Western Hemlock

Tsuga heterophylla

Western Hemlock

APPEARANCE

The western hemlock always has droopy new growth at the top of the tree with soft foliage and needles. A full grown tree can be 30 to 50 metres tall with numerous small green-brown cones and rough scaly bark.

RANGE & HABITAT

They grow along the B.C. coast and in the Rocky Mountains. In B.C., the western hemlock is found in the Coast and Mountain ecoprovince.

LIFE CYCLE

These trees can grow for over 200 years. They usually sprout in the damp old wood from a rotten tree or stump, and when they die and fall over, they will create more old wood for new seedlings to grow in.

ANIMAL USES

Western hemlock provides food and shelter for many birds and animals; the leaves are an important source of food for deer and elk. The seedlings of the tree are food for smaller animals like snowshoe hare and rabbits.

TRADITIONAL FIRST NATIONS USES

The inner bark of the tree was used to make bread and cakes by whipping it with snow and fish grease, and the needles of the tree were used for tea and spice. The wood was used to design carvings, utensils, combs, dishes, the bark provided red dye and was used in tanning hides, and the roots were used to make rope and fishing lines. Clothing was also made out of the roots and branches.

MODERN USES

The wood is used in construction and carpentry.

STATUS

COSEWIC: Not at Risk
CDC: Yellow

MORE INFORMATION

www.bcadventure.com

Photo: Lenz