Species profile: Canadian hemlock

Who doesn't love a good hemlock? The Canadian hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) is a native conifer tree with a good pyramidal form that makes it ideal for use as a privacy screen.



The needles are soft, deep green in color with a rounded tip, and each needle has two silver bands on its underside. A hemlock tree can grow quite large – up to 40 feet high and 25-35 feet wide in ideal conditions. The seed cones are ovoid in shape with rounded scales that make them look like dangling ornaments.

Canadian hemlock needles

The hemlock’s soft texture and branches that droop gracefully make it a popular ornamental tree, although it is not suitable for use as a Christmas tree since it loses its needles relatively soon after being cut. The best place to plant a Canadian hemlock is in partially shaded, well-drained areas, although it can survive in almost fully shaded locations as well. This tolerance to shade can make it more versatile than other conifers, although hemlocks are most likely to thrive when planted in backyards away from urban stresses. 

Canadian Hemlock

The Canadian hemlock is available through LEAF’s Backyard Tree Planting Program.  You can learn more about all of the native species that we offer here.