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Western Hemlock, Tsuga heterophylla, is an elegant, large conifer that makes a good specimen and screening tree, maintaining a regular christmas tree shape well into maturity. The rich green needles of the hemlock are soft, with no sharp points, even on young shoots.
Growing Western Hemlock Trees
This tree is one of the few large plants that can really be called shade loving, as opposed to just shade tolerant. The young trees in particular are much happier growing in dappled shade under another tree than they are out in the open. It will grow in any fertile soil, but it doesn't like dry places and hates chalk.
It can reach about 40 metres in Britain, but the biggest tree ever recorded in America was about twice as tall.
The intrepid Scotsman David Douglas discovered this tree in 1828; its native range is all the way down the Pacific coast of North America. Queen Victoria was apparently a great admirer of this tree and, presumably in an effort to win her favour, British botanists called it Tsuga albertiana during her lifetime. It is a high quality timber tree and the wood pulp is used for semi-synthetic products like rayon and cellophane.