Western hemlock grows best in cool, moist areas, and is relatively shade-tolerant.
The species features needles of from .3 to .7 inch in length that do not
taper, and scaly cones of about 1 inch in length. Its scaly, fissured bark
is a dark reddish-brown. The bark of the western hemlock is relatively thin.
This, combines with its shallow root structure, makes the species susceptible
to damage by fire, wind, insects, and disease.
The western hemlock
grows to heights of 150 feet and diameters of two feet in approximately
100 years. Under ideal conditions, a western hemlock can attain a height
of 200 feet and a trunk diameter of 8 feet in about 500 years.
The western hemlock is valued as a commercial species because its softwood
features straight, fine grain and is non-rensious.