Mountain hemlock is an attractive tree that grows to 130 feet (40 meters). It is easily recognized by the leader at the top of the tree, which droops like western hemlock.
Short and flat like western
stick out in all directions instead of lying flat, giving it the
appearance of a
worn-out bottle brush. The
needles have white lines on both surfaces and often have a blue-green
The cones look
like giant western hemlock cones. They are
about the same size
as Engelmann spruce,
but the hemlock
are rounded and thicker.
The gray bark
deep furrows on large trees.
it grows: Mountain hemlock is common in the
higher elevations of the Cascades and Olympic Mountains, often at the
timberline with subalpine fir. Sometimes it grows in pure stands of large trees.
However at the timberline, it often remains a dwarf, creeping shrub.
The range also extends into the mountains of California, the northern
Rocky Mountains, and along the coast of Alaska to Anchorage, where its
range extends down to sea level.
The lumber has
little commercial value. However, it is a popular ornamental, not only
due to its attractive blue-green color, but also because it adapts well
to warmer, wet climates and grows slowly.
is named after its
discoverer, Karl H. Mertens. Other common names: Alpine hemlock and