Eastern Hemlock - Tsuga canadensis

Eastern Hemlock is a common Southern Ontario conifer, but it is often confused with balsam fir, which has similar needles. Remember that Eastern hemlock needles are attached to the twig with a small stem (instead of a disc) – just think hemlock – ‘stem’-lock! The oily seeds provide food for many bird species, and the dense branches provide cover for many species such as snowshoe hares, wild turkeys, and white-tailed deer. These conifers prefer cool, shady and moist sites, often found on lower slopes and in valleys.

Hemlock Needles
The hemlock needles are attached spirally but twist into two flat rows. Note the small stem that attaches each needle to the twig! There are two white bands on the underside of the needles. Photo by Chris Earley.

Hemlock Cones
The small cones are 1-2cm long on hairy stalks. Photo by Chris Earley.

These densely branched trees are conical when young, and become more irregular as they age. Photo by Brian Lacey.

Ontario Tree Atlas map of non-planted Eastern Hemlock. 1995-1999.
Ontario Tree Atlas map of non-planted Eastern Hemlock. 1995-1999.

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Farrar, J.L.. 1995. Trees in Canada. Fitzhenry & Whiteside Ltd. Toronto. ON. 504 pp.  

Kershaw, L. 2001. Trees in Ontario: Including tall shrubs. Lone Pine Publishing. Edmonton. AB. 240 pp

Muma, W. 2011. Ontario Trees and Shrubs. [Online] Available: www.ontariotrees.com

OMNR, 2011. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources: Ontario Tree Atlas. [Online] Available: http://www.mnr.gov.on.ca/en/Business/ClimateChange/2ColumnSubPage/267027.html

OMNR, 2008. Ontario’s Biodiversity: Species at Risk.