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Woody > Tsuga > Tsuga caroliniana > Tsuga caroliniana

Tsuga caroliniana

Carolina Hemlock

Origin:  Southeastern United States. A tree of limited occurrence and distribution but tannin from the bark was formerly extracted for use in processing leather.
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This graceful and stately tree makes a radiant impact in the landscape. With the tree being rare in its habitat, preservation and conversation should be a priority. The bark, foliage and structure give it an earthy graceful appearance that also looks delicate and feathery making it more closely resemble the Asian Hemlocks. Its pronounced and bold appearance attracts wildlife while catching the eye with texture and colour. The berry like cones appear in abundance making the tree look like it is covered in white edged flowers.

Michael Pascoe, NDP., ODH., CLT., MSc. (Plant Conservation)


Tree (evergreen)
USDA Hardiness Zone
Canadian Hardiness Zone
Temperature (°C)
Temperature (°F)
14-18 m
6-8 m
Description and Growing Information
Flowering Period
General Description
The glossy green colour and whorled arrangement of the needles give the tree a glowing appearance. The bark is exposed to show its purple-grey colour and scaly, fissured bark. Cones are produces in abundance and radiate off the tree like flowers.
An ornamental or lawn specimen tree used in the landscape that can provide a screen, giving privacy and shade where needed. The characteristics of the tree are more closely related to an Asian species. Great for attracting wildlife like birds and deer.
Thrives in damp, cool well drained soils, does not tolerate droughty locations. Transplants well, balled and burlapped in early spring or autumn. Sheltered exposure in sweeping winds is preferred to avoid damage to the tree.
Pyramidal, narrow crown, slender horizontal to slightly pendulous branches, trunk short and tapered.
ID Characteristic
Needles are 5-20 mm long that creates a whorled arrangement around the stem forming a bottlebrush like effect and having entire margins. Cones are 25-35 mm long, 25 mm wide with scales that radiate out from the centre.
Woolly adelgid, spider mites, rust and scales.
Occurring along the slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Southeastern United States.
Bark/Stem Description
Exposed, creates character with an earthy feel. Red-brown and scaly having large yellow pores that darkens to a purple-grey. In maturity, thick and deeply fissured to produce interconnecting flat scaly ridges, creating a mosaic pattern appearance.
Flower/Leaf Bud Description
2-3 mm long, ovoid to oblong. The scales are covered with short soft hairs; a light brown in colour. Buds are non-resinous with the apex being blunt.
Leaf Description
Single, flat, linear with blunt apex, 5-20 mm long, 10 mm wide, smooth leaf margins, glossy green, 2 narrow white bands underneath, borne on tiny petioles and radiate densely around stem, projecting the needles in a whorled, bottlebrush effect.
Flower Description
Small and not readily noticed, having both male and female flowers; males, yellow, occur below the shoot, females, greenish, occur at the terminal and covered with overlapping scales. In late spring, flowers are borne in separate clusters.
Fruit Description
Light brown, 2.5-3.5 cm long, 2.5 cm wide and egg shaped, composed of wide spreading oblong scales that slightly re-curve, contains white bands along the edge and middle of scale. Produced in abundance and pendulous, either short stalked or sessile.
Colour Description
Glossy green needles, variable from dark to medium intensity; bark is reddish brown with yellow pores that change to become purple-grey in colour. Cones are light brown with a whitish band along the edge of the scales coming down through the centre.
Texture Description
More stiff in appearance than T. canadensis. Having a medium texture but providing a graceful appearance all on its own.
Notable Specimens
North Carolina Arboretum, Asheville, North Carolina. University of Tennessee Arboretum, Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
For seed, dry in kiln at 30.5-37.7⁰ C for 48 hours or stratify seed for 2-4 months at 7⁰ C . Cuttings can root but need to be timed, hormonal treatment is necessary.
Nearly Native Nursery, Fayetteville, Georgia.