarge conifer for background,screens, hedges.‘Thorsen’s Weeping’ is a prostrateform that can be grown asa groundcover or staked inyouth as a weeping specimen;best growth in part shade.

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