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Trees of Nova Scotia (Part 6)

Hemlock (Softwood)

Although we now regard hemlock as an important lumber tree, early lumberman passed it by for more valuable white pine. Eastern hemlock is found from Nova Scotia westward to Minnesota and south to Tennessee.

While hemlock wood can be dressed for interior work, it most often used in rougher work such as bridge planks, sills, boxes and crates. Because this species retains its lower branches for many years, it wood is usually knotty. These knots probably contain the hardest wood of any eastern. They can nick an axe blade very easily. Hemlock is dangerous in camp fires, because it throws out more sparks than the wood of any other native conifer except perhaps cedar.

Early leather-makers leached hemlock bark for tannin, a dye and preservative. Indians poulticed sores and wounds with boiled and pounded inner bark. Settlers drank hemlock tea to induce sweating, and made brooms from the branch-lets

Elements of the Hemlock

Needles: Dark, shiny green and flattened, with two white lines below.

Cones: Similar to those of tamarack, but longer and not erect, pale green with slightly toothed scale margins, each fertile scale produces two winged seeds.

Bark: Reddish or greyish brown, changing with age from scaly or flaky to rough and deeply furrowed.

Wood: Buff with reddish tinge; tough ,splintery and fairly hard.


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