Eastern Hemlock
Tsuga canadensis

Eastern Hemlock Tree (7)


The Eastern Hemlock is a large, long-lived tree (5).  The trees have small, evergreen needles (less than 1 inch long) that are narrow, flat, and soft (8).  The needles have a dark-green appearance on their topside, and are light-green with two distinguishable white lines on their underside (5).  These lines consist of four rows of stomata that are used by the tree for gas exchange (8).  The twigs of the Eastern Hemlock are slender, yellowish to grayish brown, and rough when their needles fall (5, 8).  The bark of the Eastern Hemlock appears reddish brown and is flaky on young trees. It becomes thicker and darker as it ages and eventually becomes roughly grooved (5, 8).  The cones of the Eastern Hemlock are very small (from to of an inch long), and appear pale green in the early autumn and turn a darker brown in the late autumn (8).  The cones hang singly from the tips of twigs and have 2 small seeds underneath their rounded scales (5, 8).

Location on Campus

Our specimen is found on the eastern side of the new Golisano Academic Center.  As you are facing towards the main entrance to the building, the specimen is found by itself on the right corner of the lawn just before the road in front of the Academic Center. 

Native Habitat and Current Range

Range of Eastern 
Hemlock (4)

The Eastern Hemlock is native to the Northeastern United States and Canada. Its range extends from Nova Scotia, west through Ontario to Minnesota, and south along the Appalachian Mountain range to Alabama and Georgia (2, 3). 


Optimal Growing Conditions

This species is found in cool, moist woods and is also present in many shaded areas (5, 2).  Eastern Hemlock grows best in rich, well-drained soil and is commonly found close to other trees such as sugar maples and white pines (6).


Economic Importance

Eastern Hemlock
needles (7)

Eastern hemlock is used as timber for general construction, despite the wood being hard and brittle (5, 2).  The bark of the tree is a good source of tannic acid, which is used for tanning leather (6).

Ethnobotanical and Cultural Information

Native Americans used to use the inner bark of the Eastern Hemlock to make a bandage to cover wounds and sores (8).  They also used the needles of the tree in tea, and the cambium to make bread and soups (1).


Fascinating Facts

Pine cone of 
Eastern Hemlock (7)

  • The Eastern Hemlock is the Pennsylvania state tree and can live up to 250 years (8)


  • The tree provides a great habitat for wildlife and has some of the smallest cones in the pine family (5, 8).

Other interesting sites

Pest threat to the Eastern Hemlock

Life history of Eastern Hemlock

Pennsylvania State Tree


References: Articles, Books, Reference Materials, and the Web

  1. Athenic Systems.  http://www.treeguide.com/Species.asp?SpeciesID=1096&Region=NorthAmerican.  Accessed Nov. 16 2003.

  2. Buchanan, K.   http://www.environ.sc.edu/A_C_MooreWeb/EasternHemlock.htm.  Accessed Nov. 16 2003.

  3. Eschtruth, A & Chung, M.  http://www.yale.edu/fes505b/ehemlock.html.  Accessed Nov. 16 2003.

  4. Godman, R. M. & Lancaster, K.  http://www.wildwnc.org/trees/Tsuga_canadensis.html.  Accessed Nov. 16 2003.

  5. Grace, J.   http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/forestry/commontr/eastern.htm.  Accessed Nov. 16 2003.

  6. Martin, C.  http://www3.pei.sympatico.ca/~garyschneider/tree/hemlock.html.  Accessed Nov. 16 2003.

  7. Ohio Public Library Information Network and the Ohio Historical Society.  http://www.inspire.net/trees/fact%20pages/hemlock_eastern/hemlock_eastern.html.  Accessed Nov. 16 2003.

  8. Ostermiller, S.   http://ostermiller.org/tree/easternhemlock.html.  Accessed Nov. 16 2003.


Created by:  Matthew Noble


Nazareth College

Plant Biology 2003