Western Hemlock

Tsuga heterophylla

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Browse Trees
Native to Pacific Northwest Native to pacific northwest
Valuable to wildlife Valuable to wildlife

A faster-growing, large conifer, great for yards. The Western Hemlock is native to the western regions of North America, primarily found in coastal areas from Alaska to northern California. It has short, flat needles and produces small, egg-shaped cones, serving as an important component of Pacific Northwest forests and providing valuable habitat for various wildlife species.

Growing Conditions:
Western Hemlock thrives in moist, cool environments and is commonly found at low to mid-elevations in the coastal rainforests of the Pacific Northwest. It prefers well-drained, acidic soils and is often associated with other conifers like Douglas-fir and Sitka spruce.


90' at maturity

25' at maturity

Narrowly pyramidal when young, broad upright pendulous branches when mature.

Conifers do not flower.

Needles are flat, soft, measuring about 1/2 to 1 inch in length. One of the distinctive features is that the needles have two distinct color variations, with dark green on the upper surface and a lighter, bluish-green hue underneath.

The bark of young trees is thin, smooth, and grayish-brown, while mature trees develop a thick, reddish-brown bark with deep furrows.

More Information:
PLEASE NOTE BEFORE PLANTING: Severe drought conditions can negatively impact Western Hemlock. Extended periods of water stress can weaken the tree, making it more susceptible to insect infestations, diseases, and other stress-related issues. In regions experiencing more frequent or severe drought events due to climate change, Western Hemlock populations may face increased challenges.

In 2015, widespread reports of Western Hemlock trees losing green needles throughout the year were observed in western Washington and northwest Oregon. This foliage loss was initially attributed to drought stress due to warm and dry conditions that year. However, around the same time, a new foliar disease caused by the fungus Rhizoctonia butinii was identified on Western Hemlock trees in Oregon, showing similar symptoms of foliage loss.

The Rhizoctonia butinii fungus affects various tree species, including Western Hemlock, and tends to start in the lower crown, causing foliage loss and dead branches, then progressing upwards. This disease appears to have an association with drought conditions. Damage and possible mortality can occur in Western Hemlock trees of all sizes and ages growing in dry or water-limited soils.

[Source: Washington State Department of Natural Resources]