Types of Trees In Michigan: Eastern Hemlock

The Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) is one of the types of trees that are native to Michigan. Hemlocks are characterized by their flat, dark green needles with silvery undertones. Their bark is also deeply grooved their branches are typically described as “drooping”.

This evergreen conifer is not only beautiful, it’s home to many wildlife and can be found in many parts of the United States.

So, let’s take a closer look at the Eastern Hemlock tree, where it likes to grow, and what is threatening its existence.

Eastern Hemlock Facts

Although it’s a native tree to Michigan, the Department of Agriculture says you’ll find Eastern Hemlocks all over North America. It extends from eastern Minnesota to southern Quebec, then through Nova Scotia, before descending via the Appalachian Mountains to reach northern Georgia and Alabama. It grows in various national parks and is the state tree of Pennsylvania.

Local growing conditions determine the size of these trees, but in favorable conditions, they can reach up to 70 ft. in height and spread out up to 35 ft. A Hemlock can stand over 100 feet tall in some places, typically near the Atlantic coast and in the Appalachian Mountains where the trees often reach their greatest height.

It grows into the shape of a pyramid, but one of its most distinctive traits is the dropping nature of its branches. 

Hemlock prefers north-facing slopes of hills and mountains or tucked into ravines where there is more shade and cooler conditions. Mature hemlocks are shade tolerant. They also prefer acidic, well-drained soils that are moist. 

Its pinecones are very small and hang from the tips of new growth of twigs. Other common names of this evergreen include Canada hemlock and hemlock spruce.

Birds Love Hemlock Trees

Numerous bird species prefer hemlocks as nesting trees. They are protected by their tall branches and dense foliage. Kinglets and several other types of warblers, such as Blackburnians and black-throated greens, are among the birds that build their nests on hemlock trees.

type of tree in MichiganFor birds like crossbills and pine siskins, the seed cones are a source of food throughout the winter. Deer like to lie under the branches of hemlock, and porcupines eat its little twigs for breakfast. Where the snow isn’t too deep, they’ll use them as a refuge.

Pests That Threaten Eastern Hemlock

In recent years an invasive pest called woolly adelgid has been terrorizing Eastern Hemlocks. It’s wreaking havoc in areas of Canada and the northeastern United States where hemlock is the main forest tree as well as an ornamental. Researchers believe the wooly adelgid arrived in Michigan on infested nursery stock from northeastern states.

The wooly adelgid is an aphid-like insect that attacks the tree by inserting its long mouthparts at the base of needles. Once it’s attached, it begins to feed on the tree’s stored starches. They will remain in the same spot their whole life, growing into adulthood and continually feeding on the tree. This damages the canopy of the tree by disrupting the flow of nutrients to its twigs and needles. The tree will typically die within 4-10 years.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development continues to verify new detections of the invasive hemlock woolly adelgid. They believe the spread occurs in a couple of different ways. The insects can be transported to new locations by wind, birds or mammals coming into contact with an infested branch, or by cars, boats or RVs parked under infested trees.

Protect Your Eastern Hemlock

The Safari Tree pest control package combines killing insects and their larvae by strengthening your tree. If your trees are stronger they’ll be able to survive the pests that do manage to attack. 

We start in the spring by spreading dormant oil on your trees. This will cut down on early insect infestations. We will also fertilize your tree’s deep roots later on in the season. This allows it to thrive all summer long.

In fact, our 7-step tree healthcare program is perfectly designed for Michigan’s four-season climate. If you’re interested in learning more about how Safari Tree can protect the trees in your yard, contact us today