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TREES & plants

Eastern hemlock

One of the more shade-tolerant evergreens, the eastern hemlock has many uses as a specimen, sheared as a hedge, or planted for screening. Native to the eastern United States, the hemlock resembles a large Christmas tree with its broadly pyramidal, pendulous branches and fine, dark-green needles on widely spaced branches that give it a delicate, lacy feel. The tree even has abundant brown cones that hang from branches like small ornaments.

This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.


Botanical name: 
Tsuga canadensis
All Common Names: 
eastern hemlock, Canada hemlock, Canadian hemlock
Family (English): 
Family (Botanic): 
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Shrub
  • Tree
Native Locale: 
  • North America
Planting Site: 
  • Residential and parks
Landscape Uses: 
  • Specimen
  • Hedge
  • Screen
Size Range: 
  • Large tree (more than 40 feet)
Mature Height: 
40-70 feet
Mature Width: 
25-35 feet
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 3
  • Zone 4
  • Zone 5
  • Zone 6
  • Zone 7
Soil Preference: 
  • Moist, well-drained soil
Acid Soils: 
  • Tolerant
Alkaline Soils: 
  • Tolerant
Salt Spray: 
  • Intolerant
Soil Salt: 
  • Intolerant
Drought Conditions: 
  • Moderately Tolerant
Poor Drainage: 
  • Intolerant
Planting Considerations: 
  • Intolerant of pollution
  • Evergreen (foliage year-round)
Ornamental Interest: 
  • Showy fruit
Season of Interest: 
  • Early winter
  • Mid winter
  • Late winter
  • Early spring
  • Mid spring
  • Late spring
  • Early summer
  • Mid summer
  • Late summer
  • Early fall
  • Mid fall
  • Late fall
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Inconspicuous
Shape or Form: 
  • Pyramidal
Growth Rate: 
  • Moderate
Transplants Well: 
  • Yes
  • Birds
  • Browsers
  • Mammals
More Information: 

Tree & Plant Care

This tree does not tolerate heat, drought, or urban conditions. Shelter from strong winter winds to avoid winter burn.

Disease, pests, and problems

Several possible disease and insect pests including hemlock scale, bagworm, needle rust mite, woolly adelgid and needle blight.
Susceptible to winter burn if not sheltered from strong winds. 

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to eastern North America.


Bark color and texture

Bark is red-brown; scaly when young, eventually developing ridges and furrows.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, texture, and color

Leaves are evergreen needles, arranged in two rows, with an extra row of flattened needles on the top of stems.
Needles are ½” long and flattened, medium green color.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Male and female flowers on the same tree, but in different structures (monoecious).  Not ornamentally important.

Eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)Eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)photo: John Hagstrom

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Fruit are ovoid cones that hang from branches like small ornaments; about 1 inch long

Cultivars and their differences

'Jeddeloh' (Tsuga canadensis ‘Jeddeloh’)  is a low growing (under 3 feet at maturity), mounded shrub.  The center of the shrub is shorter than the outer edges, forming a funnel-shaped depression.