Canadian Hemlock (Tsuga Canadensis)

North of the Bird Sanctuary; near the street. Map

Our Coast redwood having succumbed to the elements, in its place we have substituted this little tree. It should be proof against anything that Bellingham weather is likely to throw at it, because it thrives along the eastern seaboard of North America, as far north as Nova Scotia. In its native range it can reach 100 ft. or more in height, and live for nearly 1000 years. Ours is perhaps four ft. tall at present (2012) and, unlike the Coast redwood it replaces, is unlikely ever to peer down on its near neighbors, our giant sequoia and sprawling plane tree ("sycamore"), trees GS and PTP. This is because it is slow growing and is unlikely to reach its full potential in this climate; however the largest in the state, in Tacoma, is gradually approaching 100 ft.

Tsuga Canadensis apparently is scorned by loggers; its wood is weak, brittle and splintery. However, its inner bark is used for tanning. It seems that this tree has remarkably mutable DNA, as attested to by the fact that it spawns divergent phenotypes with remarkable abandon; Jacobson lists 28 named cultivars. At least one is golden in color and many are drooping; one, called Sargentii, is nothing more than an unattractive, sprawling heap of needles.

This is a nice tree, but it is no substitute for the Coast redwood. It is to be hoped that another of the latter will be planted soon, somewhere where it has a fighting chance against a Bellingham winter.