Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla)

Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla)

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Common Name(s): Western Hemlock

Scientific Name: Tsuga heterophylla

Distribution: Northwest coast of North America

Tree Size: 165-200 ft (50-60 m) tall, 3-5 ft (1-1.5 m) trunk diameter

Average Dried Weight: 29 lbs/ft3 (465 kg/m3)

Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .37, .47

Janka Hardness: 540 lbf (2,400 N)

Modulus of Rupture: 11,300 lbf/in2 (77.9 MPa)

Elastic Modulus: 1,630,000 lbf/in2 (11.24 GPa)

Crushing Strength: 7,200 lbf/in2 (37.3 MPa)

Shrinkage: Radial: 4.2%, Tangential: 7.8%, Volumetric: 12.4%, T/R Ratio: 1.9

Color/Appearance: Heartwood is light reddish brown. Sapwood may be slightly lighter in color but usually isn’t distinguished from the heartwood. Occasionally contains dark streaks caused by bark maggots. The conspicuous growth rings can exhibit interesting grain patterns on flatsawn surfaces.

Grain/Texture: Grain is generally straight, with a coarse, uneven texture.

Endgrain: Resin canals absent; earlywood to latewood transition usually gradual, color contrast fairly high; tracheid diameter medium-large.

Rot Resistance: Rated as non-durable regarding decay resistance, and also susceptible to insect attack.

Workability: Overall working properties are good, but because of the disparity between the soft earlywood and the hard latewood, sanding can create dips and uneven surfaces. Glues, stains, and finishes well.

Odor: No characteristic odor.

Allergies/Toxicity: Western Hemlock has been reported to cause skin and respiratory irritation, as well as runny nose. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

Pricing/Availability: Western Hemlock is one of the two primary commercial species of hemlock harvested in North America—with the other being Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis). Western Hemlock is used as construction lumber and is commonly grouped together with other species of fir and hemlock and sold under the more generic label “HEM-FIR.” Expect prices to be moderate for a domestic softwood.

Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, and is reported by the IUCN as being a species of least concern.

Common Uses: Boxes, pallets, crates, plywood, framing, and other construction purposes.

Comments: Western Hemlock is the largest of the hemlocks, and is one of the most valuable sources of exportable lumber for Canada; the species is also the state tree of Washington.

When compared to Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), Western Hemlock generally has narrower growth rings, though both species can have tightly spaced growth rings.

Related Species:

Related Articles:

None available.


Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla)

Western Hemlock (sanded)

Western Hemlock (sealed)

Western Hemlock (sealed)

Western Hemlock (endgrain)

Western Hemlock (endgrain)

Western Hemlock (endgrain 10x)

Western Hemlock (endgrain 10x)


  1. Shaik Karimulla May 10, 2018 at 1:18 am - Reply

    Can we use for sports wooden floor if we use what is the deficit

  2. Billy March 15, 2018 at 6:37 pm - Reply

    Has anyone ever heard of or had a skin rash from Hemlock?

    • Katherine Howard March 29, 2018 at 4:05 pm - Reply

      Any resin could affect a person negatively.

  3. ok42125 April 29, 2016 at 4:09 am - Reply

    just want to say that is very interesting, your reports about Western Hemlock qualities

  4. ron davis January 22, 2012 at 4:00 pm - Reply

    operated alog debarker in creswell or . ran alot of western hemlock through barker .If i had a small cut on a finger and got hemlock bark or wood fiber in it the cut would swell up and fester .I would squeeze my finger around the cut to get fluid out . IT would take about two weeks for my finger to heal .A week longer than it normally take to heal. while barking hemlock the bark hog would plug up and when you had to open up the door on the hog steam would come out from the hammer beating on the bark .You had to get in to where you could clean out the plug up and end up breathing the steam that came off the hemlock bark . It would make you feel bad and made your lungs feel like they were tightingup . One of the millwrights i worked with said it made him sick and had to leave. I feel that my lungs have never been the same after doing that job . Ihave talked to my doctor about this and he shows little concern .I take ativan to help me breath better. I feel like i have copd but have never been diagnosed with it.Iam 58 years old and no longer work in the timber industry.

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