The Weeping Canadian hemlock (Tsuga canadensis ‘Sargentii’) is a cultivar of the Eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis). It features numerous pendulous branches and is most effectively employed near water, in rock gardens or on embankments. The tree is usually trained to grow several feet tall and then allowed to spread up to two times its height. The needles are dark green and alternate arranged. The Eastern hemlock is native to America. The weeping (pendula) cultivar was first introduced in horticulture in a supplement of A.J. Downing’s 1859 edition Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Landscape gardening by Mrs. Henry Winthrop Sargent and carries his name. Today it is threatened by the woolly adelgid. The common name “hemlock” comes from the Indians of upper New York who called this tree “Ohnehtah” and referred to Canada as the land of the “Ohnehtah”. Notably the poisonous hemlocks are not pinaceae but come from the parsley family (Apiaceae), Circuta maculata and Conium maculatum). Tsuga is the Japanese name for trees in this genus. The specific epithet means native of Canada.
Common name: Weeping Canadian Hemlock
Scientific Name (order and family): Tsuga canadensis ‘Sargentii’ or Tsuga canadensis ‘pendula’ (Sargentii, f. pendula) (Pinaceae, Pinales)
Species Origin: Eastern North America
New Jersey Status: USDA not listed
Habit: 10 – 15’ high twice as wide; bole 1 ½ – 3’ diameter. Magnificent weeping form “among the most handsome of all conifers” (pg 1161, Dirr 2009)
Habitat: Zones 3 – 7. Hilly or woody areas.
Trunk/Stem: Bark gray with scaly ridges. Long branches may droop to the ground. Although in the wild this tree has one prominent straight stem, undercultivation it often produces multiple crooked stems.
Leaves:Evergreen; needle-like. Linear ½” long, dark green above withtwo white bands beneath. Leaves are flat on cross-section. The leaves taper to rounded tips. Leaves lie flat to either side of the shoot (double rank).
Flowers: Monoecious. Male flowers yellow form beneath the shoot; female flowers resemble small green cones at the shoot tip; flowers in separate clusters on same plant.
Fruits and seeds: Cone egg-shaped, pale brown, hanging from end of shoot, ¾” diameter. Cones persist after shedding the seeds in the fall.