Rugby is graced with many hemlock trees. Dark and elegant, these trees grow well in shade and prefer a cool and humid environment. Both the Eastern Hemlock and Carolina Hemlock (T. caroliniana) are native to this area, but the Eastern Hemlock is much more plentiful. These trees are very long-lived and can grow to 100 feet or more. The oldest specimen was found in Pennsylvania by Ed Cook in 1978. The oldest ring on this sample was crossdated to 1425, making it at least 554 years old!*
Various birds and mammals feed on its seeds, while beaver, and occasionally porcupine and rabbit, eat the bark, and white-tailed deer may browse the foliage in winter. Stands of this species also provide essential winter shelter and bedding sites for white-tailed deer (USDA 2005).**
Unfortunately these amazing trees are under attack by the wooly adelgid. This insect pest introduced to North America from Asia in 1924, has been responsible for widespread dieback of Tsuga canadensis forests. It was first noted in Tennessee in 2002 *** and has been spreading from east to west at a rate of 15-20 miles per year.
On August 18, 2012, Historic Rugby hosted a workshop led by Marie Tackett from the Big South Fork demonstrating how to treat Rugby’s many Eastern Hemlock trees which are threatened by the Hemlock woolly adelgid. Later that year, in November, volunteers helped apply a chemical drench to close to 100 hemlock trees in Rugby.
Come to this FREE workshop on May 3, from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm, Eastern, and learn about what you can do to save these majestic trees!
*The Gymnosperm Database
**Tsuga Canadensis Index of Species Information
** Hemlocks and How Save Them