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Western Hemlock

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Wood identification

Wood identification

(Tsuga heterophylla) has three American relatives. Of them, only eastern hemlock has commercial importance. In North America, the greatest quantity of western hemlock grows in the coastal rain forests of Alaska and British Columbia, followed by Washington and Oregon. But you'll find it nearly to San Francisco on the south and east into Idaho and Montana. Where it grows heaviest, trees may reach 200' heights with diameters of 8'. Mammoths such as these may be nearly 500 years old. With a narrow, pyramid-shaped crown and an almost taperless trunk covered by deeply furrowed, russet-brown bark, western hemlock stands out. Its flat, dark green, and glossy needles dotted by short cones make it easy to identify. Western hemlock's wood ranges from creamy white to yellowish brown. It weighs about 29 pounds per cubic foot air-dry. The wood also is hard, strong, straight-grained, fine-textured, and nonresinous.

Continued on page 3:  Uses in woodworking


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