What Is Canadian Hemlock Wood?

Overview

The conifer Canadian hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) produces adequate wood for light framing and the manufacture of pallets, boxes or crates. The wood works for roofs or sub-floors. When manufactured into a paper pulp, Canadian hemlock wood produces a pulp for low-quality paper or newspaper, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Firewood

Canadian hemlock tends to splinter when it undergoes machine tilling. It also offers a coarse, uneven grain that produces a rough texture. The wood is also knot filled. These undesirable milling characteristics makes the wood unsuitable for most manufacturing uses. Due to these drawbacks the tree is often harvested for private firewood usage because it burns easily.

Range

The Canadian hemlock tree grows across eastern Canada and downward to parts of Alabama and Georgia. The trees can also be found in Minnesota, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan. It prefers moist soil with a cool, humid environment. It thrives from sea level all the way to an elevation of 5,000 feet.

Growth Habits

The Canadian hemlock tree grows to a height of 100 feet with a pyramidal shape. The wood of the tree has a natural flexibility that can sustain a strong windstorm. It can easily swing and sway without snapping. It tolerates shade well and will grow in areas of the landscape that many other tree's have a difficult time thriving within.

Wildlife Uses

In the wild, the Canadian hemlock is a valuable wildlife tree. The trunk of the tree often hollows out over time due to the brittleness of the wood. The hollow cavities are widely used for black bear dens. The soft wood of the tree is also easily climbed by the bear cubs when they seek safety. The foliage of the tree offers a valuable food source during the winter months to deer, rabbits and moose.

Bark History

From 1880 to 1930, the Canadian hemlock was widely valued for its bark, according to the U.S. Forest Service. The trees were harvested so the bark could be produced into a substance known as "tannin," used in the process of tanning hides. Tannin makes leather soft and supple when applied.

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About this Author

Kimberly Sharpe is a freelance writer with a diverse background. She has worked as a Web writer for the past four years. She writes extensively for Associated Content where she is both a featured home improvement contributor (with special emphasis on gardening) and a parenting contributor. She also writes for Helium. She has worked professionally in the animal care and gardening fields.