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Hemlock tree appearance wood uses and lumber

Western hemlock trees are common throughout the west coast of North America and Canada. This tall and strong tree is much larger then the Canadian hemlock. The scientific name of the western hemlock tree is tsuga heterophylla and is part of the pinaceae family. The icon shape and majestic looks of the hemlock tree make it one of the best looking confiners' species. Don't be deceived by its beauty because this tree can handle harsh and cold conditions and high altitudes.

western hemlock trees

Hemlock tree, needles and fruit description

western hemlock tree needles and barkThe hemlock tree can grow to heights up to 200 feet or 60 meters. The tree is classed evergreen and has needles all year.

Western hemlock needles are dark green colored on the sun side with two white blue bands on the other side. The needles of this tree can reach lengths up to 0.7 inches or 2 cm. When you crush the needles you will notice an unpleasant smell. This defense system should protect the leaves and fruits.

The western hemlock tree has small brown oval shaped cone fruits. New cones are brown green and get a darker brown when aging. The cone can reach lengths up to 1.2 inch or 3 cm and is filled with many small seeds.


Hemlock tree bark and trunk

Yong western hemlock trees have smooth red brown bark. When the tree gets older the bark gets darker purple brown and flanking. The trunk of the hemlock tree is long and straight. The first branches with needles and cones can be high up in the tree. The diameter of the trunk depends on the age of the tree. Old trees can have trunks with a diameter up to 6.5 feet or 2 meters.


Hemlock wood properties and durability

Fresh hemlock heartwood is reddish yellow brown collard that darkens in time. The sapwood is slightly paler but hardly noticeable. Exposure to sunlight darkens both wood types. Western hemlock wood is known for its medium fine texture nice colorations, moderate strength and stiffness and good dimensional stability. The average dried weight of the wood at a moisture content of 12% is 480 kg per cubic meter. The durability of western hemlock wood is classed as IV moderate low durability.


Hemlock wood working tips and uses

western hemlock wood usesWestern hemlock wood is popular among carpenters and the wood work industry. The lumber is excellent for

  • building and construction
  • furniture
  • boxes
  • crates
  • plywood
  • paneling
  • veneer
  • poles
  • and more

Sharp tools are recommended when working with hemlock lumber by hand. The wood can contain resin that can cause problems when painting. It is best to let the lumber acclimatize to the surroundings and let it dry well. This will minimize the risk of cracks in the wood from the resin.

More Western hemlock tree pictures!