Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla)
Western hemlock is a slender, wispy evergreen tree with a notably drooping leader and branches that sweep downward. These light green giants showcase their feathery foliage, formed by needles of varying sizes, all the way down the Pacific coast from southern Alaska to northern California. Seedlings often start out on decaying wood, getting a slow start at life in the shade. And although they are extremely shade tolerant, they also thrive in the sun. You’ll find these resilient trees in dry to wet soil and in most soil types.
A variety of animals benefit from the shelter and food sources offered by the western hemlock. Many cavity nesting birds take up homes, animals like deer mice and chickadees eat the seeds, squirrels eat the bark, and deer and elk browse on the foliage and twigs.
Macy Schmidt, AmeriCorps Riparian Habitat Stewardship and Volunteer Projects Coordinator