and Deciduous Forest Trees

of Southern Ontario

Eastern Hemlock
Tsuga Canadensis

Location in Ontario:
Eastern Hemlock is found throughout the Deciduous Forest Region, and northward.

Magnificent old-growth Eastern Hemlock

Genus Tsuga: Trees are evergreen and coniferous. The leaves are needles with a blunt tip. Pollen cones are globular, while seed cones are short and ovoid. The only species of Tsuga in Ontario is Eastern Hemlock.

Woolly Adelgid is an invasive insect from Japan brought to North America in the early 1950s. It is widespread in the United States, but only small populations have been discovered in Ontario beginning in 2012. The insect eats sap and injects toxic saliva that causes needle loss and inhibits new growth. In as little as four years, the tops of Hemlock trees can be dead. This also changes the ground below so that Hemlock saplings (requiring moist shade) may not survive. The insect can be controlled with insecticides, but this is not practical for large-scale forest situations.

For more information about the insect in Ontario: Canadian Forest Service

Landscape Use: Eastern Hemlock is a large, slow growing tree that likes shade. With its soft green needles, arching branches and pretty dark brown bark, it makes an excellent lawn specimen.

Habitat: Eastern Hemlock prefers cool, moist, north facing slopes of creeks, rivers and ravines.

This coniferous tree has leaves that are flat needles with rounded tips.

Size: Eastern Hemlock is a large-sized, slow growing tree, up to 30 metres in height and long lived, as much as 600 years!

Bark:  The bark is dark brown and deeply furrowed.

TREE FACT: Eastern Hemlock is one of the few trees that has brown bark (versus black or grey).  The bark was once a source of tannins which are used for tanning leather, but today, artificially produced tannin is used.  

Cones: Pollen is dispersed by the wind beginning about two weeks after the leaf buds burst in the spring. Seed cones open fully in October, and seed dispersal extends into the winter. Cone production begins after about 15 years, with good seed crops every 4 or 5 years.

Wood: The wood is moderately light. The wood is sometimes used for lumber, but is prone to splitting. As campfire wood, Hemlock produces many sparks.
Specific gravity: 0.40
Janka Hardness: 500 lb
Wood Comparison Chart

Large Hemlock in Backus Woods Norfolk County