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Close up of Eastern Hemlock needles

(Tsuga canadensis)

This conifer grows high in the sky, 60-100 feet. The trunk can grow from 2-4 feet in diameter. The branches on this tree spread out nearly horizontal, but make a pyramid-shape. The young trees have a droopy top and the older ones have a rounded top. The bark can be anywhere from a cinnamon-red to gray in color with deep furrows (indented lines) separating wide, flattened scales. Look closely, high up on the drooping branches, for a nest that is deeply cupped and sewn together with spider webs. This is the home of the black-throated green warbler.

Hemlock leaves are needles 1/3-2/3 inches long, flat, with a rounded notch at the tip. The needles are yellowish-green with 2 whitish bands underneath. The fruit is a cone 1/2-3/4 inches long with thin round-shaped scales. Inside the cone you'll find winged seeds that are slightly sticky with resin.

Hemlock grows in the northern part of Wisconsin in small stands in cool north-facing slopes. You can also find them in Columbia, Sauk and Vernon counties on cool, north slopes. The wood is light reddish-brown in color, soft and not durable. Historically, people used the inner-bark for tanning leather by distilling the oils from young branches. Today, the wood is used for coarse lumber in construction.