Northwest Conifers


Hemlocks – Tsuga

The Northwest has two species of hemlock. It is easy to distinguish them from other native conifers by their short, flat needles and by the drooping leaders at the top of each tree. The cones have rounded scales like Douglas fir, but don't have bracts protruding from them. You can usually distinguish one hemlock from the other by elevation, although their ranges overlap. Where they do grow together, the needle arrangement and cone size will show the difference. Tsuga is the Japanese word for hemlock.

Western HemlockWestern Hemlock
–Tsuga heterophylla

Needles: Short, flat, irregular, white lines below

Cones: 3/4" long, rounded scales

Bark: Gray, small deep furrows

Where: Below 4000 ft. in western Oregon and Washington


Mountain HemlockMountain Hemlock
 – Tsuga heterophylla

Needles: Short, flat, spread in all

Cones: 2" long, rounded scales

Bark: Gray, small deep furrows

Where: Above 4000 ft.

Has drooping top.


© 2014 Ken Denniston