Hemlock trees are not the source of the poison hemlock that killed Socrates. They are not poisonous and not even related to poison hemlock, but the foliage looks similar, and crushed needles have a similar smell. This, no doubt, led European settlers of North America to call these trees hemlocks. The scientific name of the hemlock genus is Tsuga, which also has a curious origin. Rather than the usual Latin name, Tsuga is the Japanese name for Japanese hemlock. In the nineteenth century, hemlocks were first classified as a pine, then as a fir, and later as a spruce. After the discovery of Japanese hemlock, hemlocks were assigned to the genus Tsuga.
Hemlocks are in the pine family (scientific name: Pinaceae) and are unique in the family. They have a distinctive drooping leader at the top of the tree. Hemlocks also have the smallest cones in the pine family. They can tolerate growing in the shade of other large trees for years. However, hemlocks can grow to enormous size and eventually dominate other trees in the forest. Although they can grow in the shade of Douglas fir for hundreds of years, in the normal succession of a Douglas fir forest, the hemlocks will eventually prevail, forming the canopy of the mature forest.
|Western hemlock at Elk Mountain|
Tsuga at conifers.org
Tsuga in Wikipedia
I love the "ice cream" trees. it was one of the first trees I learned to spot at camp Adams Outdoor School. Have you read the book "The Wild Trees" by Richard Preston? There is a section that discusses OSU and the early work in canopy studies for big temperate rainforest trees.ReplyDelete
I've read about the canopy studies, but haven't read this book. I'll check it out. Thanks.Delete
You might also enjoy this: https://www.gentleartofwandering.com/looking-for-medallion-trees-on-the-faulty-trail/ I haven't seen many of these trees, but once I get a friend who likes to walk at a gentle pace, I'll find these trees myself.ReplyDelete
Interesting blog. What interests me is that the medallions tell the age of the tree. Also love the photos of ponderosa bark.ReplyDelete
I enjoyed reading your lastest post, Ken. Interesting addition to your informative blog. I always learn something new about conifers on your website, thank you.ReplyDelete
Thanks. Stay tuned for a post on Mt. Hemlock.Delete
Nice... I did not realize the hemlocks would outlast the firs in a forest. Assuming the firs were not cut down of course... :-0ReplyDelete
Also assuming the hemlocks were not cut down. Ditto for being burned up.Delete