Local, tree enthusiasts may already be familiar with the Pennsylvania State Tree, the Eastern Hemlock. For residents who are unaware, the tree care service specialists at Stein give details about this slow growing evergreen. Stein Tree Service provides services to many areas in Pennsylvania, in addition to Delaware and Maryland. Our certified arborists are passionate about trees and enjoy informing residents about the native trees in our area.
The Eastern Hemlock (tsuga canadensis), has been the official state tree of Pennsylvania since 1931, more than 30 years after Dr. Joseph Rothrock, noted as the “Father of Pennsylvania Forestry” stated that “Nothing would be better than the hemlock” to designate as characteristic of the state. The trees, many of which were 400 years old at the time and 140 feet high, were used by settlers coming to Pennsylvania to build log cabins. The tree bark also produced tannic acid, which was used to tan leather.
The Eastern Hemlock is a large coniferous tree that lives 800 years or more. In fact, they take 250-300 years to even reach maturity. Currently the biggest Eastern Hemlock is 125 feet tall and 5’1” in diameter. You can find this tree at Cook Forest State Park.
The Eastern Hemlock has thick green foliage made of short flat needles that are ½” to 1” long, and are whitened on the underside. The needles are acidic, so when they drop, they cause the soil acidity to increase, sometimes to a level that prohibits other plant growth. The tree’s bark has a purplish tint when the tree is mature. The “fruits” of the Eastern Hemlock are small cones, ½”- ¾” long, that hang downward from the stems.
Animals use the tree for protection, especially white-tailed deer and songbirds, like the Blackburnian warbler. Other animals, including black capped chickadees and red squirrels, eat the seeds of the tree.
The Eastern Hemlock grows can be found in zones 3-8, with zone 6 being the most favorable environment. The tree can thrive in acidic, loamy, moist, sandy, and well-drained soils. Soil that is too damp can cause root rot for the tree. Growing at a rate of 12 to 24 inches per year, the hemlock typically reaches heights of 40 to 70 feet, with a spread 18-40 feet in diameter. Obviously the trees can become larger, but these are typical sizes.
The Eastern Hemlock’s pyramidal shape works well for foundation plantings, screening elements, and tree groupings. The tree can be sheared, if desired, to a preferred shape or size, and stays green all year.
The hemlock tree requires little special treatment beyond a place that offers both sun and shade, but our tree care professionals recommend that you have regular trimming and pruning done for best results. Regular maintenance, proper watering and at least 6-8 hours a day of direct sunlight will keep your Eastern Hemlocks at their best.
Stein Tree Service is a professional tree care service company with specialists who are knowledgeable, skilled and dedicated to proper tree maintenance. Whether you need tree maintenance such as trimming and pruning, tree removal, or pest management, Stein Tree Service will take excellent care of your trees. Contact us today for a free consultation.
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