Tsuga mertensiana (mountain hemlock)

parhamr

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April 2014
9vjzBcU.jpg
Purchased for $49.99 in a 10-gallon nursery pot. I’m planning to develop this into a formal upright.

March 2015
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I had wired most branches slightly downward in 2014 and started on some major branch selection.

April 2015
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The branches make nice foliage pads with prolific ramification. The tree would produce a second flush of growth in July.

Trunk Flare
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I have been too timid to poke around near the base to check for possible nebari. The fertilizer is Osmocote 14-14-14.

December 2015
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Oooooh, frosty.

January 2016
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I repotted into a 15-gallon grow bag. The new substrate is diatomaceous earth, red lava, hemlock bark, and some of the existing loam soil. I performed moderate root work and further pulled the branches downward. I’m slowly bringing the healthy and ramified growths back closer to the trunk.

Updates will come when relevant. I need to perform more major branch selection.
 

jferrier

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Nice start! Have you worked on this species before? I've had good luck with digging these guys from the mountains, but haven't started developing one of those yet.
This is one of my favorite native US trees seen in bonsai. I found this large one in the Gifford Pinchot last spring pushed over from the snow and literally picked it up where it laid, cut a few roots, and it already put out lots of new growth this summer. It's about 5"-6" at the base and I'll have to dig down to get to the larger taproots. Not sure exactly what I'll do with it yet.
IMG_0154.JPG
 

parhamr

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@jferrier this is my first hemlock. Thanks for sharing your pic! I’ve been to Gifford-Pinchot a few times and would love to go back for collecting.
 

ghues

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Nice start! Have you worked on this species before? I've had good luck with digging these guys from the mountains, but haven't started developing one of those yet.
This is one of my favorite native US trees seen in bonsai. I found this large one in the Gifford Pinchot last spring pushed over from the snow and literally picked it up where it laid, cut a few roots, and it already put out lots of new growth this summer. It's about 5"-6" at the base and I'll have to dig down to get to the larger taproots. Not sure exactly what I'll do with it yet.
View attachment 92943
R U sure that one is mtn Hemlock as the foliage looks like western?
G.
 

jferrier

Mame
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R U sure that one is mtn Hemlock as the foliage looks like western?
G.
I sure thought it was. Needles are in whorls around stems rather than flat. It doesn't look like other western hemlocks I have. I'll have to take a closer look. Maybe a hybrid? Close-up of tree versus western.
 

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ghues

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You are probably right, as I know that this species is known for different characteristics based on the local environmental conditions within its natural range. I look forward to seeing its progression.
G.
 

Arcto

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What was elevation where you collected it at? Thanks all for the pics. Love the species. All mine are under snow right now.
 

sdavis

Mame
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You are probably right, as I know that this species is known for different characteristics based on the local environmental conditions within its natural range. I look forward to seeing its progression.
G.
I would say there is a 90% chance this is a Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) and not a Mountain Hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana).
Stomata, tree shape, and growth habit are wrong.
I have never heard of a hybrid between the two.
The good news is that either one will do fine in Portland!
 

ghues

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I would say there is a 90% chance this is a Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) and not a Mountain Hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana).
Stomata, tree shape, and growth habit are wrong.
I have never heard of a hybrid between the two.
The good news is that either one will do fine in Portland!
I'm aware that there are some differences in appearance even between the Hm' say from where I live (Vancouver Island) and the ones you find in the Cascades. We have found the same even btwn areas on th Island.
(Michael H and I have discussed on a collecting trip we took him on a few years back)
As far as hybrids....some in the scientific community do recognize them and over 40 years as a Forester I've seem them where the cones were too small for HM but what too long for western...go figure.
 

Vance Wood

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Interesting this that everyone on this thread is from PNW;).
Because the tree is not sold in the nursery trade and is available only in your part of the country. I agree it is absolutely beautiful and I wish I had one. Maybe next year.
 

Bunjeh

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I found this large one in the Gifford Pinchot last spring pushed over from the snow and literally picked it up where it laid, cut a few roots, and it already put out lots of new growth this summer.
View attachment 92943
I live near the northern side of GPNF. Where did you get your permit? Been "tree spotting" there but never dug. Great place to get hemlock, firs,..but also some great acer circinatum.
 

jferrier

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I live near the northern side of GPNF. Where did you get your permit? Been "tree spotting" there but never dug. Great place to get hemlock, firs,..but also some great acer circinatum.

You can get permits form the National forest offices where available. I pick mine up from the HQ in Vancouver,WA. Ten trees allowed and no cost.
 

jferrier

Mame
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What was elevation where you collected it at? Thanks all for the pics. Love the species. All mine are under snow right now.

I have no idea. It was about 45 minutes north of Carson up 65. Snow there until late May/early April last year.
 

parhamr

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image.jpeg I found the courage to do some major branch selection and aggressive chopping to reduce the heavier branches.

image.jpeg
My caution is paying off as the new growths have done well and there's a second flush pushing right now. This photo also shows the delightful branching structures this tree is producing with little effort from me.

image.jpeg
I did find that the basal flare continues to increase under the soil line. The side that I want to be the front turns out to not have much nebari. The base is 4" wide and the tree is 30" tall after pruning for taper. The cracking bark is quite visible here. As the tree puts on girth it has been busting out through the old bark; this is exciting!

Future plans:

  • Let a new leader grow to as much as 48" tall for reasons of proportion and taper (at present the tree is quite stout)
  • Continue removing lower branches to select a first branch that is 8–12" above the soil (also for reasons of proportion)
  • Continue pulling down the upper branches using guy wires so the tree looks like it lives up in the snow zone
  • Gently control vigor of upper branches such that they ramify without becoming too thick
  • Reduce the depth of the root mass by about 1/3 every 2 or 3 years until ready for a proper pot
Feedback and guidance welcome!
 

parhamr

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Here's the sort of thick growths that I recently chopped off:

image.jpeg
 

Vance Wood

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What kind of exposure to the sun is the tree getting?
 
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