Western Hemlock


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British Columbia Outdoor Wilderness Guide
Westhem1.Jpg
WESTERN HEMLOCK
tsuga heterophylla
  • Western Hemlock is also known as Pacific Hemlock, West Coast Hemlock
  • 'tsu-ga' is the Japanese word for "tree" and "mother". 'heterophylla' means "different leaves" in Greek
  • the scent of the crushed needles reminded early settlers of a European weed with a similar smell

UNIQUE FEATURES:

  • Western Hemlock has a narrow crown
  • droopy new growth at the top of the tree
  • feathery foliage on down-sweeping branches
  • Western Hemlock has a shallow root system which makes it sucseptible to blowdown
  • Western Hemlock is an important food source for deer and elk

LOCATION:

  • Western Hemlock grows along the coast of British Columbia
  • Western Hemlock is found in the Interior wet belt west of the Rocky Mountains
  • grows from sea level to mid elevations
  • Western Hemlock can tolerate shady areas
  • Western Hemlock can grow on decaying wood or even raw humus

SIZE:

  • Western Hemlock averages 30 to 50 metres in height

CONES:

  • numerous, small (1.5-2.5 cm)
  • greenish, turning brown with age
  • hang from the ends of the branchlets

Westhem3.Gif

Westhem.Jpg NEEDLES:

  • nearly flat, soft, glossy, widely spaced along twigs
  • are of 2 lengths with the shorter ones standing upright along the top of the twigs producing a feathery, flat look
  • yellowish-green on top and whitish on the underside

BARK:

  • rough, scaly, reddish or dark brown

WOOD CHARACTERISTICS:

  • even grain, resists scraping

USES:

  • modern - doors, windows, staircases, ladders, architectual miller items
  • traditional - inner bark: bread, cakes, eaten whipped with snow and eulachon grease; wood: carvings, spoons, combs, roasting spits, dishes; branches/needles: tea, spice; bark: tanning hides, red dye; roots: strengthen fishing lines

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Western Hemlock